Text Messaging Polls in Church?

At Catalyst last year, they did some really cool surveys during the break using SMS (text messaging). They would put questions on the screen and then have everyone text in their answers. A few weeks ago, I read a blog post that showed how you could do the same thing using a free web service called Poll Everywhere. I have a passion for helping smaller and more rural churches use technology to connect to their people, so I started checking on how this could be used. Since most adults don’t do a lot of texting yet, at least in our area, I thought this would be a perfect fit to use in our new Saturday night young adult service. Here are a few ways that you could use this in ministry

  • You could do surveys, polls, or trivia while people are coming in
  • You could have people text in questions during the sermon that you could answer in a Q&A time at the end
  • You could incorporate the questions and the survey results into your sermon

The last idea is what we did at Cornerstone this week. I started a new series titled “txt” focusing on the Bible text and how it can impact our lives today. Just like a text message, it is personal, relevant, and current. I used free graphics from Lifechurch.tv, and then built a sermon around the importance of God’s Word. I then used used a simple survey asking “How many Bibles do you have at home?” During my message I referred back to the survey. It was a great way to engage and get people involved into the message. During this series I plan on having a different poll each week.

Poll Everywhere is free for smaller audiences. If you want to poll larger audiences, then it can get expensive pretty quickly. Their website has all the info on how to use their service. I was able to take the survey and embed it into a powerpoint presentation that updated automatically every time a vote came in. It does require internet access. Unfortunately, the school we meet at has a policy against allowing any outside computers to connect to their network. To get on the internet, we used a program called PDAnet to connect my cell phone which has internet access to my laptop. It worked pretty slick, and it was fast enough to update the poll in real time.

Here is the poll from church this week. I expect even more people to participate next week now that they understand how this works. You can still text in your vote, or you can vote on the web here. This is just another way to use technology to really engage your congregation and make the service more participatory. I am always looking for ways to move people from spectator to participator.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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3 Responses

  1. Lori Bailey says:

    Very cool idea, Mike! Nice work taking the txt series to the next level.

  2. Dana Hanna says:

    Check out http://www.v5v5.org for live polling. I developed it for Church use and is 100% free/unlmtd. Let me know if u want improvements!

  3. David says:

    This is just what we were looking for. Thanks!

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