Have phone, will travel

FaithBasedCommunicationNetwork-lrgFresh ideas for a tried-and-true connection tool

Generally, are mission groups mobilizing phone tree systems?

Yes; routinely. Mission teams can call in remotely and distribute messages with updates on their trip. Anything they want or need to be communicated — including prayer requests, updates and changes in schedule — are as easy as a single call. A group leader can use any touchtone phone to start a new contact job, without having to be in the office. These systems can also offer a pre-recorded message which people can call in to hear.

Among the churches that aren’t using these systems in this way, what do you think is holding them back?

Often, customers buy it to use for one reason, and they don’t realize all its other applications. For example, it used to be that mission group leaders coming back from a trip had to activate a manual phone tree to spread a change of arrival time. Today, it’s as easy as making a single call, recording a message, and activating the distribution. That mission group leader also gets a report with confirmation of who got the message.

If a church group heads to a foreign country, is using these systems still an option?

Yes. Group leaders can call the remote access to send messages. Or, they can place a pre-recorded message on an info line.

How else are churches creatively using their phone tree systems to drive ministry?

A church leader in Georgia comes to mind. He uses his system to deliver a message to homebound congregants on Sunday mornings. To do that, he records an abbreviated version of the sermon.

A homebound member told him she gets dressed as if she were going to church, sits in her chair, and waits for her church to “come to her.” From that moment on — even if the technology had no other purpose than connecting the disconnected to the church — it was worth any cost to him.

JillBaileyBased in Winston-Salem, NC, PhoneTree offers a church phone tree system that sends automated phone, text, email and social media messages to everyone in a church’s communication network.

— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

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