(The Juicys are a way to recognize and reward those churches who’ve worked to improve their church communications during the last year. It includes giving them a grant to jump start their next project.)
For Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA, this Juicys story starts at an outdoor Christmas service. As the Gospel was presented, church staff realized they needed a way to connect with people who wanted to respond. And having them physically come forward wasn’t going to work.
“It was dark and the area was packed with lawn chairs and blankets,” says Minister of Communications Allen Hendrix. “So, thinking quickly, we asked people to text us if they were ready to accept Jesus. We put one of our Minister's cell phone number on the 80' x 45' screen. His phone lit up like a Christmas tree!”
The surprise response from that on-the-spot decision got the staff thinking about how they could incorporate texting into their weekly services. They convinced their pastor to use a short code text message as part of the altar call.
“We had been using the tried and true methods of having people ‘come forward’ at the end of the service or coming by the pastor's reception after the service,” explains Hendrix. “We felt people wanted a less public method to admit they were sinners.”
When someone texts the word “ready” to a displayed five-digit number an email is sent to one of their pastors within seconds. They can then respond accordingly and counsel the person online or in person.
“It's affordable. It's fast. We’ve seen a large increase in salvations via this system,” says Hendrix.
Broadmoor knew not everyone in the church of 1,400 would think Text Ready was a good idea. Even though it was one of three options and people could still respond in a more traditional way, some older folks thought the whole idea was un-Biblical.
“We had to teach through that attitude,” says Hendrix. “Once the baptism testimonies started happening, where people were saying that they had always been scared or embarrassed to walk forward, and that being able to send a text message changed their life, the older crowd began to soften.”
One of our judges wrote, “Isn't it amazing how good church communications can take down hurdles for people who want to take that next step in their faith? Broadmoor Baptist recognized that their traditional altar call was a barrier for some, and they found an ingenious way for people to profess a decision to follow Christ. The bottom line is that this ultimately serves the people and puts their needs first.”
Broadmoor isn’t done using new technology yet. They already have plans to spend their $2,000 grant on a project called ID Booth.
“We want to place photo booths that are equipped with video capturing in several locations in our building,” explains Hendrix. “People will use the booths to give a three-minute testimony about what God is doing in their lives. It's instant and available. We will post the video files on our website and social media platforms.”
It’s an idea one of our judges loved. “Being able to easily share and readily hear people's life stories and faith journey will not only be inspirational, it will also deepen the level of community within the congregation,” he wrote. “I am so happy that we have forward thinking churches like Broadmoor Baptist, ready to serve their people and to inspire other congregations.”