Advance – Fall 2016
Need Him Global has a long history of meeting young people in creative ways to engage in live conversation about Jesus Christ. As this generation continues to adopt new technologies faster than anyone ever imagined, we must be ready to incorporate different options and utilize the technology they are most comfortable using. We know the number of text messages vastly exceeds the number of phone calls and we see that 18-24 year olds now average over 1400 text messages a month. A recent study found that those under 35 years old check their phone on average every ten minutes and never have it at more than arm’s length away during the entire day. In other words, the world has moved to mobile and to texting and it does not matter what the topic is. In fact, one recent study even showed that 6 in 10 adults under the age of 50 say it is ok to break up a serious relationship over text.
Since we know text messaging continues to grow, and we want to lower or remove the hurdles to connecting with us, we have been trying to acquire a short code. This is essentially an abbreviated phone number used to make texting even easier. You will often see these on tv shows where the audience votes and you text your vote to a five-digit code. The short code we have been pursuing is 53787 which also spells JESUS. We like the directness and the simplicity so people will remember how to text us.
We finally acquired this number in August. We can use it anywhere a phone number would normally be offered for text messaging purposes. One of the first initiatives we will be using it is with the Christian artist Jeremy Camp and his I Will Follow 2016 concert tour. Each night a Gospel presentation will be made during the concert and people with questions about what it means to accept Jesus Christ will be encouraged to text JESUS (53787). Those messages will go directly into our response system for our volunteers to answer.
However, an interesting thing happened when we went through the set up process to get all the texts to come into our response system so we would be ready to handle the messages from seekers with questions. We immediately saw a large volume of text messages coming from random people that are already reaching out to God through texting their frustrations, thoughts and prayers to JESUS on their mobile phones. We are now engaging over 1000 people each month that are randomly looking for God through sending text messages to JESUS on their mobile phones.
We are not advertising or paying anything to generate this traffic beyond the cost to lease the short code number each month. These conversations are a blessing but also a somewhat sad indication that so many people are reaching out to God through their mobile phones not knowing who Jesus really is or how much He loves them. This is another reminder that if we fail to deliver the message of truth and hope then technology and culture will offer something else. We are excited about this new number and will continue to search for more opportunities to easily connect with people so we can share the Gospel and combat the false messages and relationships filling the void.