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How a Chatbot Can SERVE Your Church

In Nashville, TN, Cross Point Church used a church chatbot provided by their online giving partner, OnlineGiving.org, to address a challenge that every church faces. How do you get people from just attending your weekend services to plugging in and serving on a ministry team? The next challenge you face is how you connect a potential volunteer with the correct church staff person.

The Volunteer Challenge

Ask any church leader to list their most significant ministry challenges. Close to the top of that list would be assimilating new volunteers. Every church, from the smallest to the largest, has this issue. Getting your members to volunteer for ministry service is essential to keep ministries functioning and growing. Another often unheralded result of volunteerism is a higher retention rate for those members who are active volunteers. If a church can solve the volunteer problem, they also help close the backdoor of members leaving.
To tackle the volunteer challenge, churches typically have special services or events throughout the year, focusing on the importance of serving and the need for volunteers. Volunteer Sundays, ministry fairs, special announcements from the platform, mass emails, etc. are often employed to increase the awareness of the need for service. Most strategies require a lot of time for both the potential volunteer and the church staff. You would have to go by a table or booth and fill out some interest card. From there, the church staff would have to filter and sort these cards and then distribute them to the correct staff member for follow up.
Chris Hensley, the Database Specialist for Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, had an idea of addressing these challenges. What if they made the whole process easier for both the volunteer and the staff? What if they allowed their members to use their smartphones? Chris found his answer through the Online Giving platform.

The Volunteer Solution

Chris began developing the answer to Cross Point’s volunteer problem through OG’s Chatbot feature. A chatbot is a text-based tool that allows quick responses with members and guests for things like salvation responses, event registrations, baptism sign-up, connection cards, and much more.
It was as easy as texting the word SERVE to the church that triggered the chatbot into action. After gathering their name and contact information, they then chose which ministry opportunity they felt led to consider. Each chatbot response was then automatically assigned to the staff member responsible for that ministry through their church management software. This seamless process allowed a staff member from each campus to respond with a personal message offering more information on how that person could serve. Can you imagine as a staff member getting several inquiries into how people could support your area of ministry?

The Story Behind Chatbot

In a telephone interview, I asked Chris the background behind the story. “We had recently used the chatbot feature that allows someone to let us know when they accepted Christ by simply texting in the word, LIFE. That worked so well we began to think of how to use the Chatbot feature in other areas. Could we make it easier for people to sign-up to serve?”
Here is what Chris said about the process, “We wanted something easy for our members, but also easy for our staff. With multiple campuses, though, this was a challenge. How do we get the information from the new potential volunteer to the right staff member on the right campus?”
At that point, Chris reached out to the support team at OnlineGiving.org. Chris said, “They were amazing! The level of support we received was off the charts! OnlineGiving’s customer service has always been great for us, but this was above and beyond.”

The OnlineGiving.Org Experience

When asked about the results thus far, Chris said, “It’s been amazing. We had over one hundred responses, and they are still coming in as we have now moved the process onto our social media platforms. This whole process has gone so well we have decided to do it multiple times a year. We are now thinking about what other ways we can utilize the chatbot feature.”
Chris summed up the experience by saying, “Instead of just filling a need for us, we wanted to help people step into finding their purpose within the church body. That sense of purpose will help keep people connected, which in turn will help sustain their involvement with us.” Cross Point’s use of the chatbot feature has helped people to start finding their purpose within the church body.
Charles Fox, Customer Experience Specialist, for OnlineGiving.org had this to say, “As a former pastor, I loved seeing people begin serving in the church. Not just because our churches “need” volunteers to operate, but because I believe that is the first step in creating a culture of generosity. Most people will give their time before they give of their resources. Because of this, volunteering is a huge marker in the spiritual maturation process.”
Fox further stated, “Cross Point Church using the chatbot to onboard new volunteers is a unique and creative way to start the generosity process within their church. OnlineGiving.org is more than just a digital giving page; it’s a resource for our churches to create a culture of generosity.”

Why the OnlineGiving.org

I hear similar stories of innovation from OnlineGiving.org clients. In my over ten years in the online giving industry, I have never seen a company with a more robust platform than OnlineGiving.org. Not only is their support of day to day operations stellar, but their creative genius aides in the development of creative ideas like taking on the volunteer challenge.
Does your online platform meet that need for your church? Contact my friends at OnlineGiving.org at 615-206-4000 or drop them a line at support@onlinegiving.org to find out how their platform can help you solve your problems from giving to serving.

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