Chances are you’ve sent a few texts already today.
So it would seem that sending a text message to your church community would be the easiest, most natural thing in the world.
Except it isn’t.
There’s something about typing out a message on your phone with your thumbs, knowing it will be read by everyone in the church—men and women, young and old, married couples and singles, newcomers and familiar faces. They’ll all hear their phone chime or vibrate, and there your message will be. No taking it back. No do-overs.
Up on stage or in a small gathering, you communicate not just with your words, but with your tone, your inflection, your body language. Somehow, it’s much more difficult to say what you really mean to say with a simple text message.
Knowing that texting your congregation is not always as simple as it should be, here are a few things to keep in mind before you press Send.
#1. Be yourself
Think about how you normally communicate with your church.
Are you ordinarily polished and professional? Or are you more casual and down-to-earth? A text is not the time to change it up.
Your message should sound like you, recognizable as your voice, familiar to the people in your congregation who know you well.
Remember to infuse your message with personality. The last thing you’d want is for your text to sound as if it had been generated by the latest in bot technology, designed to share the facts but not the emotion of what you have to say.
God’s people and God’s work are personal to you, so your text message should be personal as well.
#2. Think about who you’re texting
Keep your audience in mind when writing your message.
Think of your congregation and its priorities and values.
You’re likely writing to families, but also to single parents, senior citizens, and young singles. Are there issues you need to avoid and others you want to be sure to mention?
Just remember, you’re sending a text to your church, and it’s full of real people with real struggles.
#3. Hook people at the beginning
Think of your text message the way you would a Sunday sermon or a magazine article—you want to grab the attention of your audience with the first thing you say. Consider it your headline.
You’re giving people a reason to keep reading your text, so make those first few words something that stops them dead in their tracks and compels them to read the rest of your message.
For example, if you’re texting to let your church know about a new sermon series on the book of Revelation, try “Be sure to join us this Sunday for the end of the world.” Or if you want people to sign up for small groups, consider, “I’m writing today, because it’s time to make an important decision, one with the power to change your life.”
These are just examples.
Be sure to write something that fits your voice and your church, but don’t miss the opportunity to capture their attention.
#4. Be specific, and include a call to action
What’s the ONE thing you want people to do after reading your text?
Sign up for an event?
Reply with a response to your question?
Know your church service was canceled because of inclement weather?
Be clear in communicating the one action you want people to take.
What is more, don’t include more than one request. Text messages are great for communicating only one thing. They don’t do the work of a church bulletin, and they’re not the same as announcements during a Sunday morning service.
#5. Less is best
Text messages work well when they’re short and to the point.
Don’t try to cram too much in.
It’s best to send one text (SMS message) at a time. Keep in mind that If you write more than 160 characters—and that limit includes links—then your message will be broken up into multiple SMS messages.
No need to write a treatise on the state of your church or a letter to your congregation. Send one clear, concise, and compelling message.
If you have lots of information or details to share, include them in a link, but don’t try to fit it all in a single text—and avoid sending a string of messages all at once.
#6. Proofread whatever you write
It may be helpful to write a draft of your message on your computer first, in a word processing program. There’s no danger of accidentally hitting Send, and you can take time to edit and proofread your text.
Walk away from your draft for some time, and then come back to it later to double-check your spelling, grammar, message, and any clickable links you’re including.
Pro tip: Don’t rely on autocorrect or Grammarly. These tools can be helpful, but they’re not always right and can also cause a lot of turmoil.
#7. Send your text at the right time
Do you know what no one likes?
Receiving a text message in the middle of the night or when they’re getting ready for work or their kids ready for school in the morning. Many social media experts will tell you mid-afternoon is the best time to grab your audience but consider your own church, then decide a time that works best for you.
If you stop to think about it, it’s amazing
With that phone in your pocket, you can send everyone in your church a quick encouragement, let them know about an upcoming event, or communicate important news. Technology, if we learn to use it well, can be a gift to God’s people.
So, in your church’s communication strategy, send that text message and let them hear from you.
You’ve got this!