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Church Directory Software

Most online member directories are offered as part of a Church Management System (CMS). These resources can assist in evaluating and choosing the right CMS for your congregation.

Resources

4 Resources
article
How to Choose Software to Manage Your Church
This quick and simple overview is a helpful introduction for congregations considering church...
web resource
Compare Church Management Software (ChMS)
This website organizes information about 25 church management software systems for...
article
Questions to Ask
This article contains a list of church management software and congregational culture...
book
The Smart Guide to Buying Church Management Software
This downloadable e-book is an introduction to church management software and will help...

About the Contributor

Contributor
Beth McKee

Beth is the Center for Congregation's chief financial officer and director of internal operations. Beth is also an elder and deacon in the Presbyterian church.

Church Directory Software

Perhaps now more than ever, church directory software can be a critical tool for managing successful worship, fellowship, and missionary services. Oftentimes religious organizations have felt that church management technology was only needed for sprawling buildings with large congregations. But, keeping track of contact information and the ministries they serve can potentially be key to leadership, no matter what the denomination or size of the congregation.

Church directory companies are software developers with inside knowledge of how congregations operate. They know that the in-person worship experience may only happen one or two times per week, but that a strong, spiritual organization will need to be prepared to communicate, minister, and serve the community seven days per week.

Church directory software allows a religious organization to better communicate and share information with the congregation. The data it holds could include individual and family contact information, the ministries they serve, their history of giving, different last names, and any notes that can remind church leadership of the member's special needs.

To complement their church directory software, leadership might also consider a church photo directory that puts faces to the names. A church photo directory can also be used for historical purposes by keeping photos of important events such as weddings, funerals, graduations, and fun church outings. Both the member data and photos can be a way to engage with members and keep both the leadership and the congregation communicating with each other.

Congregations are constantly looking for ways to better engage their members. The problem is, traditional bookkeeping will perhaps have outdated or incorrect information on individuals and families, which can make it difficult for leadership to recognize church members for their accomplishments, welcome newer members into the congregation, or send missionary teams to the homebound or hospitalized.

Leaders will find a wide range of church directory pricing scales to fit both small and large congregations. Some software developers can charge a one-time payment per user, while others may charge a low monthly billing fee. With this in mind, it might be good to choose a church directory software that provides a free trial period to make sure that the application is best for the needs of the organization.

Church Management Software

Church management software is available for use on different platforms. A large congregation may benefit from cloud-based applications that hold data that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The largest churches in the US often have pastors and clergy who travel the world spreading their message of hope, and these types of large-scale operations may require church management software that can be easily accessed by administrative teams when they need to run financial reports, schedule itineraries, or manage other affairs of the church.

Smaller places of worship may find the features of desktop church management software best for their needs. Often, these software apps will allow up to 3 people privileges to edit and view the information. Don't feel as if a desktop version has limited features, however, as they can also include powerful features which allow for email blasts, either to select groups or the entire membership. If desired, the organization can enable viewing of the church directory to the entire congregation. This can be a great way to help encourage more sharing and communication among members.

The added benefit of photo directory software is that it can help members to recognize each other. There are a few options available for building a photo database of members. Certain Sundays can be set aside for church family photography day, for example. Or, leaders can ask for members to contribute their own family and individual headshot photos. When organizations distribute a church directory with photos to their members on a regular basis, it can really add life and personality to the church directory.

Whether they choose an online church directory to give members the power to update their own information, or they choose a desktop version that is managed by the admin staff, leadership can always print and bind the information as a church resource for all members.

Online Church Directory

Today, many religious organizations can find themselves looking for every opportunity to cut costs and save time. An online church directory works to accomplish both of these goals, and since some churches exist only online, this can certainly be the best option for them. However, there are other potential benefits to having the church directory available online, rather than as a printed church directory.

Password protected directories help keep member information more secure. Individual logins mean that the admin team can see exactly who has accessed the directory. Churches can custom design these directories to better fit with the church personality or brand. Members are responsible for updating their personal and family profiles and photos. This approach relieves the admin team of having to track member data for accuracy or relevancy.

A church directory form can be used for members to add data and other info. A printed church directory may suit smaller, more intimate congregations, but can also prove counterproductive for medium or larger churches. In today's world, someone’s contact information, personal status, and current church ministry or service can possibly change from year to year, or sometimes even from month to month. With this in mind, an online church directory can help remove the hurdle of communicating timely information, fast and easy.

Typically, these types of church databases will feature cloud storage, so that the information can be accessed from anywhere in the world. They are also compatible with multiple operating systems and technologies such as smartphones, laptops, or tablets. It can also be a good idea to consider an online church directory that gives anyone who desires a hard copy the opportunity to download a printed church directory.

Church directories are not just a database of member names and phone numbers for administrative use. Using a directory, members can search for friends, team members, or the organization's leadership to communicate via email or message. And, no matter where they go, with an online church directory they’ll always have access to key team members or congregation members who might need the church's help.

Small Church Directory

Smaller congregations can have the benefit of being more in touch with members, but these organizations may also be able to benefit from having a small church directory. So, what do people look for in a simple church directory? The ability to have a quick reference for emergencies or field outings is one benefit. Free church directory software may give small churches a simple way to track children and their parents’ names, phone numbers of emergency contacts, and the child's favorite bible verse, as well as notes, such as which ministries the child may be particularly suited for in the future.

This is perhaps the minimum information that a simple church directory can provide for a small church that may be more family-oriented than larger churches. Also, many small churches already use church directory printing services. These directories can be an overhead cost for an organization with a small budget, and while free church directory software may have its limitations, it can be the starting point for helping move the church into a more digital world.

And finally, a small church directory can be a way for members to help support members in business or other opportunities that are not church-related. Smaller churches can be more like a community, and the members could benefit from being able to ask for information or help each other if they have access to a phone number, physical address, or email address.

Church Directory App

Another option for any size congregation is a church directory app that allows members access to information on their mobile devices. The benefit of having a member directory app is that it doesn't require an internet connection, and anyone with a mobile phone and a cellular data plan can access this version of a modern church directory. With an app, there may be information that can still be accessed when the person's mobile device is offline or without a cell tower nearby.

Mobile apps can offer a different level of engagement like clicking to view the most recent sermons, or by simply clicking on a member's info to make a quick phone call. Mobile apps are more popular with people, compared to their experience of visiting a website. This could be because content will sometimes load faster, and mobile apps can simply prove easier to use.

A photo directory app can also be used, which can make organizing member photos and information much easier when compared to a website. And, when a member wants to upgrade their family's photo, it's as simple as using the phone's camera to take the picture and then uploading it to the photo directory app.

Church Directory Ideas

It can be good to try and avoid making a church directory a simple list of names and numbers, as these types of software programs and apps allow for plenty of customization for creativity. This can include things like graphic art, background music, and interesting text fonts and styles. Church photo directory ideas can feature anything from very formal photographs taken by a photographer to extremely casual images of members doing fun church activities.

Other church photo directory ideas include allowing each family to have their own member page filled with family photos, favorite verses, school activities, and parents’ professional skills. Instead of single pictures, it might be good to also consider a collage of pictures or a photo gallery of each family and ministry team. If a group desires a bit of nostalgia in their church photo directory, consider black and white photos instead of color.

Church directories and photos don't have to be dull or serious. Instead, it can be good to capture the unique spirit of the organization and the congregation, such as having a campaign contribute photos of themselves or their family performing some volunteer function in the community. Instead of making it all about the quality of the photo, consider making it about the qualities of the people.

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