note: this is an excerpt from the book: Connection Cards, connect with visitors, grow your church, pastor your people
I’ve been teaching church communications for over twenty years and have looked at many communication cards and discussed their use with many church communicators during that time. From my experience, and many years of personally using them in a variety of church settings, I’ve found the following activities and tools don’t contribute to maximum communication success in getting either initial contact or continuing ministry information from people.
I also realize that, though not the most successful, many of the following practices have been done by many churches for a long time and it is difficult to imagine doing things a different way. If that is your situation, please suspend defensiveness or judgment until you’ve finished this entire publication to see the recommendations that might replace these actions.
Change is always challenging and difficult and if your church does some of the things listed below, I appreciate your willingness to consider alternative ideas. After each suggestion of what not to do, I’ll briefly list the alternative action as “A better idea,” and after this section, the alternative actions will be discussed in more detail.
#1 Don’t use “Friendship Pads/Booklets”
In some churches, much more so in the past than today, the procedure for capturing contact information from visitors and members involves a booklet with lined pages inside that is passed down the pew for people to fill in and then passed back down the pew to be collected by ushers. As it is passed back, the leader often recommends that people “Notice who is a visitor.”
This tends not to work very well for visitors today. There are a number of reasons why, one of the main ones being the current privacy concerns of people. To many, this is simply too public a way to give out personal information.
Perhaps I am more sensitive to this because I work with single adults, but to a ask a single woman who visits your church to write her name, address, phone number, email, and then pass it down a row of strangers, while adding that people make note of new people in the pew beside them—she probably won’t do it. Most likely you don’t have people in your church who will stalk or take advantage of a single woman alone, but the trust level towards the church or strangers, for many people today, men and women, is quite low.
These “Friendship Pads” may have worked well years ago when the world at least seemed to be a safer and more friendly place, but our world has changed. In addition to personal safety issues, privacy concerns and concerns about identity theft cause many visitors to pass them on without filling them out.
A better idea: a card that can be filled out, folded over, and personal information handed in without being made visible to others.
#2 Don’t use a tear-off piece
There are several reasons for this—consider them carefully before discounting my comments, because this method is used in lots of churches and it seems like such a simple and easy way to do things.First of all, if you primarily use connection cards to find out about visitors, keep in mind that study after study shows that visitors do not like to stand out. Being the one person in your row tearing out a piece of paper in an otherwise quiet church service is a rather loud operation and one guaranteed to turn heads in the visitor’s direction. Few people want that to happen.
To avoid that situation, some churches have everyone “tear it off all together.” That seemed like a good solution to me (it’s what is done at the church we now attend) until we brought to church a dear woman who had recently become a believer in her late 60s. As everyone was tearing off their form in church, I was watching her out of the corner of my eye and noticed she was having a rather difficult time grasping the flimsy paper. The arthritis in her hands made it difficult and after several tries, obviously embarrassed, she glanced around and tried to unobtrusively put the bulletin down beside her. Her connection card did not get turned in; no follow-up came from the church, and though she wouldn’t really tell me why, she didn’t want to come there again.
My heart hurt watching her and I thought if it makes one little lady embarrassed, if she can’t communicate to the church her visit, her recent spiritual decision or perhaps a prayer request, perhaps there are better ways to use a connections piece. There are lots of little ladies in our world. People come to know Jesus and visit at church for the first time at many ages and with disabilities of varies types and we don’t want our method of paper handling to get in the way of connecting with them.
A better idea: a separate connection card made of card stock that does not need to be torn out and that is easy to write on. Specifics on how to create the card are discussed later.
.......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.