The next member featured in our Known, Noticed, and Loved series is Faith Brown from Crosspoint Fellowship Church in Schertz, Texas. In response to COVID 19, Faith and her team at Crosspoint organized Drive Through Prayer, a Blood Drive, a Food Drive, and service projects for the elderly/at risk in their community. I was once again inspired by the way this church stepped up when the rest of the world shut down. It’s an incredible testimony to the hope and relentless love carried out by the local church. I know her words will be an encouragement to you, too!
COVID 19; the shutdown of business as usual, shelter in place orders, no school, no church, no anything, created a huge vacuum in our communities. People were disconnected and searching for that small way they can contribute meaningfully or to make a difference. Churches stepped up and used a wide variety of platforms to stream services and small groups. But how do you get people both in your church and in your community to move from their computers, tablets, and smart phones to impacting the community? A practical way to drive engagement and participation is by leveraging text messages to inform people of opportunities, allow them to sign-up via text, and to keep them up to date on what is happening with the "event." We've had 12 successful Drive Through Prayers, a Blood Drive, a Food Drive, and a 4 month long effort to care for the elderly/at risk populations by running errands/doing chores. Success is measured in lives changed and there have been plenty of lives changed... all because we were able to communicate quickly and effectively through text messages and use digital sign-ups through text.
How many volunteers have signed up to help?
We had a great response from volunteers when we launched these different initiatives! For the Blood Drive, we had 41 people donate blood (which will help 123 people) and 4 people assist with the logistics of the blood drive.
In March, we launched Give Help! Get Help! Which enabled people in our church to sign up to serve (Give Help) and people outside of our church to let us know of needs they have that we can help with. We also launched a Text Based Prayer Request Team. We had 87 volunteers sign up!
We also started a weekly Drive Through Prayer event. We have had over 112 people volunteer at these. Even greater, they have prayed with 312 people to date!
Any stories from volunteers?
Yes, I have loved getting these to hear these stories! One of our volunteers, Jeff, takes out an elderly lady’s trash weekly. He says, “It is something so small, yet she is so thankful.” She told Jeff, “I’ve never felt so loved and you didn’t even know me. I’ve never been to your church.”
Another, Alvin, volunteers weekly at Drive Through Prayer and was overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to lead James to a personal relationship with Jesus. James began their conversation with, “I kept seeing you praying with people every week at Drive Through Prayer. So I wanted to find out about this.”
Before giving blood after beating cancer 2 years ago, Cindy said, “I love that you gave me a chance to make a difference for someone else.”
At the food drive, donors kept saying, “I’ve been looking for a way I can help those in need. Thank you!”
The family in the picture wasn’t comfortable attending church, but they were okay being outside helping at the food drive. The mom said, “It feels so good to be back serving our community at church again.”
I really believe in situations of crisis, and in life in general, people want to be helpful and they want to serve others. However, so often they are immobilized simply because they don’t know what to do or where to start. By having opportunities for people to love on others at their comfort level, we saw such an incredible response!
What system are you using for sign-up's? Is it keeping you connected with people?
We use Text In Church keywords to allow people to join groups or sign-up for volunteer opportunities. We use text messages, pre-service slides, our website, and social media to let people know about “events” or “opportunities”. We ask them to participate by texting in a keyword. Then we follow up by text and/or email (all fully automated) to invite them to fill out more information in a google document if it is needed.
Is it open to your entire community or just your church family? If to those outside of your church, are you following up with them?
Give Help! was for our church community. We sent texts inviting them to the group. Prayer requests and Get Help! were focused on serving those outside of our church or community. Most of those we helped and prayed with were not affiliated with our church. The blood drive was promoted on social media and within our church via text. We follow-up with everyone to thank them and invite them to other opportunities.
If they aren't in our Stay Connected church group that is made up of our regular attendees who opted in, we invite them to join that group.
Will you continue with an effort like this even as the number of positive cases of COVID begins to slow?
As we gain more information on more people because of our digital connection cards, we will continue to invite them to participate and communicate via text. Text is the most responsive of all our communication methods. We have the capacity for unlimited keywords that we want, and we don’t need to be creative because we aren’t sharing a short code with multiple businesses. So the potential is unlimited.
Were you using Text In Church before this? If so, how?
Yes! Text In Church has been a huge part of our processes, especially in the guest experience/hospitality realm. We use it for the following things:
Plan a Visit
Sign-Ups for Next Steps
Contests/Giveaways in Service
Journey Team Sign-Up
Weekly Dream Team
Member Encouragement Messages
Whole Church Text Notifications (not used a whole lot for this - just occasionally)
How did COVID change your perspective on Text In Church, if at all?
The pandemic only made it more apparent that I cannot live without Text In Church. REALLY! I rely so much on the platform for my ongoing communications with guests. When everything went online and physical contact became minimal, my need for it only increased. I was so thankful for the ability to pivot how we used it while still continuing with some of our tried and true methods. For example, because we had such a solid guest follow-up system in place using Text In Church, that didn’t have to get re adjusted when we went online. I was able to connect just as intentionally with guests who checked us out online as I had been.
How did you decide to pair Text In Church with COVID relief efforts?
We began using it to reach all members, not just new guests. We used it as a way to kind of clean up our database also. We invited everyone who had a mobile number to stay connected or opt out. Now we have a group who wants to stay connected and updated.
Have you ever used TIC for an outreach/service initiative like this before?
Yes. We used it for our Kids Crazy Christmas Party, where we hosted over 600 kids, 500 parents, and 250 volunteers. Not to mention Ninja Warrior Daniel Gil! It was an awesome event! It helped us gain attendees, volunteers, and keep everyone informed.
What encouragement do you have for other churches looking to be the hands and feet of Jesus and feeling stuck?
Loving people cannot be done wrong! Making people feel known, noticed, and loved is the first and most impactful way we can let them know and see that Jesus knows, sees and loves them! Just start!