The basic idea is that when you move into a new community and need to find someplace to worship, now you can see what others are saying about the local churches. Interesting right? Then you quickly zigzag into the other associated questions. Who is writing the reviews? Why are they reviewing that church? All the same questions that businesses dealt with a few years ago.
If I run the hardware store on Main Street and my competitor writes a review saying I stink, well, such is life as a private business. With religion, there’s a lot more tied up. People call some churches cults, or certain pastors are singled out as oppressors. Should that type of stuff really be in a church review?
I’m a huge fan of Yelp style reviews, and I think that a site like ChurchRater.com is on to something. I also think that it will become a lightning rod.
When I moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina I had to find a new church, and it meant I had to spend a few weeks sitting in different parishes until I found one I liked. I would have appreciated a little guidance.
One of my favorite parts of the report was a quote from Dwight Friesen, who teaches theology at Mars Hill Graduate School. He says it reduces it to a sort of Ecclesiastical Bandstand, “Yeah it’s got a good sermon, easy to worship to. I’ll give it an 8.7.”
I think the problem stems from the plethora of terrible church websites. I look at my own church’s website and cringe at how terrible it is. If someone takes the time to keep up the church website, you’ll end up getting better, more targeted worshipers into your church, and less angry people who bash you at ChurchRater.com.
This is another case of a business that lagged to far behind the web, and the web hates a vacuum.
I’d love to hear your take on an open church rating system.
Photo by: Ed Yourdon