SMS/MMS messaging... churches and related activities


The use of technology in religious services and related activities has evolved from simple sound systems to sophisticated audio-visual systems, projection video, broadcasting, and web streaming. Churches can increase congregation membership and involvement by applying new technological trends to worship services and other church-related events.

The most important new trend in communications -- even more pervasive than the Internet -- is cellular technology. More than 5 out of every 6 Americans over the age of nine has a cellphone. By using the text messaging capabilities in every cellphone, churches can reach out and communicate directly with their members -- and potential members).

There are two main ways to do this:

  • During church events and meetings, you can receive text messages and display them on projection video screens. These give the congregation a way to interact without directly interrupting the main flow of the event. You can even do this in contemporary or informal church services, especially youth-oriented ones. (Young people love to text with friends -- now they can do it with the Lord!)

  • You can send messages, including biblical and inspirational citations or congregational alerts, to a group or an individual. This unique feature provides religious leaders with a level of connectivity and support that was previously unavailable outside of traditional church services. Ultimately, this has the potential to strengthen the religious bond of tight-knit communities, and encourage a stream of continuous communication between its members.

Here are more details about how sending, receiving and displaying text messages works -- and how it can benefit your church.

How it works: Receiving and displaying

Pangolin's Interactive Messaging Unlimited is a sophisticated Windows computer program that can send and receive text (SMS) and picture (MMS) messages. The computer is connected to a celluar modem, which is included free with IMU. The modem has a unique cellphone number. Any text or picture message sent to that number comes into the IMU system and is queued for display. Filters can be applied, automatically or manually, so that only clean, approved messages are displayed.

Now, normally text messages are sent phone-to-phone. What makes IMU unique is that the messages can be displayed in public, in any type of video display including projection video, broadcast and cable TV, webstreams. By utilizing cellular technology in this new way, IMU can add a new dimension to religious communications at meetings, conferences, and social events.

Common uses for IMU include Q&A sessions during meetings, alerts of changes to schedule or room assignments at conferences, and posting of public messages during concerts and other performance events. IMU increases audience interaction by allowing people at events to "chat" visually via TV monitors, projection video, or other video displays. It can also enable hearing- or speech-impaired people to participate in religious services and social events.

How it works: Sending

Ministers have grown increasingly reliant on innovative technology to extend the reach of their message to new and larger audiences. Now, cellular technology gives churches new ways to enhance communications with congregants.



In addition to receiving text and picture messages, IMU can also send them. Messages can be sent individually ("I'm glad your mother is out of the hospital") or to a group ("Youth services start 1 hour earlier, at 5 pm next week"). You can set up different groups; for example, all members, youth only, church board members, etc. Since just about everyone has a cellphone, you're ensured that recipients get the message reliably and in just a few minutes after sending.

The messages can be informational: "Fellowship meeting tonight at 7 pm". They can be inspirational, such as a Bible Verse of the Day. They can be comforting, such as a daily prayer list: "Please pray for Martha McCormick and Eileen & Ted Simpson".

Connect with youth via "texting"

IMU has the potential to connect with younger people who rely heavily on cell "texting" as a means of communication. By incorporating this cutting-edge software in suitable religious settings, leaders have the potential to actively engage their younger audience and help influence them positively outside of traditional church settings and methods. Inspirational messages can provide timely advice and reassurance to people in need of spiritual support.

Display over in-house video or cable channels

The IMU software handles the receiving and processing of incoming messages, while the actual display of those messages is carried out by an SMS text display program called Video Messaging Unlimited. The VMU software arranges the approved messages and outputs them to a video feed. Therefore, pastors with TV programs or  cable channels can use IMU as a way to create live "chats" where viewers can converse - in text - with other viewers.

The software provides tools for quickly creating professional looking video backgrounds and display screens on which various elements such as scrolling text, streaming video, live feeds, and static or animated graphics can all run simultaneously on-screen without overlapping or interfering with on-going chats.

For example, moderators can have a set topic such as a verse from the Bible displayed in one section of the screen. A second section can display a streaming video, while a third section shows the incoming responses from viewers partaking in the live chat.

Inclusion for all

It has been suggested that the IMU system can be incorporated into church services as a means to connect with hearing- or speech-impaired parishioners. By using IMU's video display capabilities, sermons could be shown in a "closed-caption-like" manner, which would allow for a greater involvement during traditional services.

At points in the sermon where audience participation is desired, hearing- or speech- impaired members could text questions to the pastor or Bible study teacher. The IMU system offers more options in communication when it comes to enjoyment and participation of conventional church activities for all of its members.

Easy to set up and use

One of the best things about Pangolin's Interactive Messaging system is that anyone can set it up and use it. You probably already have staffers who would enjoy working with this easy-to-use technology. All you need is a Windows-based computer.

For display, you can use video monitors or projections, as well as standard laser graphics projectors.

For more information

To find out more about how the technology works, see our pages about the IMU message handling software, and the VMU video display software. For additional information on Pangolin's SMS text messaging system, e-mail, fax or call us.


Note: We recommend getting prior approval when sending periodic group messages. This ensures the messages are desired and not seen as "spam". Fortunately, obtaining the prior approval can be very easy -- send a one-time only text message allowing the recipient to "opt-in" to the church's text message contact list.


A World Leader in Laser and SMS Display Software
9501 Satellite Boulevard, Suite 109, Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 299-2088, fax (407) 299-6066