How To Integrate Texting into Your Program/Message

Okay… I mean the following to be as practical a guide to adding the “Texting During Programs” as possible.  After a month or so of giving this a shot, we are seeing such huge results and many of my friends have started asking for the specifics on what we’re doing.  If you want the “why” we’re doing it you can read the article below on Texting and Twittering During Messages…  If you still need more “why” we’re doing it, email me.  So here’s the breakdown of “what” we’re doing with the texting and our program:

OUR TYPICAL PROGRAM CUE:

5 Minute Video Countdown

One Opening Worship Song

Welcome and TEXT QUESTION: (A question and my cell number goes up on the screens at this time.  I’ll pose a question that is relatively general in nature, but somewhat related to my message that I’ll be delivering later in the evening.  I try to phrase the question in a way that would have relevance to both boys and girls, believers and non-believers.  Something like – “If God exists, what are some things that would keep you from following Him?”  Many students who will be engaged by the texting during the message may be unchurched students, so pay particular attention to not alienating them by the nature of the question right off the bat.)

3 Worship Songs

Message Intro Video

TEXT QUESTION comes back on screens with my cell number

Message begins with reading some of their TEXTED answers: (I’ll then transition into the point of the message or the evening which is often deeply tied to the opening question.  I then encourage them to KEEP TEXTING during the rest of the message.  I ask them to TEXT me if they feel like God is trying to say something to them, if they have a question about something I’ve just said, or they have additional thoughts on the subject at the moment.  I also PLEAD with them passionately and nicely that if they are going to TEXT during the message they only TEXT ME… that they don’t abuse the freedom to text other people.  Yes, I get inappropriate texts from the students.  And no, not all of them who are texting only text me.  These are fun little speedbumps to pursuing something new.  You now get to enjoy the flood of texts that begin coming in during your talk… hopefully.)

Message continues with TEXTS: (This is the biggest issue I’m still working through.  There are computer programs like Mozes that allow you to view real-time texts on a computer screen.  This would afford you the opportunity to glance over at a laptop during your message and see more incoming TEXTED THOUGHTS at once, rather than having to scroll through the texts on your phone.  I have an iPhone and it’s still difficult to do this quickly.  I’m looking forward to implementing one of these computer programs soon if we can afford it.  In the meantime, I’ll be like most of you.  I will have my phone in my hand or on a table or music stand.  When I have students turn to “open their Bibles” or “check out this quick video clip” I’ll glance down at my phone and grab a couple more thoughts or questions.  If I hear or feel multiple vibrations of my phone, indicating many new TEXTS INCOMING, I’ll stop and glance through a couple.  I’m finding they hang with me, interested to see what someone just sent me.  Remember, these are junior highers I’m speaking with… so if you work with high schoolers or college students or older, it should only be easier in keeping their attention.  About halfway through the message I stow my phone in my pocket and feel the vibrations as texts continue to roll in.  This has an oddly encouraging effect.)

Worship Close

Shepherding Groups

Program Follow-Up (Or… THE REAL FUN!!): (Either after program that evening or the next day, I’ll begin to read and respond to many of the texts I’ve received from the students.  Pay particular attention to encouraging your core believing students who are interacting with you during the message.  But also pay HUGE attention to the students’ texts who you suspect are on the fringe or usually disengaged.  Most TEXTS that have come in are only labeled by a cell number, so you won’t have names.  I wouldn’t push too quickly for a name if you can tell the comment is coming from an unchurched kid.  Let them be anonymous for a moment.  In the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to talk about Jesus for the first time to students who TEXTED DURING A MESSAGE.  I’ve had the chance to connect students who were wanting to step out in their faith with other students in the same place, but not in their same group of friends.  I’ve had the chance to meet up face to face as follow-up to significant life issues expressed through TEXTING during a message.  This, arguably, is the most important piece of the TEXTING JOURNEY:  follow up with as many of the texts as you can. I wish I could post all the responses I’ve had from students in these last weeks!  Freakin’ amazing!)

Final Thoughts: (Encourage always.  Direct when appropriate.  Respond SUPER gently to the texts that are inappropriate.  After a time or two, many of the students who start texting inappropriately begin to open up feeling safe with you.  I ask for the students name as soon as possible if they haven’t offered it up.  Be open to letting questions and comments generated during TEXTS to steer your messages for other programs or series!  Keep your phone on vibrate during your messages.  It’d be really annoying to have your phone beeping hundreds of times during your talk.  Haha.  When ParaTweet goes live for presentations on screen for Twitter users, this will be another method accomplishing some of the same thing… although many junior highers are not on Twitter yet and there will be an anonymous element lost for more personal texts.  Pray a lot for the students!)

Final Final Thoughts: (I’m working through issues like these currently with respect to TEXTING DURING MESSAGES – parental consent/involvement, how to use volunteer leaders to respond to all incoming texts, create a culture where this is the norm between shepherding group leaders and students, how to involve students in this dialogue WHO DON’T HAVE TEXTING.)

I’ll keep you posted as this develops and evolves!  Praying for you and love to hear what you learn as you give this a shot.

Ron

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