This fall we are doing a text (SMS) message campaign as part of our student ministry push to encourage reading the Bible. Each weekday we will be sending a suggested reading to student who wants it; this reading will relate to what we are talking about during one of our weekly programs in each of the Middle School, High School, and College-Age Ministries. There are several mass texting services out there, but the costs add up quickly. Google Voice, with some work-arounds, can let you do that for free.
1. Set up a Google Voice Account. Google Voice is a great tool that allows you to make phone calls, transcribe voice mails, and text message. The great news is that Google Voice lets you do the texting for free.
2. Get Phone Numbers. When we decided to do a texting campaign as a part of our weekly program, I put our Google Voice number on the screen and had students text “I’m in” along with their name. This allowed me to for the most part have some idea of who would be getting the text messages.
3. Add phone number e-mail addresses to a group. Now this is where is gets tricky because Google Voice doesn’t on its own allow you to send Mass text messages, but fortunately because each phone number is attached to an e-mail address you can easily use your e-mail client to make this possible. When you initially set up Google Voice it will forward text messages to your e-mail inbox. When this happens, use the e-mail address (not phone number) from your inbox and add it as a contact and into your e-mail client’s group. The e-mail address might not look pretty, but it works when you send a message.
4. Send e-mail to that group. Once you have multiple e-mail address (which are each uniquely tied to a phone number) you can launch your e-mail client and send a group e-mail which sends out that same e-mail as a mass text message to everyone.
For some other ideas of how you might utilize Google Voice in your student ministry check out 4 Ways to Use Google Voice in Youth Ministry.