It doesn’t take long for a printed church directory to get out of date. Despite the notion that congregations are often resistant to change, some things change rapidly in churches due to the passage of time. And those changes affect the accuracy and freshness of your printed photo directory.
Here are some key points that indicate it may be time to update your directory.
- Does your directory have photos that include youth members, who are now in their teens, but are shown as infants sitting on a parent’s lap? How about that 3-foot-tall boy in a photo who is now a 6-footer and taller than both his parents? While it’s fun to see what teenagers used to look like, if you don’t know their names, you may never find them in the directory.
- Churches inevitably lose members through death or relocation. It may bring fond memories to see a deceased member’s photo in your directory but having too many of those photos gives the appearance of a dying church, not a growing one. That’s also true of members who have moved away or dropped out. It’s time to breathe some life into your directory.
(Here’s an idea: In your next directory create an In-Memoriam section with photos and bios of the members you have recently lost. Not only will it keep memories of them alive, but it will also show that the church cares about its members. Read our blog post on ways to honor deceased members using your church directory.)
- On the positive side, churches also gain new members. New families move to town and join the church. In most congregations with young families, new babies are born every year. How do those newcomers and new parents feel when they’re not included in the directory? A fresh directory that includes them will help them feel welcome and a part of the church family.
- When members want to send a card to another member or to ask for a recipe they enjoyed at the latest potluck, does your directory have the correct contact information? If not, church leaders or the church office may be bombarded regularly for street addresses, phone numbers or email addresses. Most church staff members don’t have the time in their busy schedules to answer questions the directory could easily provide if it were up to date.
- Is there a stack of printed directories collecting dust on a bottom shelf or in a closet? Chances are the information on those pages is too old to hand out to new members or visitors. It’s probably time to dispose of those directories and create a new one. But before tossing out all the old directories be sure to save some copies for the church library or archives.
If any of those situations apply to your directory, it’s time to consider an update to your church directory.
So, how can you keep your church photo directory fresh and accurate?
An online directory program like Instant Church Directory makes it easier to keep your directory up to date with the latest information. Member information can be updated as changes occur, instead of letting the changes build up until it becomes an overwhelming task. Plus, with Instant Church Directory, your members have the ability to submit their own updates for approval. Once submissions are approved, your directory is updated instantly. And because it’s a digital directory it can be shared immediately any time it’s updated — no need to wait for an outside company to print and deliver new copies. Members can simply log into the church website or use the Instant Church Directory mobile app to find the information they need. Your congregation can trust that the information is always up to date and accurate.