(This is a guest post by Alex Voigt)
You’ve got 1,844 church groups (committees, youth groups, small groups, etc.) and you need to keep in contact with them. And they are different ages requiring various forms of communication. And it needs to be affordable. Today, you’re in luck.
I was in the very same situation trying to negotiate a Tuesday basketball group, youth group, young adult group, and worship committee. It’s not realistic to call each person so I needed a better way to communicate with them. I tried various outlets including social media, email lists (through sites like MailChimp & Constant Contact), and even setting reminders on my phone to contact a person when I was likely to be around them. None of these were particularly effective. I eventually settled on a mass texting service called RainedOut. I soon found that text messaging was the most effective means of communication in the church group setting. However, certain limitations left me looking for better service. RainedOut places an advertisement in each text, does not deliver replies to your mass text, and requires logging in using a web browser.
Then I learned about Remind. Remind is a group texting (and email) service created for schools and is very useful for churches. Remind has a simple to use website and app that allow for sending mass texts and receiving individual replies. The service is completely free and has a very low learning curve.
How does it work?
After downloading the app and creating an account, you will create a class. In case you’re wondering the legality (or ethics) of using this service in a church instead of a school, I’ve read the entire terms & conditions (you’re welcome!) and found nothing stating that a church may not use this service. In fact, they use the word “organization” instead of school in most places. Name the class as the name of your group. Next you’ll be prompted to create a handle so users can subscribe for notifications (e.g. @thevinepc). After doing this, you’re ready for subscribers. Simply have your group members sign up by texting your handle (e.g. @thevinepc) to 81010 or following the email sign-up instructions in the app.
The group member will receive a confirmation text or email and will reply with their name so you can see names of the people who are signed up. From there, each message you send will be delivered to each individual in the group. It’s that easy!
Though I wish the app were not titled and labeled for school use, this app fulfills almost all other needs for a church. One word of warning is that your group members will be asked to “reply to the teacher.” You’ll need to notify your group members ahead of time that you are the teacher they’re replying to. Besides this small sacrifice, I’m sure you’ll find this to be a super helpful tool that’ll hopefully recapture a few precious minutes of your busy life.
What I like:
Intuitive user interface
Push app message replies
Choice of text or email for the same message
Cost! (Free with no advertisements)
What could improve:
School/teacher terms may confuse group members
What do you think? Have you tried Remind before? What are you using in your context? Let us know below in our comments.