My Church Does SMS

One of the places I get scolded by Mrs. Guru the most for using my cell phone is in church. I’m usually just checking the time or whatever, but it bothers her alot. You can imagine my joy, then, last week, when I was invited to turn my phone on silent, and then send an SMS, right there in church!

Our church has added a cool feature where I can text in a question during the sermon, and at the end, the pastor takes a few minutes to answer some of the questions that were sent in. More of the questions are posted on the church’s blog later in the week, if they weren’t able to be answered on Sunday.

Here’s the ‘ad’ (announcement?) in the Sunday morning brochure:

04142009001

Now, the mobile nut in me will notice that while the phone pictured is the Nokia 6680, which is powered by S60, it is also over 3 years old, and a model that was never sold in the United States (Cingular carried the 6682 for a while, which is similar, but not the model pictured). However, that’s not the point.

Here’s the response I got when I sent in a test question:

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Definitely a well-done response message. They thank me for participating, and offer me a next action, if I choose to further interact. Unfortunately, there is a single fail point – the URL points to a regular desktop site, with no mobilization at all. While this was fine for me, with a smartphone, and the nice-sized batch of iPhone users in our church, there’s also a good portion of ‘dumbphones’ that likely don’t have a powerful web browser handy.

The church clearly needs to complete the loop by setting up a mobile-friendly landing page, specifically for these users. Since the URL is being presented to the user, rather than being typed in, it would likely be OK to use m.McKinneyChurch.com, though an auto-detect would obviously be the best option for this. This landing page could offer contact information for the church, be a mobile version of the blog mentioned, or any number of other useful content that would facilitate more interaction.

In any case, I rather like the ability to pose questions anonymously, and definitely think that it helps others who might not be comfortable speaking out to ask a question, or who might not know who to ask. This setup also closely adheres to my belief that technology should enrich and enable real life, and not get in the way. In this case, it enables others to easily get answers to questions they might have, in a nonthreatening way. It also enriches others, as it helps the staff know what things the congregation might be confused about, or what things would be good to focus future sermons on.

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