Want to create an online church directory but don't know where to start?
It can be daunting to create an online directory for your church, especially if you're not tech-savvy. But there are church software programs that make it easy for anyone of any skill level to assemble a custom, secure church directory your members can take on the go!
In this article, we'll cover the benefits of having a member directory, why you want to create an online church directory, and cover the 6 things you'll want to include.
A church directory › is a collection of your church members and their basic information. Churches have been using directories to help members connect with each other for decades.
Originally, a directory would be a physical document listing every member or family. But churches now have many options for church directories!
There are several reasons why your church needs a directory:
Members connect names and faces: Contact details are useful, but members want to know the person more than they want to know their email address.
Easier to build relationships: This is the main motivation for any ministry to create a directory. The whole point is to make it easier for members to know and connect with one another.
Integrate new members & staff: A directory gives new members and new church staff a chance to get to know everyone even when they're not in the building. This helps new people feel at home much faster and integrates them into the larger body.
There are several benefits to taking your church directory online:
If you choose a platform that allows member data import, you can have your directory completed in minutes.
Directories of the past were convenient but unsecure. Once the church printed or emailed the document, there was no way to ensure the information stayed out of the wrong hands.
An online church directory can be the most secure option to keep your member info private. If you follow the "Online Church Directory Security Tips" section below, your members' info will be safe and protected.
A printed directory is outdated the moment a new person joins or a member moves to a new address. A digital church directory can be updated anytime, with the changes reflected in the church directory app instantly.
Say goodbye to printing and shipping costs! Devote those funds to something more important, like getting a new coffee machine for the welcome area.
Members need access to the directory. That's the whole point of having it!
Churches used to print one out for every member to have. But that costs time and money, and the member still can't access it from anywhere. They have to pull it off the shelf whenever they need another member's phone number or address.
A church directory app › offers the greatest degree of convenience and member access. Your people can take it with them wherever they go, no need to print or email anything.
Online security and data privacy are more important now than ever.
Churches often print the directory and hand copies to anyone who asks. With the advent of the internet, many ministries opted to email the directory to everyone to save on printing costs. But both of those methods leave members vulnerable to their information landing in the wrong hands.
Recently, ministry leaders have added their directory to the church website. Many church directory software programs integrate with your website to allow you to do this. This made access to the directory much easier. But it also leaves members more vulnerable than ever before!
Scammers are targeting churches in earnest. The FTC reported › an increase in gift card scams in 2019 where scammers text church members pretending to be the church pastor, asking them to send a gift card for an emergency.
Where do the scammers find the pastor's name and the member's phone number together to make that connection? The church's online member directory.
The best way to protect your church is to:
Whatever online church directory software you use, make sure privacy and security › are the top priority. We can't let the convenience of online access to the directory become a liability for our people.
Both church leaders and members need to be able to customize the directory so that it serves everyone's needs. Here is what's needed by each:
As the administrator, the church directory program must give you the ability to add or remove fields, edit the information of each member, and accept or deny anyone who wishes to gain access.
The directory program must give members the ability to log in and update their information. It also needs to let members opt-in or opt-out at any time.
Your directory program needs to let your people update at least the following:
Letting your members keep your records up to date for you will make your job much easier and save you a lot of time.
Photos are the linchpin of any directory.
The utility of a directory comes from all the information your people can look up. But the impact comes from attaching faces to that information.
Your online church directory should give church administrators the ability to upload pictures for members as well as offer members the option to upload their own photos. This makes it easier to keep the pictures up-to-date.
When choosing an online church directory software, pick one that doesn't charge extra to add pictures of your people. The ability to identify members by their smiling faces makes personal connections much easier for your members.
If your people's information is stored on a spreadsheet or in another church software, you need an easy way to migrate that information into your church directory.
Whatever directory program you choose must include the option to import your member data. This saves you the headache of painstakingly entering the information by hand for your whole church. If the program does the import for you for FREE, that's even better!
Juggling two different programs means twice the work. Even if your church directory program can import member data, you will still have to format the information to fit the program's specifications.
The #1 best solution is to choose a church software program that can do it all › Manage member information, donation tracking, online church directory, church app, and member portal on one platform to save you time and make church management much easier. Also look for a program that includes church accounting features, worship and volunteer management features, child check-in features, and anything else your ministry needs.
Having an all-in-one church management software means you don't have to pay multiple subscriptions or juggle multiple logins to use the tools you need to do ministry. Think of the cost savings of using a program that bundles your directory, church app, and member portal together!
Though you could use a dedicated directory software, the most convenient and cost-effective solution is to use a church management software program. Not only will an all-in-one platform simplify the process of creating your online member directory, but it gives you additional tools to reach your congregation ›