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A QR code for your church? Imagine the possibilities

Anyone with a smartphone can scan a QR code — those ubiquitous bar codes that look like a miniature maze — and be directly linked with detailed information. Churches are finding lots of ways to use QR codes, which are easy to create and share. For example, if you are viewing this article on a desktop or laptop computer, grab your smartphone, open the camera app and scan the QR code in the image above. It's that simple. Image courtesy of IStock; graphic by Sara Schork, United Methodist Communications.
Anyone with a smartphone can scan a QR code — those ubiquitous bar codes that look like a miniature maze — and be directly linked with detailed information. Churches are finding lots of ways to use QR codes, which are easy to create and share. For example, if you are viewing this article on a desktop or laptop computer, grab your smartphone, open the camera app and scan the QR code in the image above. It's that simple. Image courtesy of IStock; graphic by Sara Schork, United Methodist Communications.

If you watched the Super Bowl in February, you may recall an unusual commercial featuring a colorful QR code slowly bouncing around the screen. Thanks to this one 60-second commercial, the advertiser’s website got 20 million hits within a minute of the ad airing. 

 

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The good news is that generating success with the use of QR codes isn’t limited to businesses.

QR codes were created in the 1990s, but since the onset of COVID-19, they have received a second life. Today, churches are finding more ways than ever to use these two-dimensional bar codes. 

A QR code serves as a direct link. In a store, an employee uses a handheld device to scan a barcode and retrieve a price for a product. In the same way, a user scans a QR code with a smartphone and retrieves information.

There are two basic types of codes: static and dynamic. 

Static codes have one internet link or document attached. A static QR code is unchangeable. Every person who scans the code will be taken to the same internet address every time. This type of code works well for permanent addresses or files that will not need periodic updates. For example, a church might use a static code to link to its website. 

The link for a dynamic code can be changed. A church might use a dynamic code that links to the Sunday sermon. Since the sermon changes each week, the link would change as well.

QR codes allow churches to limit physical contact with materials, reduce waste and save money. For example, a QR code can replace the Sunday morning bulletin or guest cards. They also provide the ability to give detailed information in a concise package. 

QR codes also can be linked to videos and forms. They can make event registration and online giving quicker and easier than ever. Instead of typing in web addresses or clicking through multiple links, users can scan a QR code and have direct access to the information they need. 

The options for how to use QR codes are almost limitless.

  • Does your church have a variety of rooms that are used for various ministries? Create and display a QR code for each room so that a person who scans the code can learn about the ministry that takes place there.  
  • Are you looking for new ways to share the Gospel? Create a QR code that links to a Gospel presentation. Place the code on posters, stickers and yard signs.
  • Are you planning to host a booth at a local event? Place a QR code on freebies, such as mugs, Frisbees and bookmarks. Everyone who scans the code can have immediate access to your church website, location address, and services.
  • Do you need a fun activity for a camp or holiday event? Create QR codes linked to a variety of clues, Bible verses or historical information about your church. Place the printed codes in various locations on the property and encourage youth and adults to find them.
  • Do you want a different type of advent calendar? Make a QR code for an activity each day. Print the codes on a calendar. Parents can simply scan each code to receive all the pertinent information for that day’s lesson.

Programmers can create QR codes, but the easiest and cheapest way for churches to take advantage of the technology is to use a QR code generator such as QR-Code MonkeyQR-Code GeneratorFlowcode or Scanova. Most offer free QR static code generation. Some include free customization.

To avoid the complication of creating multiple QR codes or paying for a dynamic code, many churches and other organizations link their codes to a landing page. Some may opt to use a site such as Linktree. In this way, a church can have one QR code that allows access to multiple links that can be changed at any time. (Linktree will also create a QR code with the free account, but customization is not available.)

For example, users scan a code that takes them to a page with a list of links such as service times, VBS registration and a video of last week’s sermon. While all of that information is probably on your website, a landing page provides easier navigation.

Here are three sets of instructions on how you can create a QR code for your church today:

Option 1: This option offers more customization of the actual QR code. For example, you may be able to choose from a variety of colors or include your logo in the center of the code.

Choose a QR code generator. Compare sites and reviews if possible. Be wary of sites that say they are free but ask for payment information. The creation and use of a static code is usually free. Create an account and then fill in the blanks to create a code. You will need the web address link (URL) that you want users to access. This can be your website, a guest form or any other information. Once you have completed the form, the site will generate a code for you.

Option 2: This option provides a static QR code with multiple, changeable links.

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Visit Linktree or a similar landing page service. Create an account and follow the instructions to create and customize a landing page. Add multiple links. For example, you may have links for service times, VBS enrollment, guest forms and last week’s sermon video. On Linktree, hit the share button in the upper right corner of the page. Click on the My Linktree QR code tab and Linktree will generate a code for that landing page.    

Option 3: This option combines the benefits of Option 1 and Option 2.

Follow the instructions for Option 2 and create a landing page but do not generate a code from your landing page service. Copy the landing page URL. For Linktree, this begins with https://linktr.ee/ and is followed by the name you have chosen for your landing page. Follow the directions for Option 1 and include the landing page URL as the sole link for your static code.

Once a code is generated, download it — typically as a .png or .jpg file — and print it. Test the code before publicizing it. Keep the white space around the code intact and make sure that the entire code is visible. If any edges are cut off, the code will be unreadable. You also can include the QR code on your social media pages. When users point their smartphones at the QR code, they will get instant access to information.

QR codes need very little maintenance. If you created a landing page, make sure to update or delete unnecessary links or links that have changed. Periodically check the code to make sure that it still works. 

Take advantage of free tracking services that are available from some generators and landing pages. They can offer valuable information about who is using your codes and what they are accessing. 

Publicizing your church in a variety of ways can help more people learn about your ministries. QR codes offer a way to quickly share your information with the potential for big impact all while using a minimal footprint. 

Of course, not everyone has a QR code app or built-in camera feature on their phone, so be sure to have several ways to get people to your information.


Tricia Brown

Tricia K. Brown is an author, speaker and Bible teacher. You can read her blog at The Girls Get Together or purchase her devotional book, ”A Year of Yearning,” from Amazon.