The limited resources of many churches mean each ‘asset’ should multitask as much as possible. Communication apps are no exception. I recently had a chance to speak with Kristen Waddle, Communications and Production Director of Nebo Crossing Church in Nebo, North Carolina (formerly Eastside Baptist) about their experiences with PastorsLine.
Kristen’s connection to Nebo Crossing is much more than her church role—her grandfather was the founding pastor and began the church in 1978. Although she’s been a part of Nebo Crossing since she was born, Kristen came on board their staff in a full-time position about six years ago, working in a different family business until 2012.
Nebo Crossing has a church membership of about 400. Some 10-15 first-time guests show up each week, needing data capture and follow-up. This was a particular need since Nebo Crossing felt they had a bit of a ‘back door issue’: they were not so good at guest follow-up, and as a result, there were a lot of people attending but a lot of turnovers, too. The church staff is small, so apps need to do their best to ‘help out’ as much as possible.
Nebo Crossing strives for accepting people as they are, not expecting them to fit a certain standard. “One of the things we’re known for is truly loving people, open arms, accepting them right when they walk in our door…before they walk in our door. We’re not expecting people to look a certain way, talk a certain way before they get here, and that’s definitely one of the things we’re known for in our community…one of the things we strive for, honestly.”
So, about a year ago, when Nebo Crossing felt the need to improve their communications software, they had the following wish list: the latest in texting, a CCB integration, automation, and not to be using their private cell phone numbers. In other words, communication software which would be automated, streamlined AND sustainable.
Kristen shared, “When we were looking at changing our communication software, we were looking specifically for things we could automate, that was sustainable. People tend to guard their contact information, and so we wanted to make it as easy as possible. At the same time, we wanted to make the follow up on our end as streamlined as possible.”
And during the year+ they’ve been using PastorsLine, have they gotten what they were looking for? Kristen told us, “It’s really great for our ministry. I have (the) app on my cell phone, so I can get notifications…even when I’m home I can respond…but I’m not having to give everybody my personal cell phone number either. I love that they can just text a keyword to a number, and they can sign up for just a whole host of groups [such as a VIP group for 1st-time guests, a Kids Crossing group and various small groups].”
With the help of PastorsLine, the Nebo Crossing first-time guest follow-up looks like this: On Sunday, first-time guests can send a text to opt in. Assuming they do, they get ‘keep in touch’ texts on Wednesday and Saturday to say, “Hope you can make it on Sunday.”
Kristen also likes how quickly she can keep their ministry in the loop. Instead of relying on Facebook, Nebo Crossing’s church members text ‘LOOP’ to their PastorsLine number. Kristen says, “I am able to put something in their hands just as quickly as they would get a text message from me.”
Her ability to be ‘hands-on’ when needed is another benefit. “ I] like that I can monitor who is signing up for a group: One gentleman signed up for alerts from our kid’s ministry…didn’t want him necessarily doing that. + Some of the parents texted their kids’ names instead of theirs, so [I] went in and fixed that.”
I was curious if Nebo Crossing is using our multiple keywords for one trigger feature. Kristen told me, “Yes, opt-ins were put into process queues for follow up.”
Kristen said, “I have been so impressed by the level of personal support that I get from PastorsLine. I know that if I’m having an issue, all I have to do is turn on the chat function or send an email, and I know that I’ll get a personal phone call or a chat back from Jason or Anne or somebody there that I know is, like, care about my problem and wants to get it fixed and wants to dive down in and find out why that problem is there.”
We humbly accept the compliment. We take customer support very seriously and are glad it shows.
At the moment, Kristen is THE communications department. The church is not making use of PastorsLine’s multiple users + roles feature. However, this is in the process of change.
Nebo Crossing plans to allow volunteers to help with their guest follow-up via the PastorsLine multiple users + roles feature. Kristen explained that her church invites guests to ask questions about the church by texting a certain number. She wants to turn over this aspect to volunteers. “I see us using the multiple user functions as more faces and more people that can create a relationship with guests on the church’s behalf. So, I am able to delegate some of my responsibilities as a communication director and multiply myself over the course of several volunteers, so that I’m not tied down to being the one to communicate with every single guest that comes through our doors.”
Just one more thing…
As we always do before our conversations, we took a moment with Kristen to ask for God’s blessing. We’d like to share her reaction: “Thank you so much for the amount of time you spend in this. I recognize you do see it as a ministry, and I appreciate that. And thank you for taking the time to pray with me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a customer service person do that before. So, that’s pretty great.”
Looking to check out for yourself how PastorsLine can improve the automation, streamlining, and sustainability of your church texting?