Church Member Directory: Tradition Meets Technology
By: Katy Dunigan
A church directory is an important element to a well-connected and vital community of faith believers and plays an important role in building community among its members while telling the church's "faith story."
Once exclusively paper booklets published by photography companies, church directories listed basic member contact information alongside a formal family photo. To record church history, the directory also included pictures of various church activities, such as mission trips, Sunday school class, and the annual Christmas pageant.
Today, in the world of digital technology, publishing a basic printed member directory is still an option, but to keep pace with today's trends, an online member directory brings new life and new benefits to the traditional printed church directory.
Whether hosted online, printed or both, a church directory continues to serve an important purpose and should be included in a church's ministry resource plan for many reasons.
Being listed in a church photo directory strengthens a member's sense of belonging and commitment to a church and his fellow members.
An up-to-date directory helps church staff be more effective by helping them connect names with faces. Calling members by name strengthens relationships and increases engagement.
It's a sad truth that churches are seeing a decrease in membership and that millennials (ages 18-34) are forgoing traditional church for non-traditional church experiences. For many of them, church is an outdated Sunday activity. Offering an online directory highlights your ability to keep pace with today's technology and shows them church can still be a relevant part of their daily lives.
Ministry Measurement Tool
People want to feel they are part of an active and effective ministry. A directory featuring church groups and ministry activities is an excellent way to show the good work you are doing in the church and your community.
An online directory offering email features and a mobile app offering one touch calling and texting helps members easily connect with each other. Printed directories are a viable resource for members who are not comfortable using digital technology. The more your members connect, the more community and collaboration grows.
New members joining your church can immediately be added to your online directory in a few easy steps. Being included in the directory helps them feel right at home.
Some key reasons to consider using an online directory:
Online directories are secure.
Online directories can be kept up-to-date.
Online directories can be printedin-house or by a professional printer.
Member profiles can be updated & changed regularly.
Families, Individuals, Groups, & Staff can all be listed.
Online directories are linked to a church's website.
Online directory mobile apps let members access the directory anytime from anywhere.
Some important things to consider before getting started:
Not all directories are created equal.
Look for a member directory solution offering online, mobile and print solutions.
Security is key.
If choosing an online solution, make sure it utilizes Secure Socket Layering (SSL) to provide the highest measure of privacy protection.
An outdated directory is an outdated resource.
Make sure your directory can be updated easily, by your members or your directory administrator.
Professional photography is not required.
Today's technology allows you to capture high-quality photos with a simple push of a button. Form a volunteer team, find volunteer photographers and set up a church photo booth or ask members to submit their own photos. The choice is up to you!
One-time set-up provides long-term benefits
Look for a directory solution offering a one-time set-up so that directory committees, photo sessions, and high-pressure sales sessions can be a "pain of the past!"
Continue providing a member directory at your church, but look for a fresh approach to ensure your members and ministries receive the best benefits from this time-honored tradition.
Katy Dunigan is marketing director for www.onlinechurchdirectory.com.