An increasing number of churches nationwide are seeking to utilize new technological advances, such as innovations in voicemail, to increase the connectivity between pastors and their congregations.
While many churches have been utilizing standard answering machines to collect messages for years, some are riding the new wave of virtual voicemail to be more personable and available to the community.
Virtual voicemail allows pastors and their secretaries to check the church voicemail anytime they are away from the office, so that members don’t need to wait until the office reopens to receive a return call. Pastors can listen to church voicemail at home, while on-call serving those in need or while traveling for speaking engagements and missions trips.
“This technology is an effective tool for our congregation. Any of us can work off site as effectively as we can in the office because communications are not missed or lost and messages can be saved for later reference,” stated Pastor Derek Mathers of Church of St. Luke in Ontario, Canada of new technological advances in voicemail. “More importantly, we are able to more timely and efficiently respond to requests from our congregation and our community.”
VoicemailOffice.com, one of the premier providers of new voicemail technology, serving both the United States and Canada, explained how the process works.
“Just like the telephone company, we will assign you a telephone number. Instead of that number ringing a single telephone line at your location, it will ring into our bank of advanced voice processing servers,” the company outlines. “Our voice processing servers will then answer the caller with your personal voicemail system.”
As many call their pastor in emergency situations, such as when a member is hospitalized or needs crisis counseling, innovations in local voicemail are helping congregations to obtain help faster with shorter wait times. Some services also provide text notification so that pastors can receive instant notice of an incoming call.
“An after-hours voice mailbox is available to notify the 24/7 pastor in the event of an emergency,” cites Crossroads Christian Church in Newburgh, Indiana.
While in the past voicemail was stored on the office answering machine and could not be duplicated, technology now allows for voicemail to be emailed to the pastor or receptionist, who can forward or copy the message to another staff member. Therefore, multiple church leaders can receive the same message to keep informed of important matters.
Churches are now also utilizing voicemail for information lines, where members can call to learn about scheduled services, church projects or to listen to an uplifting message. Churches see this use of their phone lines as a way to connect with the community and provide valuable information in a personable manner.
Pastor Matthew Perry of Boone’s Creek Baptist Church wrote in an online blog how he had learned about the importance of keeping his voicemail personable, so as to present his church as being “a close knit Christian family.”
“Kevin and Julie joined our church this past Sunday,” he explained. “Most other churches’ answering machine messages would simply say, ‘… Our offices are closed. Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you.’ … But in this instance, they felt that [our] church was friendly, cared about them, and truly wanted them to join them for worship.”
Transcription technologies are also up-and-coming in the world of voicemail and may additionally be useful to pastors and other church leaders, but are still being perfected.