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Do any of you use texting in your church? I think it’s a promising idea. Some churches encourage texting during church services, some use it for sending news, encouragement, prayer requests, whatever information they wish to share.

ChurchJuice has an article with notes from a webinar by Tim Schraeder, Director of Communications at Park Community Church in Chicago, on how they use texting at his church. Schraeder also wrote this article, “To Text or Not to Text.”

Have you ever thought of it? Using texting to communicate with your congregation? Even during the sermon? Or sending texts throughout the week, to keep in touch, remind people of events, discuss the sermon, whatever it might be?

One of the reasons Schraeder lists NOT to use texting is “because everyone else is.” I can see where it would be tempting to consider texting just because it’s popular, especially if your congregation has younger members. Texting is pretty universal in their world. Recently I listened to a speaker (and author) at Calvin College’s January Series, Sherry Turkle, who spoke about some people who prefer texting to actual human contact, even a phone call. Texting gives us some distance and the feeling of control over how much we’ll say or hear, what we’ll reveal, even how long the conversation will last. I would not advocate texting as a substitute for human contact, but it is here, and it has its place. It’s worthwhile deciding how it can be used for good.

One of the reasons Schraeder lists in favor of texting is “to lower the barrier between the pulpit and the congregation.” Using texting for Q&A during or after the service “allows people the opportunity to voice questions or thoughts they might not normally have the opportunity to express.” I can sympathize with that. I often have thoughts or questions during a sermon and I’ll resolve to email the pastor later, sometimes I even write a note to myself on the bulletin, but usually I forget. It does seem like if we could instantly send our question or thought via text, it could be a way to deepen our understanding of the sermon’s message.

I attended a technology seminar where the speaker had his Twitter account on the wall behind him. As he spoke, we could watch the tweets coming in, not only from the audience about what he was discussing at the time, but also from others he was already conversing with on Twitter. It could have been distracting, trying to keep track of both things, but somehow he made it work. I don’t know how effective it would be to have something like that behind a minister giving a sermon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some preachers could make it work.

Of course, texting isn’t something that would necessarily fit every church family. As Schraeder writes, “If people are barely using your web site, chances are they aren’t ready to receive text messages from you.” And having tweets rolling behind the minister while he gives his sermon is kind of an extreme example. Ministers who use texting typically will receive the questions and comments on their mobile device while preaching, then review several at the end of the sermon.

And you can use texting for more than Q&A about sermons. It can be an effective way to communicate with your church family -- anything from prayer requests to church news and announcements. There are companies, such as Jarbyco  and TextHub (two that Schraeder cites), that can assist you in setting up systems for using texting as a communication tool.

So, what’s going on out there in your world? Is your church texting? Are you texting? Have you seen texting used effectively in God’s Kingdom work? 

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