I’ll be honest, I find myself growing increasingly concerned about the frequency at which people communicate by text messages instead of other methods. From the friend that sends three or four texts in a row to “discuss” an issue that clearly needs to be brought up on a voice call to the minister that recruits volunteers via text instead of a well-crafted email or phone call, to friends who now text large groups of friends inviting them to next week’s Tupperware party. 

I’ve been thinking about why this has begun to bother me so much. For one, I only pay for 250 texts per month and last month, I went over and had to pay extra fees (I hate that). I felt like I was being rude when I replied to text messages saying “please don’t reply back, I’m out of texts for the month.” It irks me that friends and family can’t just call to talk anymore – it seems like folks only have time for short, nearly impersonal messages.

When it comes to my church tech public relations work, I never use text messages, nor do my clients. Email or phone calls are the main methods of communication.

If you work at a church, what main methods of communication do you use to 1) communicate with staff 2) communicate with members and 3) communicate with volunteers?

Many church management systems (ChMS) offer members the ability to log in a choose their preferred communication methods, but for the other 90% of the church members that haven’t told you how they like to be communicated with, what are your tactics?

Here’s my two cents:

1) Never text a church member or volunteer unless they’ve told you they prefer texts or you already communicate with them personally via text.

2) If you do have the go ahead to text a church member for an event or volunteer position, make sure the texts contain only info like “worship rehearsal is tonight at 5pm – let me know if you’ll be late” – short, sweet and uncomplicated. Anything more detailed or involved and an email or phone call is needed.

3) Be careful about replying to text messages you receive from members or leaders that deserve a more thoughtful or human reply. It’s very easy to be misunderstood and unclear when only a few words are allowed. When in doubt, it’s always better to talk through a prayer request, meet for coffee, Skype, whatever allows the conversation to take on a more human form.

I hope these tactics help – surely if you have any additional suggestions, please leave a comment below!

Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, church technology consultant (http://lhpr.net) and founder of the blog ChurchTechToday (http://ChurchTechToday.com), Technology for Today’s Church.