Welcome Cards / Pew Cards / Connection Cards… they have many names; but for the sake of clarity, let’s call them Connection Cards. Filling out a connection card is one of the first steps a visitor or newcomer will take to try to engage more fully with the church.
There are several things to consider:
1) Excellence: The Card should be designed to elicit information. So, let’s take the time to create a quality card that is easy to engage with. It should be designed with excellence and gives a user an idea of the level of importance the church places on being a truly welcoming faith community.
2) Clarity: Be clear in your messaging. Why are they filling out the card in the first place? No one likes giving their personal information wondering if they will begin receiving lots of and lots of spam emails; or even worse, receiving solicitations for money/a pledge or a gift. Be clear in what you are offering and what they should expect by giving their personal information. Include language such as “We’d like to connect with you about ways you can get plugged in at St. John’s. We will contact you by phone this week to welcome your personally and to provide you next steps to get connected. With your email address, we’ll subscribe you to our weekly eNewsletter, The St. John’s eWeekly, so that you can receive information about opportunities to connect to God and to others at St. John’s..”
3) Simplicity: The most crucial element of your church’s connection card is the number of form fields you request from visitors. The fewer form fields you display, the more cards you’ll have filled out. So the question you should ask yourself is, “What is the absolute least amount of information we need to capture from a new visitor?” Once you have basic information from someone, you can always follow up with them later to get more information. So if all you get is their first name and email address up front, you can always follow up later to get their physical address. They are more likely to give that information at a newcomer’s event or other ministry event.
Once you’ve created your Connection Cards, make sure you have a process by which you contact visitors. Who contacts them? What information do they provide, what questions do they ask, and what are the next steps/invitation to connect further with the church? If they are added to receive the eNewsletter, do they get an initial email welcoming them to the receiving of the weekly eNewsletter? Remember, if a visitor happens to visit during your stewardship season, the first point of contact shouldn’t be a request for a pledge or donation! Ensure your processes by which your visitors are contacted, communicated with, and entered into your database are well thought out. Your visitors will feel truly welcomed and will appreciate the care in which the church invited them to connect more deeply in the church community and with God.