Churches that make an impact move people to action. They take people from thinking about the mission to engaging with it. Response cards are a core tool to help churches elicit feedback. Here are some tips for creating response cards that boost responses!
- Get ’em in their seats! During the service you have a captive audience. Don’t ask people to respond anywhere else but right in their seats. As soon as they make it out the door, they are thinking about who’s going to win the big game that afternoon or where they are going for lunch.
- Paper > digital. I love digital stuff, but there really isn’t a faster way to get data than to have people fill out some sort of paper card during the service. Don’t believe me? Get two people and ask them both to write their name, phone number and email address — one on a piece of paper and the other in an email sent to you. Paper wins every time. The goal is to make it as easy as possible, which may sometimes be a pain for your leadership … in this case, the price of entering data into a system is worth the simplicity for your guests.
- Narrow the focus. Ideally, each card asks for a response to one thing. Avoid general-purpose response cards with 25 check boxes. The more options you give people, the less likely they are to respond (really). For our church that meant switching to a “New Here” card designed for people we want added to our guest follow-up system and then occasional cards for specific asks (e.g., events, baptisms, classes, etc.).
- Fewer questions! Every question you ask on the response card should drive a specific follow-up action. Don’t have questions on the card for the sake of collecting general data. (Design a specific card just for that.) Are you planning to follow up with people by email? Just ask for an email address. The more extraneous questions you ask, the less likely people will be to fill out a form and the more it will feel like an intrusion. Another guideline: If you wouldn’t ask people for the information to their faces, don’t ask for it on a form. Would you ask someone for his or her marital status or gender?
- Little boxes. Most handwriting is terrible. (I’m pretty sure Bill Gates and Steve Jobs can be blamed for that!) Help people by providing vertical hash marks on the form to space out their answers. There is a reason that government forms have those little boxes — it makes it easier for them to read the replies!
- Respond quickly. The time between when people fill out their response cards and when they hear from you needs to be measured in hours not days. This will reinforce to people that completing the form was a positive thing. It rewards them for doing what you wanted them to do.
- Think about service timing. The element of surprise can be a powerful motivator. Rather than stuffing response cards into programs for people to review from the moment they walk in, maybe it would be better to hold onto them and have your ushers hand them out at an appointed time during the service. On the other hand, if what you’re asking people to respond to is something you’ve been talking about for a few weeks, it might be helpful to have response cards in the programs so people can fill them out before the service even starts. (For multisite churches that use video teaching, having the “video preacher” call the ushers forward to hand out the response cards is a great way to “break the screen” and make it feel as if they are in the room.)
- Pens … the pens! If you are going to ask people to fill out cards on paper, you need to provide something for them to write with. If you can’t have a pen at every seat, at least make sure they are nearby. Tell people where they can get pens, so there is no question in their minds. Also, make sure the pens you use can write on the paper that your response cards are printed on. (Don’t laugh … I’ve made that mistake before!)
- Data entry teams. Data entry teams are at the core of making all this work. Believe it or not, there are people in your church who would love to join (or lead!) a team that enters data on a regular basis. Engage this team in the process of making your forms so they know what to expect. Make sure you explain to them that this is a practical way to help people move to action. It’s more than just punching data … it’s a part of the discipleship process as people take their next steps!
Sample Response Cards
Thanksgiving Outreach // A card asking people to sign up for an upcoming mass mobilization event.
Conference Book Giveaway // This is an example of a card where we asked for more than just phone and email address … we needed their mailing address to mail them a book.
New Here // A tool we use to collect information on people who are new at our church … so we can start following up with them and encouraging them to come back!
5K Sign Up // A good example of what we’ve done when we’ve had two asks on a Sunday. We try to simplify them to make it super obvious to people.