We Gather Together To Scan? 5 Ways Parishes Can Use QR Codes

You may have been seeing these wacky-looking little images popping up everywhere.  If you don’t know what they are, they are called QR Codes.  Simply put, a QR Code is an image one can scan with their smartphone that directs the phone for a number of different purposes.  Some of these directions can be:

– Go to a website (URL), Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube video, etc.

– Add information to your contact list

– Dial a phone number

– Send a text

– Add an event to your calendar

– So forth and so on

They are free to create and two of my personal favorite services to create them are:

  1. Kaywa QR Code – Great straight forward service to quickly and easily create a QR code
  2. QRStuff.com – Another great service which also has partnerships to order merchandise with QR Codes printed on them
  3. Using Google’s URL shortener.  If use use this service, simply click the “Details” link next the the link towards the bottom of the screen and it will automatically generate a QR code graphic on screen.  You’ll also notice that it gives you reporting when you return to the screen later.
The codes are graphic files that can be used on just about anything.  They can be inserted into print materials, signs, on screen, marketing merchandise, washable tattoos, so forth an so on.  One company even offers to print them on chocolate (Chocolate Graphics)!
Sounds great, right?  Now you are probably wondering how these could be implemented and be worthwhile for your Catholic Parish.  Great question, and here’s just 5 ways you could use these:
  1. Make that bulletin interactive!
    1. If you look in your weekly bulletin it’s filled with events and dates.  A QR Code inserted into the announcement can allow the reader to scan and add the event to their calendar in their phone.
    2. Maybe your event requires someone to email someone for an RSVP, a QR Code initiating that email would be great.
    3. You provide more information about the announcement on your website, a QR Code can direct the reader right to the page on your website
  2. Promoting parish social media or new programs.  If your trying to promote that new Facebook page or Online Giving program, a QR Code which directs people directly to those places can be an added bonus.
  3. Parish website.  I’m a big fan of promoting Catholic apps on the parish website.  Where do we get apps?  On our phones or iPod Touches.  Say, The New Mass App by Cale Clarke.  So QR Codes which direct the user to the app in the app store makes it easy and quick for them.  A QR Code to add the parish contact information to one’s phone is another great use.
  4. Added value for advertisers.  Businesses are finding real value in QR Codes.  How about if the advertising those businesses are paying for at the back of the bulletin have QR Codes that directs to where ever they wish (i.e. contact information, wesbite, facebook page, coupon offer, etc.).
  5. Any print or promotional material (Chocolates, t-shirts, etc.) your are handing out that you want to offer the recipient more information online or add the event to their calendar.
This list could obviously be a lot longer.  This is an area you can get creative and have a lot of fun.
If your parish is already using QR Codes, how so?  What’s been the response?  What questions do you have about QR codes?
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Author:Brad West

I live in Palm Coast, FL with my family and have assisted my local parish with our website and communications. Our parishes today can benefit a great deal from technology. Whether it's improving communications, community building, evangelizing, business operations, and much more; we have the tools today. To help provide some direction and advice to parishes and parishioners, I wrote and published an eBook titled "The Connected Church" which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).
  • Ashley Collins

    I’m using some for the World Youth Day Chicago Style display for my office (Office for Mission Education and Animation: Fostering the New Evangelization) that I’m putting together for tomorrow. I’ll have three, one as a link to our FB page, one for our Twitter and one will be to an online survey for the teens to take that asks them ways in which they are on Mission or would be most comfortable in doing so. I would put a link to our website but not until I finish the new site. Also, our diocese is focusing this year on Teens and Young Adults in their Strategic Pastoral Plan. They have printed up cards that have a small keychain attached to them to http://www.reflectchristslight.com which is a site with videos and such by Word on Fire’s Fr. Barron.
    So that’s my QR code story!

    • Brad

      Ashley, I really like how you are using QR Codes in with your display materials.  Those are great examples especially with the survey.  The site you linked to above is great too!  Love it!  Great job.  

  • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

    Thanks for the info Brad. I use the RedLaser app (free) on my iPhone for scanning them.


    • Brad

      Great point, Craig.  I forgot the “how do people scan piece”.  Yikes.  I use the Google Shopping app or Shop Savvy app as a scanner.  Both work great too.  RedLaser looks great too.  I’ll have to check that out.  Thanks for pointing that out.

      • http://acyberpilgrim.org Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

        Thanks for sharing the apps for the iPhone.  I was wondering what would work best!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jens.albers Jens Albers

    Hi, another way to use QR Codes: http://www.bistum-essen.de/blogs/wjt2011/wjt-gruse-von-stefan-ottersbach/  It’s a message of greeting for the Qorld Youth Day

    • Brad

      That’s another great example Jens.  Thanks so much for sharing.  WYD has alot we can learn from in terms of social media and effective online use for the Church.  They have done a wonderful job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Day/645132623 Mike Day

    Great site!  Just found it today.  Funny thing, too, because I’ve been in a QR-code-craze lately…

    I’ll actually be using QR codes at our Pre Cana for the first time this Saturday.  I’ll have a large one up on screen as the first slide of the PowerPoint presentation (and a smaller one in their packets as well) that will download a copy of the whole PowerPoint in PDF format to follow along.

    • Brad

      It is definitely one of those tech things you can start finding uses for in a lot of things we already do.  I love the idea of QR Code to download docs or a powerpoint presentation in pdf.  Awesome idea.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y3EZ4H3ITP6DKVAR3XCVZ3F6UU Alice


    I do agree that QR code will be
    used in many other ways, by our smart phone and PDA.