Southern Baptist Directory Services to be Internet-accessible to churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Effective with the 2001 Annual Church Profile process, churches can have access to Southern Baptist Directory Services, a secure Internet application for gaining a wide variety of statistical and leadership information.

Cliff Tharp, coordinator for Annual Church Profile and constituent information at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, noted, "The whole purpose of SBDS is to provide access to information and encourage churches and associations to use it. While the SBDS will be used to collect the ACP information, it is more than the ACP."

Because SBDS contains 21 years of church data, Tharp said, churches will be able to generate a multi-year statistical history of their church. Through use of the directory feature, they could look up the name and address of a pastor or staff member of another church. They could identify other churches with similar growth patterns.

"Most of the information in SBDS is in the public domain and available in places such as state convention annuals," Tharp said. "But SBDS brings it together in one place to make it easier to access and use."

He emphasized that "SBDS is not accessible by the general public. The website is protected, and access will only be available with a username and password."

For the 32 state conventions participating in SBDS, usernames and passwords are being provided to churches with ACP packets. Churches affiliated with non-participating state conventions are not receiving usernames and passwords with ACP material. Information will be provided at a later time for these congregations to access SBDS. Associations in non-participating state conventions may request access information by contacting the SBDS administrator at sbds.admin@lifeway.com.

Tharp cited numerous benefits to SBDS, beginning with the fact that SBDS maintains in one place all of the affiliations that exist among the congregations, associations, state conventions and the SBC. Also, churches need to enter their data only one time with a uniform collection form.

The quality of data in SBDS, such as postal addresses, is verified for accuracy, Tharp noted. Churches can enter staff and leadership information whenever changes occur rather than only once a year. They also can access the data anytime and anywhere with Internet access.

Over time, additional information will become available through SBDS, he said. For example, he noted that five associations in Oklahoma are prototyping collection of VBS statistics, which could become an added feature of the service.


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