If you are a church leader there will probably come a time when a member asks you about a church member business directory.
Salespeople are trained to make connections and look for sales opportunities everywhere they go.
Often, members will target people they go to church with because of the easy access to prospective clients.
This can seem like a good idea for business people in the church because they have a passion for their product and want to share it with others.
However, creating a business directory has the potential to create problems for church members and ultimately church leadership.
It is important to know how to handle this kind of request and establish a policy and procedure for your church.
4 Things To Consider
Church leaders put a lot of emphasis on confidentiality in the church because they understand the complexities of dealing with the lives of people in their care.
We know that most business transactions require gathering some sort of personal information.
It may information about finances, simple demographic, or family information.
Regardless, ensuring that personal information is kept confidential should always be the priority.
Understanding that sometimes there is information that should not be shared with other church members.
2. Obnoxious Sales People
People attend church as a way to connect with God, strengthen their faith, and fellowship with people with shared beliefs and values.
Salespeople are trained to achieve sales goals. Unfortunately, sometimes those well-trained, die-hard salespeople can be relentless in their pursuit of a sale.
This can create an awkward moment and annoying situation for people who interact with them.
No one wants to be badgered by a persistent salesperson, particularly when they are at church.
3. Church Endorsement
Be aware that a church business directory may be sending an unintended message.
No matter the business, the church needs to be cautious about sending a message or endorsing any business or person.
This misperception can lead to all kinds of problems so make a point of providing clear communication about the church not endorsing any member-run business.
4. Maintaining Current Information
Member directories can be complex and an administrative nightmare with regards to collecting information and ensuring information is accurate and up to date.
Additionally, this may not be the best use of a church’s limited resources.
As church leaders, we want to assist our church members when we can so it is important to think through solutions that can benefit all parties.
Create a Business Page On Church Website
Add a church member business page to your website where members can create an account and a business profile page.
There should be a disclaimer and an agreement with all members using this page that if someone creates an account and completes a profile, they are basically giving permission for other members to view their business profile.
This means that if they choose to create an account, they are giving permission to be solicited from others. If they don’t want to be solicited, they should not list their business.
This would limit the solicitation of people within this group.
It is also important to make it very clear on the business page what its intent is and that the page is solely for the purpose of business people to network with each other and make connections.
Create a Business Members Group
Another option would be to create a group for business people and allow them to meet monthly or quarterly to exchange business cards, share information, and network.
You can also use this group to develop and train others on business skills.
Try to make sure that the group understands the expectation to keep to themselves and not impose sales on church members outside of this group.
As church leaders, we don’t want to stand in the way of relationship building but no one wants to feel like they need to hide in the church from that annoying salesman. Finding the balance can prove to be a win-win for both parties.
How does your church handle these kinds of requests?