in ministry. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I smiled and nodded.
Turns out they’re awesome. I wish I had listened to him sooner.
Consider the case of Dick Schroeder. He speaks at retreats and frequently prays with people to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Over the years, he has put together a series of emails that he sends to people afterwards to coach them from a distance.
One day he asked me if there was a way to automate the process. My mind flashed back to Scott’s enthusiasm for these autoresponder things, so I downloaded a free PHP script called Infinite Responder
and set up http://chialpha.com/resources/holyspirit.
Now if someone signs up, they begin receiving coaching emails from Dick once a week. Since the messages appear to come from his email address, students can just hit “reply” and ask Dick about anything they found confusing or that they need special advice about. It’s very low-maintenance for him, and Chi Alpha students nationwide get a year’s worth of Dick’s expertise.
Since rolling this out at the World Missions Summit (Jan 1st), we’ve had just over 200 people subscribe to these updates. That works out to about 7 signups a day. I have no idea where the total will cap out, but momentum is building and I don’t even feel that the resource has been thoroughly publicized yet.
Things I like about the tool:
- Low-tech. geronimo download
It’s just email. No one has to install a special plugin, put headphones in their computer, or have some insanely fast connection.
- Personal. The emails come from an actual human being to whom you can respond.
- Low-maintenance. Once the email is in the database, it’s just there. Neither Dick nor I need to do anything special to send them out. And Dick only gets replies from people who have specific questions, which is only a fraction of the people who receive any given email.
Pretty cool, eh?
Lately I’ve been wondering what other opportunities are out there. Some ideas that I’ve had:
- Emails for new believers
- A “40 days” type campaign for Chi Alpha with daily emails where each campus that chooses to participate picks its own start and stop times and the script takes care of all those details.
- A first two weeks of school devotional to get students fired up when they return from summer break
- Coaching emails for people who are called to ministry
- Monthly emails for Chi Alpha grads to help them make the transition out of college gracefully
- A term’s worth of weekly emails for people pioneering new Chi Alpha ministries
It’s just a matter of finding a person with the right expertise and hooking them up. So if you’ve got an idea, I’d love to hear about it. I’d especially love to hear if you’re a Chi Alpha leader who has content ready to go. I can just run it past Dennis and get that stuff online faster than you can imagine. 😉