In a few weeks were holding 7 Christmas Eve services. Due to platform designs, media we’re displaying on the screens and other issues, we’re not able to page parents the way we normally do, which is flashing their unique alpha-numeric code on the top or bottom of the main screen. The programing team has asked that we look into using text messaging on cell phones as an option and I said,”absolutely!” Although there could be the 1 or 2 parents who don’t have a cell phone, but I guess I’m banking on that not being an issue. Who doesn’t have a cell phone now days.
This brings up a good point though. There are some Sunday’s where because of special media or a unique set, our paging system didn’t work. We need aÂ permanentÂ fix. One is to have those LED signs installed where I can send pages from the kids building to display independently of the production team. The other option would be to just send text messages through cell phones.
Here’s what I’m thinking of the LED sign. It will cost two to four thousand dollars total to purchase and install. It will be very visible and parents on’t miss it. I also like that the control ofÂ displayingÂ the page is in the hands of my staff. However, if that parent is in a meeting or volunteering, the LED doesn’t help.
When it comes to sending texts to cell phones, it costs virtually nothing and is probably the least distracting of all options. The downside is that it will require training parents to keep their cell phone available where they’ll feel the vibrate if we need to get a hold of them. The other negative is that there could be the occasional family that doesn’t have a cell with them.
So, what do you think? Has anyone out there gone to a full cell texting plan for paging parents? If so, do you use a service to text the parents or do you just use your own phone?
I’m really leaning toward the texting. We’ll need to go through and make sure we have accurate cell phone numbers of all our parents. Also, we’ll need to “train” our parents to keep their phones accessible. I figure that worst case scenario, we could have 4-6 pagers on hand (we could get a used system off ebay or something) for the handful of families that don’t have cell phones. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so any ideas would be helpful.
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Another thought with the text option, is that many systems send the text as an email to the SMS account. Which means that you need text #, as well as carrier information.
Yeah, I’m not going to ask for people’s carriers. We only have to page 6-10 families a Sunday, so I’ll just use a system that literally just send a text… even if we have to pay per text. I was thinking of using a Google Voice number and text from it.
We’ve gone to texting to page parents within the last 6 months. The screens are a last resort back up if they don’t respond to the text and we can’t personally locate them. At this time we do not have any pagers on hand to hand out to parents who don’t have mobile phones, but I don’t believe we’ve actually ever had need to do that.
We found the screens to be too distracting to the service. When you specifically text you don’t have EVERY parent in the room rummaging to find their kids tag to see if it’s them we are trying to reach. The ability to only contact the one parent you need is a BIG plus to texting.
We use the comment line in Fellowship One to enter a parents mobile number so we have quick easy access to it. We have one leader over each area that makes the decision when it is necessary to text a parent and they are the ones who text. It took about a month of communication to educate the new process. We did it verbally to parents at checkin for several weeks and we sent home a sheet with every child explaining the new process a couple of weeks. Overall I’d say we like the new process better than when we used to put the child’s number on the screen.
Hi Rob – We are also transitioning to a text paging system. Would you be willing to share with me the sheet you sent home with the parents explaining the new paging process? 🙂 Tiffany@metrocitychurch.tv
We just moved from LED signs to texting. We use google voice. Works well for us. We put the cell number of the child on their F1 nametag
We don’t do this currently. But I love the idea. I’m gonna start this as well
Check out http://www.agapage.com. Considering this for a mid-week program where parents drop off their kids and don’t remain on campus…
We are a medium sized church. We tried to go to texting, but we ran into an issue. It would require someone to dig up a phone number and phone and dial the 10 digits. We ended up spending the money on a new pager system, so our workers could cross the room and punch in two numbers. Yes, texting is common amongst most people (not all), but in a real emergency, it was much faster to use the old standby pager system.
I wanted to go to texting, but my Nursery workers were the ones who convinced me not too. I encourage you to talk to those people – they are the one’s in the trenches with the crying child. What are their needs and concerns? What is thier experience with reaction times from parents?
After several years of using all pagers they all went home with visitors etc or needed repairs! At that point which was about 2 years ago we started using the texting on the cell phones and it has worked VERY well! We can text what the baby is doing and ask what the parent wants us to do. They can text back and it often saves the parent getting up and having to leave the service. The best thing is that it keeps parents from panicking when the pager goes off or when they see their number flashing! Before we started texting the parent would come rushing to the nursery fearful the baby had an injury and be about to have heart failure. We are going to purchase a few replacement pagers to give to the few visitors that do not bring their cell phones.
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