HowTo: build a prayer request broadcast group using Twitter and why.

31 07 2009

Twitter can be a great prayer tool!

Twitter can be a great prayer tool!

Prayer is a mandate of ministry!

For years we’ve had things like prayer lists and prayer chains, but recently I’ve noticed a break down in our prayer chain at church. The idea is simple someone calls me with a prayer request, and I call the next person on the list to pass it on. They in turn call the next person and so on. The problem is that we end up playing the “Telephone Game” and the message the last person gets is rarely what the first person passed on. Other problems occur when people are unavailable to take a call so you have to call multiple people before you get the next person. This is frustrating and time consuming. It is just not possible for many people to participate because they are not allowed to be on the phone that much during work hours. It is also very tedious to take notes and then call then next person when you are in a car, or out running errands. Consequently many people get inaccurate information, or don’t get the information at all. Our prayer force is diminished and prayers are hindered!

How Social Media Can Help

With the social media tools we have now; it is very simple to communicate our message to a large group of people. I’ve setup a facebook group, but since I can’t send bulk messages from my phone in a quick and easy way it is not the best tool. Email is another option, but many people don’t check their email for weeks and would miss that critical window where someone needs prayer. That’s why I’ve finally settled on Twitter. Twitter allows me to setup a private list of people that can receive short prayer updates. They are protected so only those I approve can see them. This is important because prayer requests are often of a sensitive and confidential nature. It also alerts people by instant SMS Text messages. Hopefully you see the benefits of using Twitter. So how do you get started?

How do I set this up?

1. Create an account for you prayer group Go to http://twitter.com give it a short descriptive name. Mine is “CBCPRAY” it stands for Calvary Baptist Church Pray. You want it to be short because people will be typing this in their phone at least initially.

Be Sure to fill out all the fields!

Be Sure to fill out all the fields!

Click the picture to go change this setting.Check the box to protect your updates.

Check the box to protect your updates.

2. If you have a smart phone: get a twitter client. For ministry purposes I recommend TweetCaster because it allows you to manage multiple accounts with one program. TweetCaster is for BlackBerry Smart phones so if you have another smart phone then a Google search is sure to turn up a suitable twitter client for your device. If you are using a different program leave a comment with a link if you would to help others out. 3. If you are on a regular old cell phone: Once you’re logged into twitter Click on settings, then the devices tab

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Click the picture below to change this settingFill in your cellphone number, check the box, and click Save.

Fill in your cellphone number, check the box, and click Save.

TXT the green code to 40404 from your phone.

TXT the green code to 40404 from your phone.

Be sure you do not have a “signature” attached to your txt messages or when you txt your confirmation code it will not work. Once you txt your confirmation code you will be presented with device options. You should receive a confirmation email saying:

Twitter has verified your device and sms alerts are enabled. Std msg charges apply. Send ‘off’ to silence or ‘stop’ to quit. Send ‘help’ for more.

Save 40404 in your contacts as “Twitter” to make it easier to send messages. 4. Get your prayer chain to “Follow” you! To setup your prayer chain people to receive updates is much simpler. It only requires 3 Steps.

  1. Have them TXT “Join” to 40404
  2. It will respond asking for their name. TXT their name back to 40404 when requested. This will be used as their Twitter Handle.
  3. TXT “Follow YourTwitterHandle” (replace with your actual twitter handle you setup in step 1) Be sure there is a space between follow and the twitter name.

5. Your final task is to Approve people as they request to follow. If you don’t approve them they will not be able to receive updates provided you made the twitter account “protected” as shown in step 1

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Click the picture below to approve people.Only approve people that you know and you want to receive prayer requests.

Only approve people that you know and you want to receive prayer requests.

You are now ready to Send out Prayer Requests!

Now to send a prayer update you just have to send a txt to your “Twitter” contact and everyone who is “following” you and has been approved will receive the request. You must keep your updates 140 characters or less. It will cut off your message or make it unreadable if you go over 140 characters. Follow back the people that are following you so if they reply you will see their response. I hope this helps you and your ministry! If you found this useful, have any questions, or want to add or correct something please leave a comment.





Sometimes 140 is just not enough

31 07 2009

OK, So I’m a complete twitter addict, and most of the time I just “micro blog”. However 140 characters is just not enough for me to say what needs said on occasion. So here goes another blog. I say another because I #failed miserably at blogging before. Maybe I’ll have more success this time. We shall see. . .