It was my pleasure to speak with Michelle Dyke of Real Life Christian Church in Orlando, Florida.
Michelle (a former Actuary) shared that once, she considered herself a Christian who “believed in God but didn’t believe in going to church”. However, a life-changing life event made her feel lost, and she began looking for a local church. She initially, could not find a church that “felt right so I gave up”.
Praise God for his willingness to pursue the lost coin because she went home to Michigan for a high school reunion. As Michelle tells it, “God put someone (next to me) at my table from my high school who I didn’t know in high school.” Turned out, this woman lived several miles down the road from Michelle in Florida. The woman recommended her church, Real Life Christian Church. Michelle has been happily attending since 2009 and has been blessed to be on staff for about 4 years now.
Real Life is a multi-campus church with 8 locations in the Orlando area. The average weekend attendance is 6,500 at the main campus. Michelle, a numbers person, is their Database Director. She is in charge of dealing with new technology and, as she describes it, “doing ministry more efficiently”.
Before subscribing to PastorsLine, Real Life Church was using TextMarks texting and CCB twexting, but they weren’t satisfied.
Issues with the CCB Twexting Module
There were two major issues. First, to send a text they needed to know the contact’s mobile provider. Real Life Church had worked hard getting this information for many people (such as parents checking their kids in for Youth Ministry and VBS), but there were many others for whom they did not (such as first-time guests). With PastorsLine, you do not need to know the contact’s mobile provider. Second was the percentage of texts actually received by the contacts. With CCB, Real Life had about a 50% success rate. After they began texting via PastorsLine, “the rate increased and (they) had a lot fewer complaints of ‘I didn’t get the text.’ ”
Issues with TextMarks
TextMarks does not integrate with CCB. So, any information captured via TextMarks had to then be manually added to CCB. Real Life was pleased that “PastorsLine (was) very comparable in price and capabilities to TextMarks, but with the added advantage of integration with CCB for profile updates and automated syncing of groups for texting.”
How Real Life Church has used PastorsLine (and results)
Since it has several campuses, I asked Michelle if Real Life is using PastorsLine’s multi-number and multi-user options. She answered that the smaller campuses generally have only one number since the entire team works on everything. The larger campuses have several numbers...now. Michelle explained that at first, they were having different teams share the same number, but that wasn’t working out so well. “What was happening was people from one team would get texts from the other team and not know what to do with them, so we just split it up and gave each team ownership of their own number, and let them run with it, and figure out creative ways to use it. It was just a powerful tool to delegate...it was a tool that everybody can use not just our staff.”
Ease of Control and Management
Michelle told me they use the PastorsLine ‘role’ feature to ensure they have control. Almost everyone is set as a ‘user’, with permissions for a particular number and just the communication relating to that number, so “people see only the areas they need to see”.
Michelle and Real Life got involved with PastorsLine due to our PL-CCB integration, and they have not been disappointed. For example, using PastorsLine has increased the number of first-time guests in their contacts lists. Michelle told me, “We track first-time visitors, i.e. first time someone shows up in CCB, and try to see the sources. Few of our visitors actually fill out our paper connection card. We’re seeing more and more of them coming through on a text message, and now these are people we can communicate with and reach that we couldn’t before, and we wouldn’t have been able to reach if we hadn’t been using a tool like PastorsLine.”
“Were there any other advantages to using PastorsLine?” I asked Michelle. She replied that having local numbers is a big advantage. The church can use different area codes to match the area code of the campus location. Michelle told me that “a lot of times people think this is the pastor’s personal phone/text number because often times, it is one of our pastors who’s responding and talking...but if that pastor...needs to take a break, then we can have someone else on the team step in and continue the conversation seamlessly”. This seamless communication also means that church staff on vacation don’t get ‘work messages’ because “ownership of responding doesn’t fall on one person but (appears) seamless to those contacting your church”.
I wanted to know if there were any interesting or big wins she could tell me about. Michelle told me about two.
Aid during Hurricane Irma
One was Real Life’s first ever major use of PastorsLine: during Hurricane Irma in 2017. Real Life had only recently signed up for PastorsLine. Michelle told me that our platform was a huge help. Power was out in one of the campuses. Many families had lost power, too. So, landlines and the Internet were not working. However, texts were getting out and getting received. Real Life was able to use PastorsLine to notify their members about the campus which was closed, giving service times for the closest, open campus. Michelle says that PastorsLine was “an amazing tool...God sent it to us at the right time”.
21 Days for Prayer Campaign
Another big win was Real Life’s “21 Days of Prayer” campaign. Let’s let Michelle tell the story, “We had people text the word ‘Pray’ to our main line, and it signed them up for a prayer series of 21 days. Every morning, we sent them a PastorsLine text, and it would give them a link, and it would open up to some Bible verses and a prayer that we wanted everyone at our church to pray. We thought we might have a few hundred...2-300 people sign up for this. We had almost 1500 people text and join. We were sending out 21 days worth of messages to almost 1500 people who were praying for our church and praying for our community.”
Plans in progress?
What’s coming up for Real Life and PastorsLine? At the moment, they are piloting automated, reminder messages. Real Life pastors want to see their attendance numbers right away. The church uses Church Metrics by Life.Church to take attendance, but people are forgetting to enter their numbers by Sunday evening. It works well when someone from the team sends them out a reminder text from PastorsLine. So, the church, at the time of our interview, was in the process of using PastorsLine to set up some automated, weekly texts to remind people to enter their attendance numbers after an event.
PastorsLine would like your church to have its own success story...with or without an integration. But you need to begin in order to see the effects, so get started now by signing up for your PastorsLine 30-day free trial.