printed church directories

Printed Church Directories: What Makes a Successful One?

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

July 24, 2023

Many faith communities understand the importance of their members staying connected with one another outside of services or church activities. And printed church directories are the perfect way to do that because it not only provides an easy-to-use listing of members and their contact information, but it also is an inexpensive way to provide this timely and necessary information to congregants.

While many aspects of our lives have shifted online, printed church directories are an excellent tool to use that can even become cherished keepsakes for members to hold on to for years to come.

Printed Church Directories Help Your Congregation

Keeping in touch with one another throughout the week between services and church activities is a lot easier when members can access comprehensive printed church directories. But printed church directories can help attendees and even potential members with a variety of tasks, too.

Youth and children’s activities are easier to navigate with a directory so parents can be in contact with other parents, quickly access addresses or phone numbers, or even easily find group leadership information in a church directory. And congregants searching for leadership names and contact information can find what they need quickly in printed church directories.

Printed church directories can be a tool to assist newer members as they assimilate into a new church family as well. Church history or a church’s mission statement can be included in the directory so that new or potential members can better understand their new church home’s beliefs or tenets of faith. They also offer a way for new members to conveniently put names and faces together.

Printed church directories can also be very beneficial to members when connectivity is a concern. Since no online access is needed to access printed church directories, a printed book is helpful to members who do not utilize online databases or websites frequently, are not internet-savvy, or those without reliable online access.

The Basics: What to Include in Printed Church Directories

Deciding what to put into printed church directories ahead of time is a real time saver with an inclusive form.

Create a basic form for members to fill out to assist the directory manager and plan to collect them when pictures are taken or when photos are submitted for printed church directories, making it simple to put together a directory with complete information on each family or individual in the congregation.

  • Family Names: Including each member’s first and last name is an expectation in printed church directories. But organizers might consider asking if newly married couples would also like a maiden name included in their directory listing to help newer members make family connections with the book.
  • Addresses: Complete mailing addresses should be included in printed church directories. Rural congregations or churches with members in a large geographical area might also consider placing the county or other regional identifiers in their congregant listings as well to help members recognize a member’s location at a glance.
  • Contact Information: In addition to addresses, printed church directories should include multiple ways to contact members to help with communication as well as for organizing group activities within the church. Ask participants to provide at least one family email address and phone number for the family.
  • Important Dates: Each participant in printed church directories can also provide their birthday for publication, and most directories only include the month and day while excluding the year. Some printed church directories also provide members with wedding anniversary dates for participants wishing to share them.
  • Photos: A sometimes complicated part of printing a church directory is providing clear photographs of members within the pages. Some congregations opt to arrange for a professional photographer to take every photo while others encourage members to send in their own pictures. Printed church directories should include one picture of each family group or individual if possible.

Helpful Hints for an Effective Form:

1 Consider doubling up on the form’s usefulness by using the opportunity to ask members if they want to opt out (or in) to any church participation in printed church directories like having their name(s) included in any group sections in the book.

2 Provide a space for cell, home, and work phone numbers and a way to mark the primary email address for each family.

3 The form is a great spot to remind members that contact information in the directory should only be used for personal reasons. Doing so will reassure members that their personal information will be respected.

Extras That Will Increase Printed Church Directories Use

When undertaking a project like a church directory, many congregations decide to include additional content that will make the directory even more helpful for members of their congregation. Project managers may want to consider creating a section about the congregation’s or faith tradition’s history.

Printed church directories are a great location to introduce leadership team members to congregants since newer members may not know large teams or be familiar with their families. A directory can also list active groups or organizations within the church body. The directory can provide members with a general introduction to the group, names of those in charge of the organization or even a list of those who participate in the group.

Many churches also put a page about the congregation’s youth or children’s ministries in their directories. This section can give a general overview of the program, details about the typical activities that are offered and also introduce the leadership teams or teachers for each group.

Turn Your Printed Church Directories into a Keepsake

Many congregations printing a church directory often also incorporate other touches that turn their helpful book into a treasured keepsake for members.

  • A Calendar of Customary Activities is a great idea to include by churches that hold annual or regular events. A page listing the events or activities and when they are generally held (like “Fall Festival” instead of including a specific date) can be a great way to encourage future attendance.
  • Candid Shots of Congregants are a fun inclusion in a directory that can be limited to a single area of the book, added to group or event pages, or even placed strategically throughout the whole publication. Candid photos can be solicited by the project manager, or they can be intentionally created for use in the directory.
  • Education Information like details about a congregation’s preschool or Christian school can be a part of a directory, especially if the book contains candid photos of the attendees or of the program’s activities.
  • Favorite Bible Verses can be solicited from members when printing a church directory and including these can contribute to the book becoming a cherished reminder of their church family.
  • High-quality Photography will make your participants look great while adding to the professionalism of the finished directory. For any photos included in the directory, suggest that they are at least 300 Dpi to ensure that the pictures turn out crisp and clear after they have been digitally printed.
  •  Memorials might be a good idea for your directory if a cherished member was lost or if a beloved leadership member has left the congregation. Some churches choose to dedicate a page or more to memorials and include small photographs or personal notes about each person to make the page more meaningful.
  • Special Event Coverage can be blended into a church directory so that members can reflect back on meaningful church activities throughout the years. These pages can include photographs, quotes from attendees, or details about the important event.

Partner with a Trusted Printer

Undertaking a directory project can be overwhelming, but working with an experienced printing company like Publishing Xpress will help. And project managers can be assured that their directory will look beautiful because it will be made with quality materials when they entrust their church directory printing to the printing experts at Publishing Xpress.

The digital printing process allows for a quick turnaround for church directories so you can continue to build strong relationships within your congregation by making it easy and convenient to stay connected to your church family with your new directory.

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