Communication is very important for any church. Members need to know what is going on at their church. We want them to see important announcements, remind them of upcoming events, and ask them to pray for specific needs. Most churches have moved from letters to email, but these days email seems to drop the ball. Many are saying the social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) is the way to get your message out. However, as you read the articles in this special issue, you will see that social media simply doesn’t work.

Here are my TOP five ways to communicate your message to your members. And my first selection is 10 times more important that all of the other four!

The best way to communicate to your congregation today is through a broadcast text message!  It is fast (seconds for most). It has the highest delivery percentage of ANY other means of communicating out there, a higher than 97 percent chance that your message will be seen within 30 minutes. And it is read and has a greater impact than almost any other method of communication outside of a personal phone call. Why? Because text messages that pop up on our phone are considered very personal. Even if the person knows the same message has been sent to 1,000 other people, it will be perceived and valued as a personal communication method because of the nature of it coming to them as a text on their cell or smartphone.

Don’t confuse sending out a broadcast text with a group text. Group texts can be sent from your cell or smartphone by selecting people in your contact list and forming a “group”, and then send your text to this group. The problem with this kind of texting is that everyone in the group can then respond, sending their text to everyone else in the group. This can get old very fast, and turn people off from receiving group texts.

A broadcast text is sent using your ChMS to a specific group. Some ChMS have broadcast texting built into their service (Donarius, Elexio, and Church Community Builder are three examples). Or, if your ChMS works with One Call Now (and they work with almost all ChMS products!) you can send out broadcast texts as well. Simply select the group, write your text, and send!

With broadcast texts, you can include links to anything! Simply post your church newsletter, youth permission form, etc., and include the URL in the text. People will quickly see your text and have access to the announcement, prayer request or info you have included.

Why don’t more churches take advantage of broadcast texting? I don’t have a clue!

I remember when we started encouraging churches to use email almost 20 years ago. Most churches simply responded that their members didn’t have computers or an email address. Some held out so long that by the time they finally got on board, email was already on the way out!

Churches now believe their members don’t use text. Some might not, but that isn’t important to this discussion. If they don’t text, that doesn’t change things concerning sending them texts!

Five years ago, my wife and I served our church by having a Friday night book study at our church for single adults in their 50’s and 60’s. We met at 7 p.m., and my wife would make something for dinner for everyone. For our first year, we saw around 13 to 15 attend. After that first year, we set up a method to accomplish broadcast texts. We asked our group to allow us to set up their phones to receive our text messages. Back then a few still had to pay per text, but everyone still agreed. We collected the information we needed to text them, and we set up a table in the church’s lobby for several weeks signing up any single seniors that were interested. In just four months, we saw our attendance go from 15 to 35! The reason was obvious! Every Friday night around 5 p.m., we would send out a simple text that would remind them of our meeting at 7 p.m., tell them what chapter we were studying and inform them of what my wife had made for dinner. We heard many testimonies from this group how the texts helped remind them and enabled them to attend!

Here is our problem. While some believe church people are conservative and behind the curve when it comes to technology, church leaders are even worse! Believe me, your church, regardless of the age of your congregation, will benefit from broadcast texting. You can’t time an email to arrive and be read two hours before an event. But with text messages, you can time your announcement for maximum effect!

If you don’t know how to get texting set up for your church, contact the folks at One Call Now. They will set you up and enable you to send out broadcast texts as well as help you deliver voice messages.

So if texting is number one, what are the other four top communication methods I recommend? Before I provide them, remember, I value broadcast texting ten times greater than even number two, or the rest of the list!

My second choice for getting your message out to your congregation would be to use a voice message delivery system. One Call Now is again a great service to help you accomplish this.

Number three? Send personally addressed (including the return address) stamped (not from a postage meter system) letters. I know you can save money by using your non-profit postage permit and meter, but you are not really saving any money. In fact, I would suspect you are wasting money, because mail that arrives with a label or type addressed address with a meter mark for a stamp, hardly ever gets opened or read. It isn’t seen as personal, and “personal” is the key to getting your message out today.

Number four is a combination of public access sites were people searching for information about your church can find it! You should have a website, a Facebook site, and a video on YouTube with information about your church!

And, finally, number five. Email! It does still work. In fact, it still has a higher read rate than metered mail. It has a much higher read rate than your posts on Facebook and Twitter combined. Some might not think it is cool, but is now more secure and has about a 20 percent open rate.