The Christian Reformed Church Board of Trustees has voted to approve the production by the Synodical Services Office of a much-simplified and cost-effective version of the CRC Yearbook.
Even though various synods have required changes to the types of information to be gathered, much of which has been included in the printed Yearbook, the format of the book has for the most part remained the same for several decades.
The new Yearbook will include a concise directory of classes, churches, ordained ministers, and commissioned pastors, as well as denominational ministries and offices. This will be done with the intention of transitioning much of the information toward online-only information in the next one to four years.
There will, however, be a print version indefinitely.
Meanwhile, a range of statistics that were contained in the print version of the Yearbook will now be placed on the CRC website, which already makes some data from various sections of the Yearbook available.
Statistics moving to the website will include the “annual snapshot” of individual churches that shows numbers of professing members, baptized members, growth through evangelism and so forth.
These numbers have been used, and can still be used, for historical, tracking, and analytical purposes.
This change in the Yearbook composition comes as annual sales of the Yearbook “show a continued decline in the need for a printed directory of ever-changing denominational statistics,” says a report submitted to the BOT.
More and more, people are accessing this information on the CRCNA website. The Church Finder tool has become one of the most popular pages on the website, diminishing the need for also including church information in a printed directory.
The advantage to accessing the online CRC church information is that as soon as updates are received and entered into the database, the Church Finder is instantly updated, in comparison to a printed directory that is updated annually.
“The costs to produce this sizable book continue to increase and the revenue from sales of the Yearbook covers only a fraction of its development expenses,” says the report to the BOT.
The report was submitted by the Online Yearbook Team that conducted an in-depth study of issues involved in making the change.
The team’s report says the goal “was to develop a leaner version of the Yearbook that can be more cost effective while making the same data available, either by way of print or via the CRC website.”
The new, more concise CRC Yearbook will be published in early 2016, replacing the current format.