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Aug 02, 2013 | Luke Blount

St. Cyprian's Turns to Online App for Church Directory

Instant Church Directory is a nifty new application
available for churches of any size

Facing a tight budget and the ever-looming task of putting together a church directory, Catherine Roberts, parish administrator of St. Cyprian's, Lufkin, suggested the directory be put online. After some research, the church decided to use a service called Instant Church Directory™, which securely stores member information online and makes it available to all members via mobile application.


The system allows churches to upload their membership information. Then, members are able to download an app and access their church directory via their mobile devices. Only members are allowed to access the directory, and they must verify their device via secure email.


"It's pretty simple to set up," Roberts said. "You have to upload an excel file into their system ... I had to export our ACS into an excel file and make some modifications, and then I uploaded it. We only have 200 families, so then I went in and edited everything and uploaded some pictures, which went very quickly, actually."


Before St. Cyprian's settled on this solution, they looked into traditional church directory services, and discovered it would cost close to $3000, without the cost of taking photos. Instant Church Directory only costs $70 per year for the church, and the service is free for church members. Now, anyone with a smartphone, tablet or even a Kindle can access the church's directory at anytime, from anywhere.


Roberts does conceed that this is not a great solution for every member. The directory is not yet easily accessible via the web, only through the mobile apps. And even if it were more accessible via the web, some members still aren't comfortable with the internet or computers. Roberts estimates that the church will still need to print out hard copies of the directory or send out digital PDFs for 10-15 percent of the church families without smartphones or tablets. "But since this service is new and the developers continue to work on it, I suspect it will be available on other platforms in the near future," she said.


The system can be updated as often as needed, which is another advantage over the print directory. If the church gains new members or if a current member moves or changes their phone number, then that information can be added at anytime. St. Cyprian's is planning to update their directory with changes every six months with new information, as to not overwhelm Roberts and the small staff with constant updates to several databases.


Still, Roberts is proud of the new tool. "It has easily saved us thousands of dollars, and it will be more current for our members," she said. "For someone that just wants a quick phone number, I think it's great."


The system may also serve another use in the event of a disaster. If a paper directory is not available or left behind in the event of an evacuation, the entire congregation would have access to contact information in their purse or pocket. The directory app stores the information on the mobile device, so it can be accessed when your mobile device is online or offline. If cell service or internet access is not available, the information can still be accessed as long as the device has power.


"We are cutting edge out here in Lufkin," Roberts joked. "This isn't yet the gold standard, but it is a silver standard."


-Catherine Roberts has generously offered to speak with anyone interested in implementing the same program. St. Cyprian's phone number is 936.639.1253. Or visit to learn more.