Connection is key.
We love follow-up. We love member engagement. We love seeing churches grow and thrive. We love saving pastors time. BUT, none of this can happen if people file in and out of our doors every week without any “buy in.” We can’t force guests to leave us their information or text our welcome number, but we can make it as convenient and preferential as possible.
So, how is it done?
Church connection cards! And, in this post, we will be equipping you with 3 different ways to effectively gather visitors’ contact information.
But before we dive in, I wanted to share a post with you that I ran across the other day. An excerpt from it really struck me:
“As soon as people raise their hands to say, “I am here,” they’ve moved a step closer to community. They go from being part of the invisible mass to signaling that they would like to make a deeper connection. We live in an age where people don’t freely give out their contact information, so ensure that you are ready to receive their intention well! To make this step as clear and obvious as possible needs to be a prime concern for your church and your leadership.” (Rich Birch, Unseminary (8 Phases of Moving Guests from Anonymity to Community at Your Church)
Each church is going to engage their guests differently. What we can all agree on, however, is that it’s critical to do so. Church becomes very void of meaning if it neglects the world outside its walls. When an individual or family takes the first step to visit your church, it is key that you respond. We get pretty excited about our passions of follow-up and engagement, but neither of these can be done if you don’t have the initial “buy in” from people.
Enter, the Church Connection Card.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the little sheet of paper in the pew back that you can fill out and slip into the offering tray. Or maybe it’s the little book that’s passed around throughout the service for guests and members alike to sign in. Churches have been collecting visitors’ information for decades. What we’ve done is add variety and accessibility.
So, at this point, I’m guessing plenty of you are thinking “we already do this,” “I’m not getting people to provide their information, and we’ve even switched it all over to online.” We know this can be frustrating, and we are here to help! Below, we have laid out for you 3 different solid church connection card formats.
Why? Because everyone has a preference, and, if their preference is not offered, there is a good chance they will pass. For example, when my husband and I go shopping and are asked for an email address when we check out, he always declines and I always give mine out. He doesn’t want the “junk mail” and I’m always open to coupons and insider deals. Conversely, though, if asked to provide a phone number on a website or at a store, I will always decline and he always gives his. It’s a preference thing!
The key is, there’s no wrong way to do this unless you’re only doing it one way. You read that right, one way is the only wrong way. Not offering multiple ways for your guests to connect with you will likely keep them from doing so.
There are, in fact, multiple options when it comes to your church’s connect cards. Here are the 3 we find most effective...
1. The Original Paper Connection Card
There are a lot of places to get connection card templates that you can download, edit, and print you. But, in any case, wherever you access your paper connection card, we recommend having these available at the Welcome Center, in the pew backs, or maybe even in the bulletin. If you give a gift to first time guests, stick it in there! Get creative.
The second option for gathering your visitors’ information is something we are super proud of here at Text in Church…
2. The Digital Connection Card
This is a form that requests just a small amount of information (don’t worry, more on that later) that can be displayed in multiple places throughout the church. For example, you could have a tablet at the Welcome Center with the Digital Connection Card on it. You could have greeters with tablets that have the Digital Connection Card on them so if they connect well with a guest they don’t have to pass them off to someone else.
The best part about this method - I know, hard to believe it gets better than that- is that once the guest enters his/her information into the Digital Connection Card, it is added to your Text in Church group to receive 6 weeks worth of follow-up. Mind. Blown.
Want to get more advanced? Add this digital connection card to your website to allow guests to Plan A Visit.
Last, but definitely not least, we have option 3…
3. Text to Connect
This is an option where you can put a script that says something to the effect of “If you’re a guest, we are SO thrilled to have you! Text “welcome” to xxx-xxx-xxxx and we will get connected with you” on your screen or in your bulletin (again, you’re the pro here on where this should go). Another great way to introduce this option is to include it in your welcome speech.
The welcome speech is a natural way to introduce any of these three options. Having multiple options for gathering information is key, but make sure you spend time refining your welcome speech so you can present their options in a clear and concise way. Never underestimate the power of a well thought out welcome speech. Plus it’s the perfect place to either encourage them to pull out the paper connect cards or pull out their cell phone to text a keyword.
Those are three of the best ways to gather people’s information… but the truth is, connection cards can be used for so much more than just guests. Plus, gathering their information is just the start. Once you have it, that’s where the power to effectively connect your community comes in.
For example, check out these 5 ways from our Text Messaging Playbook you can use Text to Connect to provide a place for your people to get plugged in throughout your church…
People can text VOLUNTEER to sign up to serve. This will allow you to organize and send messages to people based on their volunteer role.
"Thanks for volunteering to help in the nursery! Stay tuned for the updated schedule."
Event RSVP & Check-In
Collect information from people who come to your events. Not only are church outreach events a great place to make people feel loved, but it is also the perfect place to start a relationship and invite them to join you for worship (And let’s not forget about how it helps all the logistics come together).
"Thanks for your RSVP to the Fall Festival at City Church! How many will be attending with you?"
"Don't forget the Fall Festival is tomorrow starting at 5pm. Lots of family fun and great food. See you there!"
Send/Receive Prayer Requests
You can give the option for people to text PRAY to receive a link to share a prayer request. You can also use text or email to send prayer requests out to members or other relevant groups.
"Thanks for sharing your prayer request. We will add it to our list and the Prayer team will be faithfully praying"
Ministry Area Sign-Ups
Have a list of all the ministry areas available for people to get plugged in to with a corresponding keyword. For example:
Text WOMEN to join the women’s ministry
Text KIDS to join the children’s ministry
Text MUSIC to join the worship ministry
Here’s some powerful sample messages to send:
1. "Thanks for signing up for the Missions team at City Church! We will keep you updated!"
2. "Don't forget that the Women in Motion group meets tomorrow at 7pm in Classroom 1A. Hope to see you there!"
Youth Group Updates
Parents can text YOUTH and receive updates on what their kids are learning on Wednesday nights, questions they can ask to start healthy conversations in their home, events, and reminders, etc.
"This week in youth group we talked about the 10 Commandments. Ask your child about the life applications we talked about from the lesson!"
"Don't forget, the last day to sign up for the summer mission trip is Friday. We hope your child can join us! www.citychurch.com/youthmission"
Make sure to check out our Text In Church Playbook for all 10 Text to Connect plays. And let this inspire you to really hone in on presenting your variety of church connection cards in a clear and effective way. It opens doors to all kinds of awesome communication!
One final tip, remember that less is more. In terms of the information you are asking for, that is. If people are just visiting your church for the first time, they are not going to be too keen on giving you all of their personal information So, keep it simple. Name, email, phone. Kids’ names/ages, address, etc. can be gathered later, when there is more trust and they are a little more “bought-in” so to speak.
So, to wrap up, remember: everyone has a preference. And, if their preference is not offered, there is a high likelihood they will pass. We have presented 3 solid church connection card options:
1. The Original Paper Connection Card: a printed paper card for people to fill out and return to you. Great to have at the Welcome Center, in a gift, etc.
2. The Digital Connection Card: a digital copy of your connection card on a tablet that can be filled out at the Welcome Center, at an event, when they drop kids off at nursery, etc.
3. Text to Connect: a keyword for first-time guests to text to get plugged into your follow up system for 6 weeks!!
Remember to be creative. You know your church, members, and community. Engage people when and where you can, but just make sure there are options.