A CALL TO SACRIFICE
In a faith community environment, most of our communications contain an appeal for personal sacrifice. Whether asking for commitments of time, money or talent, our messaging often involves at least some degree of pain from the audience. When there is a gap in communications the blame may not lie with a failure in creating awareness or outlining the cold, hard facts. It may have been that an emotional connection was missing.
Can Group Messaging Technology Close the Communication Gap?
Trying to address each of these challenges in a manual way is time consuming, costly, and inefficient. Is there anything that can be done to make communications more streamlined and effective? For many, the answer is “yes.” Faith communities across the country are turning to group messaging services to boost their communications. Also known as “mass notification systems,” group-messaging applications are online software packages designed to help people easily manage contacts and send all types of messages through virtually any device. These systems can deliver thousands of voice, text and email messages in minutes. Here are a few ways faith communities commonly use group messaging.
- URGENT PRAYER REQUESTS – When unexpected needs arise, group-messaging software can be used to quickly inform people and request prayers. In addition, some faith communities utilize the service for weekly prayer reminders.
- SERVICE OR EVENT CANCELLATIONS – Faith communities are not immune to severe weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Group messaging technology can be used to alert the whole congregation to a service cancellation or change within minutes, keeping people from being exposed to dangerous situations attempting to attend a canceled service.
- VOLUNTEER COORDINATION – Most faith communities rely heavily on volunteers, and these volunteers must be coordinated to ensure people are aware of their duties or find replacements. Group messaging software can be used to notify people of their service responsibilities and confirm participation. Or notices can be sent to groups of volunteers when someone who was previously scheduled cancels. Two-way feedback can be used to fill gaps in an automated way.
- VISITOR WELCOME – Immediate feedback from the faith community helps reinforce a visitor’s experience and make them feel truly welcome. Computers at the visitor help desk can feature a self-registration portal in which visitors can enter their information. Messages can be sent via SMS or a recorded voice call sent from the pastor. While not a substitute for true hospitality, technology can help “systemize” the visitor welcome process.
- CONTACT MANAGEMENT – Group messaging solutions allow users to manage their database of contacts and personal information. Contact information can be manually entered, imported from a spreadsheet or, in more robust systems, integrated with other software packages (such as a church information system). Some also provide the ability to set up a self-registration portal, through which members and guests can create and update their own contact information.
- DYNAMIC SUBGROUP SELECTION – While it’s easy enough to send messages to everyone in the congregation, most faith communities also utilize the software’s dynamic grouping capabilities for selecting targeted subgroups. Information such as: service preferences, volunteer teams, youth or other group memberships, special needs, etc. can all be queried to create subgroups for messaging on-the-fly or saved for future messages.
- MESSAGING THROUGH VIRTUALLY ANY DEVICE – Group messaging solutions also solve the problem associated with communicating through today’s plethora of devices and preferred channels. Voice messages can either be recorded or typed and read by the computer (known as text-to-speech technology), then delivered to land or mobile phones. SMS text messages or emails can be sent to large groups of people at once. And, some solutions will even post a message to your faith community’s social media account automatically. The selection of the devices used is completely up to the message sender.
- TWO-WAY COMMUNICATIONS & ONLINE REPORTING – With group messaging, questions and responses can be incorporated into the message. When recipients receive the message, they can indicate their preferred response (e.g., press 1 for “yes” 2 for “no”). Some systems will allow for responses through any device.
While technology can’t replace a smiling face and a friendly handshake, thousands of faith communities across the nation have turned to group messaging services like One Call Now to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of their communications. Whether for urgent situations or routine tasks, One Call Now can help members feel connected and motivated instead of feeling disengaged and uninformed.