Liven Up Your Church Directory in Print and Online
Make the church directory an indispensible ministry tool for everyone to use. A church directory helps clergy and other leaders to stay connected with the congregation.
A directory serves multiple purposes and should be a regular fixture of your congregation. Don't be overwhelmed if you don't have one—or if you have one that needs improving. It's manageable—and a great way to connect your congregation year-round.
Continue to list the essentials (names, addresses, and phone numbers), but imagine all of the other possible information that could make your directory more helpful to members and staff.
A photo directory is one of the best opportunities to connect members, especially in larger churches where it's impossible to know everyone. To new as well as current members, directories offer a way to associate faces with names and to act as a source for contact information.
Who hasn't forgotten a name, but knows the face is familiar? Here's the chance to review the picture of someone you have met at church—and make the connection.
Helping your congregation build relationships means your directory goes beyond the simple. It needs to help everyone relate to each other.
Consider including these options (and always give your members the chance to "opt out" of the options).
Link to Social Media
Most people will be pleased to have more friends, business connections, and followers who share their religious perspective. Don't forget to include the church's social media handles in the front of the directory.
One tip: Including e-mails on your website can bring "spiders" that troll the Internet for listed e-mail addresses. So, instead of using "@," write "at" and the spiders will never detect them.
Ask About the Family
Talk Church Involvement
Include How They Can Help
Include the Church
Go Without Photos in Print
Publish a non-photo directory every year, supplemented by a photo directory every three to five years. That way, new members feel welcome and connected much earlier.
Online directories also are less expensive, and you can update them easily. Limit access to members only by requiring logins and passwords and use SSL encryption. Allow members to opt in and out of the digital version.
If login/password is too complicated, simply ask members to "opt into" a public directory posted on the website.
Members can find benefits of the public postings. They may get business referrals or simply appreciate their church involvement highlighted. A public directory also can enhance your church's search-engine optimization rankings.
Online directories also can make it easier for members to change personal information and add photos. Some companies that offer directory software and related programs include a free trial.
Offer More Benefits
Or, consider doing it yourself. Buy software, hire a photo studio (or a skilled photographer in your congregation willing to donate services), and design the pages to send to your printer and/or post online.
An important consideration in choosing any service provider or program is to find one that allows you to create both print and digital versions.
This information is courtesy of United Methodist Communications, www.umcom.org.