Bishop Eric Freeman of The Meeting Place Church (TMPC) in Columbia, South Carolina is a texting pro. His first texting campaign in 2006 had gained no traction, but four years later while planting churches in east Africa, Freeman saw how one church in Kenya had over 1 million SMS subscribers. Realizing the landscape had changed for texting, he decided to give it another go and he chose TextMarks Group SMS to reach and engage his church back home.
TextMarks has become a vital artery to our constituency”
– Bishop Eric Freeman, The Meeting Place Church
Closing The Back Door
“There is no doubt that using SMS has increased our attendance,” said Freeman, “but the bigger challenge is retention, or closing the back door.” To retain members, TMPC needed to engage them. “We used email before and paper methods, to try and get responses for our surveys or remind them to join our meetings and calls, but we would get a handful of responses.”
Solid Church Communication Strategy
TMPC had a very well planned out church communication strategy and began using TextMarks SMS to send group text messages to their members. Gaining subscribers has not been a problem for Freeman, who often asks members to text 41411 in the middle of the service to subscribe to his group. A TextMarks HTML widget has also been placed on the Meeting Place Church homepage as a way to sign up subscribers through their website. To date, he has close to 400 subscribers for his local Meeting Place Church, and over 1000 subscribers for the Christian Covenant Fellowship of Ministries, a national umbrella organization from all TMPC Churches nationwide.
Freeman uses TextMarks Group SMS for reminders and announcements, outreach and teaching, and surveys. Every morning, he hosts a live prayer conference call and schedules reminders to his text groups to join in. He also sends out Sunday service announcements the night before, with the sermon topic and service times in his text to encourage attendance. And to reinforce his teachings, he sends out group text messages the the following Monday, reiterating what was said at the Sunday sermon. Finally, he collects feedback from his members by texting out links to surveys.
Higher Response Rates, A More Engaged Constituency with Group SMS
With TextMarks, prayer call attendance has quadrupled and continues to improve the more his subscriber base grows. “TextMarks is now just a part of our organic landscape. The type of engagement gained from texting is like having another version of small groups. It keeps people connected and is a less intimidating way for people to engage with our church.”
The results of his most recent survey is especially noteworthy. Campaigns to get members to respond to a recent survey had generated an 8% response rate from email compared to a 64% response rate from SMS!
“TextMarks has become a vital artery to our constituency. Using SMS not only helps us grow our church, but allows us to engage and retain our members.”
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