As you probably know by now, 2014 has been a year for me to examine church communications. Like most Christian leaders, I have tried keeping up with all of the new methods of communication, including all of the new social media solutions. If you read the Special Issue we released a few weeks ago (http://www.ccmag.com/specialissue/ccmagspecialissue.pdf) you know that I have concluded that most social media solutions are NOT designed for the church. They certainly are not designed to get your message out to your membership or prospects. YET, I realized why social media was growing in our society. It is because it presents your information and communication in a way that is personal!

Institutional communication is boring, dull, and not trusted by people these days. They assume that anything coming from a church, business or political organization is “spin” and is either trying to sell us something or persuade us to do something for the sender. People like communications from friends and family, and they like it to arrive before their eyes in a way that is personal, not in an envelope with a printed label and a metered stamp.

This is why I have decided that THE best way for a church to communicate their message to their membership and prospects is through texting! It arrives directly to their cell or smart phone, it is right in front of their eyes and must be seen even if a person wishes to discard it. And, it is personal. A person reading a text about a prayer request, or an announcement, etc., has no idea if the text was sent to thousands or just to them!

The second best way for a church to communicate their message to their membership is through phone! And a reliable, easy to use voice message delivery system is perfect!
So, it should be no surprise that I am in love with One Call Now. They provide both of these services to churches and ministries. Their service is easy to use, full of cool features, and gets the job done. I have used them in the past, and I highly recommend them now. With that in mind, I thought some of our readers might enjoy more information. So, I gave Bob Wolfe a call and asked him a few questions. Bob is Senior Marketing Manager for the Religious/Non-Profit Markets. Enjoy!

Tell our readership a little about One Call Now; what you provide for churches, and some of your history.
One Call Now has a long history with working with churches, non-profit groups, and sports teams. We offer a reliable, easy and budget-friendly way to communicate with their members.
As technology has improved, and the needs of churches have changed over the years, One Call Now has increased its role as a one-stop solution for communication that serves congregants according to their technological comfort and preference. In this way, nobody within a community is marginalized because of the lack of a particular technology or skill level. The OCN system is designed to be a simple and easy to use, offering multiple methods for getting timely important messages to congregants, i.e. Phone calls, emails, text messages, social media messages, polling/responsive messages, etc. Even language is no longer a barrier, as One Call Now features a multi-lingual capability.

Why do you believe texting and voice message delivery works so well?
We believe that texting and voice messaging are effective for a variety of reasons: One reason is simply that phone usage is commonplace. Whether someone owns a full-featured smartphone or a simpler mobile or home device (or system), these devices have become central to the way we live and communicate with the people who are important to us. As the cost of technology comes down and the functionality of devices increases, more and more people find that they are conducting all kinds of communication and transaction activity on these devices, including checking email, banking, shopping, interacting social media, etc. What makes our solutions so important, then, is the way we can help our clients insert important messages into that daily flow of activity. One Call Now reaches congregants on the go or at home through what has become arguably THE most indispensable device. Moreover, calls and texts have a way of “dominating” a device…that is, they typically require interaction (answering, responding) or, at the very least, acknowledgement and “disposition” for a later response (screening a call and forwarding to voicemail, clearing a screen of a singular text message). For churches, this puts messaging out in front.

How hard is it to send out a specific text or voice message to a group within my church?
Sending messages to specific groups within the church is easy. You can create as many groups (we call them subgroups) as you need: (Youth, prayer team, church board, choir, etc.) Simply record the voice message or type the email or text message, and send that message to that specific group.

Does One Call Now work with my ChMS?
The One Call Now system is designed to work with nearly all ChMS systems. We offer multiple was to integrate church data into One Call Now, from a simple upload of an Excel or CSV file, to more advanced methods of automated data-synching.

Can one just deliver a message, or can you request a response?
The One Call Now system will allow you to get instant, real time responses from your members. If you need to get a quick head count of who will be attending a meeting, or if you need to gather information from your members, just record your message in a question and ask your people to respond by pressing a corresponding number on their keypad (i.e., “1” for “Yes,” “2” for “No,” and so forth), and get the results instantly. And even aside from this polling feature, One Call Now features a convenient message report functionality, which lets church leaders know who received a message and when that message was received. Bulletins, newsletters and even email struggle to have that kind of measured effectiveness.

Is there a limit to how many messages or texts I can send?
Our most popular plan for churches is the unlimited messaging plans. This plan is designed to allow you to send as many messages as you need. For churches that only send the occasional message once or twice a year, then we can offer a plan for that too.

Do I have to be in front of my computer at my desk to use this service?
No. You can send a message from any standard phone as well as all cell phones, tablets, and smart devices.

Would I have to start creating a new contact list from scratch?
If you already have a roster of names in a database or excel file, you can simply import that file into your OCN account, and with just a few clicks of the mouse, have your contact list completed.