QR Codes and Your Church

Posted at November 15, 2011

“What are all those little square barcodes I keep seeing, and does anybody really use them?” In the past week, I’ve seen these QR codes on the following items:

  • Backlit billboard in the hallway of an airport terminal
  • On a political candidate’s tour bus
  • Cereal box
  • Gas pump
  • Perfume ad in a magazine
  • Highway billboard ad (really?)

I have a love-hate relationship with old fashioned barcodes, which becomes especially pronounced each time I attempt to use the self-checkout at the grocery store. Scanning the same cereal box 18 times, praying that I hear the “beep”… now that’s a party.

Now the old barcode has a new friend: the QR (“Quick Response”) code. Despite their complete ugliness, QR codes have made quite a splash over the past year. They are used over 14 million times each month in the U.S. alone.

Barcodes have been around for eons, but you can thank smartphones for this latest QR code rush.  Pretty much everyone now has an Internet-connected camera on their person 24/7 nowadays. Marketers aren’t dumb, so they’re figuring out how to work this in their favor.

Example Scenario

I see your ad in a shopping mall kiosk, and I want to visit your Website right now. Immediately. Which is easier?

  1. Open up the browser on my phone, tap out “www.yourwebsite.com/specialoffer/mall/kiosk” with the on-screen keyboard
  2. Point my camera at your barcode and tap the link

Despite the fact that designers cringe at these little 2D black-and-white train wrecks, we admit that they are pretty handy.

QR Code Ideas for Ministry

Creating a QR code is easy.  If you have opposable thumbs, you can do it. Just Google “create QR code” and you’ll find several options, like this one.

Here are a few ideas on how you might consider using QR codes within your church:

  • Promote events. Place QR codes in your Sunday bulletin, on posters/signs within your hallways, on flyers, on mailers, and on your announcement screens.
  • Encourage people to update their profiles. If you’re constantly begging people to login to your church database to update their profiles, try using a QR code as a novel and fun way to get them engaged.
  • Print outreach cards with a simple message, such as “Get Hope.” On the reverse side, print a QR code linking back to an outreach page on your church Website. Pass out the cards in public places like Starbucks, train stations, stadiums (stadia?), etc.
  • Tattoo your youth group. You may or may not want to get parental permission on this first, but kids would love to get QR code tattoos with a link to your youth group, a big event, bonfire, or whatever. Let them wear these into school and see if friends start asking questions.
  • Sandwich board. Get some of the more adventurous (photogenic?) folks to stand out on the street Saturday, wearing a big QR code. Link it to a page where your church has placed resources to serve the community. Or something else that is outreach-driven. People will be curious, camera-happy, and just might respond.

QR codes are still novel enough that the simple act of using one can turn heads. We smell opportunity…

Has your church used a QR code in any creative ways, perhaps around a holiday or outreach promotion? Tell us about it in the comments!

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