Do you ever get the sense that church can be a lonely place — even when you are a member? It seems that even with social media, people are more isolated than ever before.
One of the biggest issues churches face today is striving to create a community within the church body. When your church members do not feel connected within the church, they often do not feel the need to be involved in the church. A church directory is one way to help members and visitors get to know one another, which is the first step in strengthening church community.
When evaluating how to first create your directory, be sure to choose a program that offers a mass communication feature such as group emailing and group texting. These features are great resources to communicate with members, and they can enable your congregation to better connect with one another. Here are some of our favorite ways to connect the members in your congregation using your church’s directory.
- Current Members. We ALL know members at church whom we see each Sunday, but whose names we don’t know. Even more embarrassing, they know our name. That can create awkward moments when reaching out to shake a hand. A church directory can simply help members put names with faces, creating confidence to extend a hand. And when we know someone’s name, we will spend a little more time getting to know more about him or her.
- New Members. Nothing makes a new member feel more welcome than being included. A directory gives a pictorial reference so that new members can get to know the congregation and existing members can get to know them. As soon as new members’ photos are taken, they can be added to your directory online so existing members can see them right away. Also, with online directories, not only are photos immediately updated, but contact information is added to include new members on emails about events and activities.
Sending a church-wide email welcoming the new members, along with their contact information, will make them feel welcomed quickly. It will also prompt the congregation to connect with the newest additions to the church family.
- Special Days. Everyone likes to be remembered on their birthday. Celebrate with your members on their special days. Including birthdays and anniversaries in your church’s directory gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate with one another. If your directory program has an email or text feature, sending out a quick reminder of birthdays and anniversaries will encourage members to reach out to one another. And the great thing is that your members will probably text a quick happy birthday message directly to that member — helping to create lasting bonds among your church members.
- Family Spotlight. Each week, spotlight a different family within your congregation. Put their picture in the bulletin and share something special or unique about that family.
- Prayer Requests. Sharing prayer requests is one of the best ways to encourage the congregation to minister to one another in times of need. An up-to-date directory gives your members access to contact information for reaching out during these times. Time-sensitive requests can be distributed to certain groups or to the entire congregation, if your directory program has a messaging or group text function. A directory program that allows the church staff to have phone numbers and addresses at their fingertips on a mobile device is convenient for locating and communicating with members in times of need.
- Keep One Another in Prayer. Many church members or ministries have used their church directory to simply circulate routinely through the members’ roster to be sure no one feels left out. One member has shared that he opens his directory each day, chooses the next name on the roster and prays specifically for that person or family.
- Sensitive Issues. Unfortunately, serious illnesses and death are a part of church life. This is a time when those affected may need their church family the most. Having necessary contact information as well as the ability to send email updates to the congregation is crucial, but it also helps to engage specific groups within the congregation that can minister to those families who are facing times of sadness.
Your church’s directory is more than a group of photos. Each family or individual makes up the story of your church. A dynamic, growing church has interconnected families who go through life together. Use your church’s directory to help your church members become better connected with one another and strengthen the body of Christ within the entire community. A connected church is a growing church.