Twitter is an amazing, FREE, way to send text message announcements to your youth group. I got the idea and instructions from ChurchyMedia, but I wanted to write it out in a little more detail for some of my less technologically inclined friends.
1) Register a twitter account (ex: wpyouth)
2) Have students text "follow account" to 40404 (ex "follow wpyouth")
3) They text back their name, and boom, they will receive updates.
4) They can send "stop" to 40404 if they want to stop receiving updates.
1) Go to www.twitter.com and get a twitter account started. Ours is "wpyouth" (twitter.com/wpyouth)
2) Once your account is set up, have anyone that wants to subscribe to text message updates text "follow account" to number 40404 where account is your account name (ex: "follow wpyouth")
NOTE: They must remove signatures, any other characters in their text message will screw it up. Also, I believe the message has to be all lowercase. I just offer these pointers from the troubles I have had with getting my students signed up.
3) They will then be asked to send their name, and boom, they are following you. Now when you update that twitter it will send a text message to all your cell phone followers!
4) For those who do not want to receive text messages, they can still keep up with announcements by going to the twitter webpage. (ex: www.twitter.com/wpyouth).
5) If at anytime they want to stop getting the updates, all they have to do is send "stop" to 40404.
6) For those of you that have a personal twitter account as well, I reccomend the Twitterfox add-on for your browser (I don't know if there are similar add-ons for other browsers. If you know link it in the comments.) With a single click you can switch between accounts (as opposed to having to login and logout all the time.)
This is a great means of communicating with your students. I am still working on getting all my teens signed up and on board. We use this to send announcements to the group, but also to play games. For example, I sent a message "first person to call the church and ask for eddie gets free cookies." Its just a fun way to interact with students.
And of course, you can use this for any ministry or group you organize. Try it out and let me know what you think!