29 June 2010
Google Voice: A Godsend for Pastors
"Should I give my cell phone number to parishioners?"
This a common question among pastors, who need to be available to their members (particularly in case of pastoral emergencies), but who also fear that if they give out their cell phone number, they will get called on their off days for non-urgent matters (and they will). It's one of many pastoral/personal boundaries pastors have to manage.
A new free service from Google made available to the public this week is a great solution to this pastoral quandary. It's called Google Voice and I've just started using it. Here's a quick overview:
Here's how to get started. Go to Google Voice. (Create a Google account if you don't already have one.) Once you have an account, Google will ask you to create a Google phone number. When you've got your number, scroll to the top right of the page and click "Settings". There you will find a few cool options.
- Under "Phones" - you can set your Google phone number to forward calls to any other phone number - home, office, or cell - or all three. ·It's your choice and you can change it at any time.
- Under "Voicemail and Text" - You can record a voicemail greeting for your Google number. ·When someone leaves a message, Google transcribes it and will send it to you as an email or text message or both.
- Under "Groups" - if you import your contact list into Google, you can specify how different contacts can reach you. ·Have co-worker calls forward to your office phone. ·Have family calls forward to your cell phone. ·Screen other calls and get a text or email from Google with their transcribed voicemail message.
I hope you are already seeing some of·Google Voice's potential. ·It allows you to be available to parishioners in need without giving away your personal cell phone number. ·It also allows you to set limits (boundaries) on who, how and when people reach you by phone. ·It's almost like a free automated answering service. ·Also, now people only need to remember one phone number for you instead of three or more.
I love·Google Voice, and I'm sure I'll find more uses for it, but this is how I'm using it right now. ·On my voicemail greeting at church, I tell people to call my Google number in case of emergency. ·I've set up·Google Voice so that their call to my Google number forwards to my cell phone. ·If I don't want it to ring my cell phone, I can choose to let people leave a voicemail message and Google will immediately text and/or email me their transcribed message. ·I can call them right back.
Like anything, the best way to see if this works for you is to jump in and play around with it, but choose your Google phone number carefully. ·You can change it later, but there is a $10 fee to do so.
Let me know what you think and how you're using·Google Voice in your ministry.