note: this is an excerpt from the book: Connection Cards, connect with visitors, grow your church, pastor your people
#3 Don’t tell people about connection cards without giving them time to fill them out.
This is probably the single biggest reason churches do not get connection cards turned in. In most churches, either the pastor or another church leader will mention the connection card very quickly in passing, often when people are still standing up after singing a song. Sometimes it will be mentioned when people are sitting down, but often then it is part of a long series of announcements and no time is given so people can actually fill it out.
The problem with this approach is that a visitor or church member, if they want to respond or turn in a prayer request, has to then decide when to quit paying attention to what is going on up front so they can fill out the card.
- Do you want them to ignore part of the sermon?
- Write during the prayer time?
- Stay seated and scribble while an upbeat praise song is being sung?
- Hold the elements with one hand and write with the other during communion?
Something has to be ignored while they read a card with which they are unfamiliar and fill it out.
Better idea: after telling people about the card; pause, play a few bars of music and give them time to actually fill it out. More detail on this process later.
#4 Don’t tell people to take the connection cards to the visitor center to get a gift from the church
You might have a wonderful gift and fantastic people at your visitor center, but your response rate will be much less if people have to take extra steps or actions to get to where you want them to take a card, simply because a large number of people may forget or not be able to go there.
For example, if you are a visitor who has children to pick up from their first time in the nursery; if you are depressed and don’t want to talk to anyone; if the idea of a CD of a message by the pastor isn’t their idea of a gift they are interested in, or even if the person is simply really hungry and can’t wait to get to brunch, there are all sorts of reasons why taking a connection card to a visitor center might not happen.
Better idea: pick the communication cards up as part of the offering. An extra benefit of this process is that visitors have something to put into the offering plate other than money, which is an added incentive to turn in their information.
#5 Don’t take them up prior to hearing the message
One of the purposes of connection cards is for the church to find out how people respond to the sermon. If the sermon contains a challenge to serious life changes, an invitation to respond to personal salvation, a challenge to holy living or repentance, a call to sign up for small groups, or some spiritual growth program, the pastor needs to know if there is a response and the church staff needs to respond to the decision made for it to be more than a momentary emotional response.
The connection card is one of the best ways to make this connection particularly in many churches where a call to “come forward” may make some people so uncomfortable it obscures the spiritual decision that needs to be made.
In the cards that I have looked at, I know many churches recognize this and have places where people can check statements such as:
___I trusted Jesus for my personal salvation today.
___I rededicated my life to Christ today.
___I commit to begin the Bible reading program with the church.
___I want to be part of a small group.
These are important responses for the church to know about, so an appropriate response back to them, confirming their commitment and telling the person what to do next can be made. Sadly, in looking at the order of service listed in many bulletins I have found some churches take up the cards during the offering BEFORE the sermon has been preached. I know the stress of working in a church office can be overwhelming and that we sometimes don’t take time to read through and think about what we print, but to ask people to respond to challenges, write it down, and turn in the information BEFORE they hear the sermon, doesn’t not give them the opportunity to make an informed decision.
Better idea: move the taking up of the offering until after the sermon, so people have time to hear the message and challenge, to think about it, and let the church know of a well-thought out decision.
What not to worry about
In the previous listing of what not to do, you probably noticed that none of the things not to do had anything to do with how the card looked, the layout, the typeface, or graphics. Though these are important issues (we don’t want something ugly or unreadable) how a card looks is more about the style and look of your church than it is a factor it the effectiveness of its use. In addition, many ideas and tips for the layout and production of connection cards will be given in the Gallery section of this book.
What is more important, no matter the specific look of the card, is how you use it, which the next section will discuss in detail.
.......for more read the rest of the book:
This 8 1/2 x 11 book connection cards has 111 pages of instruction, samples and detailed how tos. It is FREE for ECC Members and can be bought for immediate download. CLICK HERE to go to it. To go to the Kindle and paperback versions, CLICK HERE.