Despite the wide reports of 40% of people going to church, the actual percentage of regular church attendance is a little less than 18%.
Yet, it’s very common for pastors to see unfamiliar faces on Sunday morning. New people do come to churches, but they don’t seem to come back. While some of them were never going to become regular attendees, some might have returned if they had a good first experience.
One way to help stem the tide of lost opportunities is with church connection cards. The job of the connection card is to gather information from visitors and regular attendees for followup. When they’re designed right, these cards can also leave a good impression on visitors.
Connection cards can be used to help bring people back for second, third, and hopefully many more visits.
They can also help you engage with those who have been attending your church for a longer period of time, enabling you to ask for a greater level of commitment and involvement in your church, such as requesting baptism or volunteering to serve on a ministry team.
Below are 5 simple things to keep in mind when designing your own church connection cards:
1) Keep Your Church Connection Card Simple
Ever go to a website and get a popup that asked for tons of information? Did you fill it out or close the pop-up? Lots of people close them on sight.
Reducing the number of fields can drastically improve response numbers to those pop-ups. So what’s the connection? A church connection card is your in-person version of that website popup.
The Internet has trained people to hand over their first name and email address to strangers. So those are your go-to options for connection cards.
A study by Barna has shown that millennials are very skeptical about handing much information over to churches. Your likelihood of receiving a full name, a physical address, and a phone number is significantly lower than receiving a first name and email address. Sticking to these two form fields is likely to result in more forms being filled out.
Brady Shearer from Pro Church Tools makes the excellent point that if you need more information from a visitor, you can always request it later when your relationship with them has developed. Start by asking for only the most necessary information first.
2) Ask for a Prayer Request
Even if someone comes into your church with deep spiritual pain, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to talk directly to anyone about it yet. Even regular attendees may feel uncomfortable sharing prayer requests in person.
Consider creating a connection card for prayer requests. Put a space at the bottom of that card designated for those requests. This accomplishes two important goals.
First, it shows visitors that the church is invested in people’s spiritual and physical well-being. It might seem self-evident, but all the church scandals in recent years make many people doubt a church’s intentions.
The prayer request section also lets people ask for help in a more anonymous way, which may make sharing easier for some.
3) Be Welcoming
Resist the temptation to use the front of the card to preach. Overselling can turn some people away before they even have a chance to connect with you.
You often won’t know the context of why new people are visiting your church. They might be firm believers looking for a new local church. They might be there on a whim.
Your card won’t convince believers of your sincerity more than a sermon. And if designed poorly, it could very well scare off people who are exploring the Christian faith for the first time.
Stick with welcoming people to the church. Then let your sermons and the people of your congregation speak for themselves. A compassionate welcome is the best introduction to a church, and far more compelling.
4) Use Multiple Cards
You aren’t required to make one connection card do all the heavy lifting. If you’re going to focus on requesting less information, you’ll probably need a few different cards for different purposes. Just be careful you don’t have too many different kinds of cards, or you might overwhelm people and see fewer cards filled out.
You can have one card that is just a welcome and request for contact info and another that can request volunteers to participate in regular church activities.
You can also make up specific cards that invite people to special events and programs. This could be helpful if you’re going to have a guest speaker, holiday service, or other special events.
5) Brand Your Cards
If your church website doesn’t have a page for welcoming new people to the church, you should create one. Then place the web address on that page right on your welcome card. If nothing else, include your church’s domain name, ideally with your logo.
With smartphones on the rise, newcomers are likely to visit your website for more information.
Take your time to refine your message on your website and use it to welcome newcomers in a more meaningful way.
A church connection card is a powerful tool. It can help you reach people who might not come back again without a gentle nudge. A prayer request section on the card gives you a snapshot of people’s concerns. A connection card can even draw visitors to your website, where you have the chance to give them a more refined welcome.
Below are some links to church connection card templates to help you get started (including some free templates I created to help you apply the ideas in this article):
- http://www.effectivechurchcom.com/category/church-communications/church-connection-cards/ – A collection of creative church connection card examples and templates
- https://www.ministryvoice.com/free-church-connection-card-templates/ – A collection of five free church connection card templates I designed to help you apply the ideas in this article
- https://www.printplace.com/churches/connection-cards – A good service for getting your connection cards printed professionally.