QR Codes, Congregations and a UU Growth Challenge

The following guest post is by Bridgette Collado and Rev. Eric Hausman. Bridgette is a health communication consultant, focused on the intersection of health and technology. She may be found on Twitter as @bcollado. Eric is a Unitarian Universalist minister with backgrounds in technology and organization growth. Learn more about Eric at reverendhausman.com.

QR Codes and Religion
by Bridgette Collado and Rev. Eric Hausman

Bridgette Collado     This QR Code is encoded with url http://www.facebook.com/groups/uugrowthlab      Rev. Eric Hausman

When Peter asked us to write a piece on QR code technology for The UU Growth Blog, we jumped at the chance to share a part of our regular discussion on religion and technology. There’s much abuzz about QR codes for use in “marketing” these days – in commercial marketing, non-profit and government marketing, and even in our very own UU Growth Lab on Facebook.

These 2-dimensional symbols first hit the market in 1994 after the technology group, Denso Wave developed the codes to streamline operations in car manufacturing. QR stands for “quick response” and these symbols can serve up a large amount of data with a swift scan. They stand up to more dirt and damage than traditional codes with error-correction programming. They are omni-directional (i.e. they can be read from any angle). One QR code can store 16 individual codes. And, they are able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Well, perhaps not that last one.

To read a QR code, a scanner must be installed on your mobile phone (your phone must also have a camera). The list of uses for QR codes can go on and on. Here are just a few examples of types of data that can be stored in a QR code:

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Contact information in the form of a virtual business card
  • Event details
  • URL
  • Geo location
  • Text
  • SMS (pre-populates the number and message)
  • MMS
  • WiFi configuration

UUs are not the first to think about how this technology might fit into religious settings. For example, a Santa Monica based Catholic community developed this QR code to accompany a mass schedule. A scan gets you the mass schedule on your phone.

This Christian group includes a QR code on a promotional hang-tag providing a map to the Hope Family Fellowship church.

At Journey of Faith in Grand Rapids, Michigan, QR codes pepper the bulletin leading scanners to more information on their website. This allows for a more concise bulletin and savings on resources.

Now, UUs are a creative bunch. So, we’d like to challenge you to get creative…with QR codes. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to find ways to address growth and/or retention strategies with a QR code “campaign”.

Here’s what you’ll need:

☐  A buddy. Share in the fun and creative process, and recruit a friend or two to complete this challenge with you.

☐  A QR code generator. There are several free QR code generators available. Explore the options before choosing so that you get the best fit for your idea. Here’s a list of free services:

☐  A QR code reader. You’ll need to download a free QR code reader to your smartphone. Go to the app store or market and search for QR code reader. Voila!

☐  A camera. You’ll need to snap a few photos of your QR code in use to share with us.

After you’ve completed the challenge, we would love to hear your stories. Please share with us:

  • How you decided to apply the technology
  • What considerations went into the plan
  • What challenges you faced
  • Reflections
  • Photos or video

Ready. Set. Go!

5 thoughts on “QR Codes, Congregations and a UU Growth Challenge

  1. Hi. Obvious use for QR codes is for enhancing the visitor experience with the goal of attending worship and other church functions again. All too often UU churches do not share their local contribution to an area’s history and social justice. When you walk into my church, you have no idea what it’s contribution has been to Arlington, VA (DC metro area). The church is proud of its history but no one would know it. Our welcome desk is over-run sometimes with people but few volunteers. Volunteers rotate so they don’t necessarily remember everything they learned in the training. QR codes should be standard — on the Order of Service (back cover); on the Welcome Desk — and dare i say it — On pews themselves. —When I say “should,” my assumption is that those who attend and those who visit do indeed have phones with an app that reads them. We really have no idea what the cell phone use of folks is who attend. –Meanwhile, on our church sites, there should be a QR code or reference to “look for it in the church;” and also a link to a list of apps for a variety of phones. —June Herold, UU of ARlington, VA

  2. We used our first QR code last week in the printed announcement sheet. The code takes the user to our on-line payment page. The code was provided by Vanco Services, the company that handles our electronic fund transfers and website payment page. I don’t know if anyone scanned it yet. Now we know what a QR code is and a volunteer has started generating codes.

  3. Can you get a little more basic, for those of us without smartphones? What happens when one scans one of these things? A website pops up on one’s phone? Data sneak into one’s contact list? What?

    Where I serve (Palo Alto) there are smartphones (and QRs) galore, and this could be really useful, but I might have to use my wife’s Android to randomly scan signs all over the city in order to find out what it is they do. IOW, take my life into my hands. It’s safer to ask you.

  4. YES. in order to decode the qr code .we sometimes need barcode reader or somenting. and i found an amazing website. you can go and have a look,

    if you need to download it to your phone based on android, iphone . you can also have a reference

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