How to Modernize Your Church Directory

June 11, 2024 Hannah Hansen


Church directories have been an important part of churches’ communication strategies for many years. While they’ve evolved over time, their purpose is still the same: to collect your members’ information and organize it in a way that’s easy to use.

However, in this digital age, you need to modernize your church directory to not only make it easier to use but also make it easier to protect sensitive information.

What Is a Church Directory?

A church directory is a collection of your church members’ information, such as who lives in their households, phone numbers, and birthdays. Church directories can be physical or digital.

The History of Church Directories

You might remember church directories being large physical books that contained photos, names, and contact information for every member of your church.

Now many church directories are digital, connected to the church management software your office staff uses to organize information.

Historically, whether your church directory is physical or digital, there have been two major problems: (1) they become outdated over time and (2) they can be difficult to update. This leads us to one solution: modernizing your church directory.

How to Modernize Your Church Directory

Digitize Your Directory

Digitizing your church directory is perhaps the best way to modernize it. There are many ways this can be accomplished, but the easiest is to give members access to it digitally through a private web page. We’ll dive more into data protection later, but having this information restricted to only those with an account allows this sensitive information to be easily accessible yet private.

Updating by Using a Template

Rather than just asking members to send in their updated information, we recommend using a template to easily gather all the information you need. We offer templates you can print to have your members update their household data and personal data.

You can also use a simple Google Form to digitally collect data. The information from that form can be exported to a Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet, so your church office staff can easily copy and paste the information or upload it to automatically update.

Here are some information fields we recommend collecting. Note that not all of these fields will need to be updated yearly.

  • Name
  • Household
  • Contact information
  • Profile picture
  • Church records (Baptism, marriage, confirmation, etc.)
  • Communication preferences (text, phone call, email, etc.)

Update Regularly

Encourage your members to submit updated information as soon as a change arises—for example, at the birth of a child or an address change.

However, it’s also good practice to advertise a churchwide update every spring. Think of it as spring cleaning for your database! Include this update in your weekly or monthly communications in the spring, and attach the templates linked above to make things easy for your members. You can also print out the templates and provide them on Sunday mornings for those who prefer to hand-write their information.

Protect Your Members’ Data

Last, it’s important to ensure that you protect your members’ data. Placing your digital church directory on a private page is a great start, but you also need to ensure that you protect that data in other ways. Here are some basic tips:

  • Don’t give out members’ information via phone, email, or text
  • Don’t publicly publish data
  • Don’t distribute your members’ email addresses to other organizations (such as a food pantry your church volunteers at)

Church360° Unite gives you a private web page to house your online directory—and it automatically connects to your Church360° Members information. Try it yourself with a free 30-day trial!

Start your free trial

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