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Church Directory Software | The Value Of a Church Directory
By: Karen Walters

When a new portrait directory for our church arrives, our family can't wait to being scanning the pages, looking first to find our family portrait. Then we look up friends, read the pastor's message, and peruse the activity pages. We turn the pages again and again, recognizing familiar faces, learning new names, and discovering members new to us. Later, we find ourselves retrieving previous directories to see not only how our family has grown and changed, but also our church family. We are proud to be part of this worship community.

In addition to the printed directory, our church members can stay connected via an online directory where we can view family portraits, look up member information, send e-mails, and update contact information for other members.

Churches today recognize the power of online tools and what they can mean to both the members and the staff. Technology keeps us connected. It can work for you, too.

"Say Cheese"
Family portraits are the heart of every church directory. The more members that complete a portrait sitting, the more complete the directory. Photography has been taken to a new level.

Beyond traditional head-and-shoulders photography, photographers are wowing their guests with portraits that tell a story and preserve a moment in time, thanks to varied backgrounds, lighting, and props. Families are more engaged, coordinating their attire or bringing pets and special mementos to their portrait sitting.

Members appreciate the opportunity to have a family portrait. Studies show that the average family wants a professional portrait every three years, and they often look to their church directory program for that opportunity.

Also, family portrait sessions are wonderful opportunities for churches to reach out to inactive members. By offering this on-site service, churches are able to reinvigorate relationships and encourage greater participation in the congregation and, the result is a more complete directory.

Stay Connected
More and more churches are embracing technology, and many offer their directories electronically, in addition to print. These online publications can be updated regularly, ensuring that member information is current.

To facilitate organization, directory administrators can print updated member rosters, send e-mails to the congregation, add new families, and allow members to update family portraits.

Confidentiality of member information is important, and church leaders have a responsibility to ensure that personal information is secure. When selecting an online directory host, be sure to ask about site security. Choose a provider that assigns unique passwords to each member, so that individuals have control of customized profiles and information displayed.

 Whether in the church office or on the go, it's easy to stay connected with an online directory.

Easy to Connect
It's too much work! That's a common thought when it comes time to plan a directory event. But, with today's technology, planning a directory has never been easier.

Online scheduling allows members to plan and reserve portrait sittings at their convenience. Resources such as e-marketing, website content, and automated phone calling make it easy to get the word out. Even directory-creation software is user-friendly, flexible, and offers plenty of design options another time-saving tool that delivers great results.

Support the Mission
Many churches share their directories when meeting prospective church members. In addition to member portraits, directories often highlight an organization's unique history, values, mission, and vision, as well as activities such as volunteerism, ministry programs, and events helpful information for new members.

Make It a Partnership
Not only do church directories provide a multitude of benefits to the church, but they help build community within a congregation and enhance the connections among ministry, members, and the wider community.

No matter if a church directory is new for you or you are updating a current directory, there are a number of considerations when choosing a portrait and directory provider:

* No cost to the church
* A complimentary directory and portrait for each family photographed
* Free, secure, easily accessed and updated online directory
* Additional directories for outreach
* Compelling photography by trained professionals employed by the directory company
* Design and production options
* In-house production of directories and portraits to ensure consistency and quick turnaround
* Free tools to encourage participation, such as posters, bulletin inserts, pulpit and newsletter announcements, reminder cards, sign-up displays, online sign-up tools, DVDs, and presentations
* References from other churches

Karen Walters is a marketing manager with Lifetouch Church Directories, www.lifetouch.com.

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Religious Product News