Hold the phone: 3 impactful telephone ministries

March 8th, 2016

In many respects our lives are now defined by our electronic devices. Whether it be the personal computer, a notepad, television or the latest cell phone — devices have changed the ways we communicate. Likewise, forms of communication have continued to morph as well. Facebook, for many people, has replaced email. Twitter has replaced texting. Blogs have replaced websites.

And new forms of communication are being birthed all the time. No doubt these tools have impacted ministry, and continue to challenge how ministry and communication evolve in our modern world.

But it is also true that the more things change the more they stay the same. Often older forms of communication can have a great impact in ministry because people either forget about them or find them to be stirring or more personable than the latest fads or alternatives.

Consider, for example, the telephone. Here are three simple ideas using the telephone that can have an enormous impact in a texting and twitter world. Simple communication — and voice recognition and relationship — can often impact younger people, especially, in positive ways.

Phone prayer

While it is often difficult to reach people, even those who have reached out for pastoral care, the telephone can still be a connection. While it may be difficult to find a time to meet with a family or individual, the telephone call can be a bridge that makes relationship possible. A simple phone call can be that bridge for prayer and support and many will discover that prayer over the phone can be a powerful pastoral tool.

Instead of trying to create a multitude of meetings each week, keep an accurate database of people’s personal cell phone numbers. Make pastoral calls daily, weekly and at strategic times. Phone prayer can be one of the most powerful tools in the pastoral arsenal today.

The birthday call

For years I have kept a database of birthdays. And even though my congregation is some 2,000 strong now, it is still possible to reach every person with a happy birthday greeting. I begin each day with a list of the birthdays for that day — and then begin by calling those numbers and, if not answered, leaving my personal greeting on voicemail.

These birthday greetings can be personal, poignant, celebratory or even funny. They can also include Scripture verses or reflections. But I cannot doubt the impact these phone calls have had upon my personal and pastoral connections with others. The birthday phone call is a marvelous touch and one that even younger people will appreciate. Few people receive birthday calls now, so a call from the pastor can inspire and awaken connections.

The ‘Missed you’ call

Statistics continue to demonstrate that, after a person has missed several weeks of worship, it is often easy to fall into a pattern of absenteeism. Keeping a record of worship attendance can be an important indicator for involvement. And likewise, making those calls to absentee individuals just to say, “Missed you” can have a lasting effect.

Again, keeping a record of these patterns and making these phone calls each week is not as difficult as it might sound — not even in a large congregation. That is one blessing of the cell phone — calls can be made much faster than writing emails or posting a notice on Facebook. And again, calls can have that personal touch that other electronic forms of communication can lack.

Make it a point to embrace the telephone again and use it in your ministry. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised to discover its power.

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