Saddleback Church Text Messaging Case Study
Saddleback Church is one of the largest and most influential churches in America. Located in Southern California, Saddleback serves the community with over 4,000 small group fellowships, more than 500 ministries of various kinds, local and global outreaches touching every country around the world, and five different local locations for services each week. Saddleback’s purpose is to lead people to Jesus Christ and membership in his family, teach them to worship the Lord and magnify His name, develop them to Christ-like maturity, and equip them for ministry within the church and a mission in the world.
Saddleback Church sought to achieve several goals. These goals included:
- While parents attend church, children attend a program specifically designed for their age group. In the past, when parents needed to be reached about their child, they were reached via a pager issued to them at check-in. This hardware solution was costly, cumbersome, and unreliable. Saddleback needed a more cost-effective and consistently reliable solution.
- Saddleback wanted to increase the interactivity of their services. These are always webcasted, and in the case of major services, broadcast on television.
- Send daily verse messages to members who wish to subscribe to them.
Saddleback Church settled on text messaging to achieve all of these objectives. They chose EZ Texting’s group text messaging platform for its low cost, and flexible, powerful API. Saddleback connected their membership database to the EZ Texting SMS gateway using the API. All communications are synchronized and seamless.
Saddleback easily replaced the pager system with SMS notifications, reducing the need to hand out pagers to each parent. When a parent needs to be notified, the worker simply pulls up the family’s information in the attendance system, and sends a text message to the parent’s cellular phone. Within seconds, the message passes through EZ Texting’s gateway and is delivered to the parent.
During major services – Easter and Christmas – Saddleback integrates text messaging into their program. In 2009, People watching on their computer or on television were encouraged to text Easter to 313131 to learn more about Saddleback. This year, Easter services were held at Angel Stadium, broadcast on XM and Sirius satellite radio, and webcast around the world. Those in attendance, and tuning in from outside the stadium, were encouraged to text Saddleback to 313131 to respond to the challenge issued in the sermon. An automatic response was sent back with some information about the church, which also asked for the recipient’s email address. As soon as the person texted back their email address, the message was passed, via the API, to Saddleback’s systems. An email message containing more info about Saddleback was then sent to back to them.
Saddleback recently ran a trivia contest before their 2010 Easter services. Those in the stadium were encouraged to text in codes corresponding to various answers (SB1, SB2, etc.). When they texted in their answer to the various questions, they were encouraged to sign up for subscription alerts by a return text message.
Many Saddleback members want to receive daily Bible verse text messages. Members signup for and manage these message subscriptions on the Saddleback website. These are also used during special small group campaigns to allow for more specific, targeted messages to be sent.
Parents appreciate the text message notification system, which replaced the pager system. This has saved time and money for the church, and provided a more reliable way for parents to be contacted about their child’s needs.
The interactive elements have become increasingly popular parts of Saddleback’s services. Text messaging allows audiences both inside and outside of the church itself to interact during the service in a manner never before possible.
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