Monday Morning Insights

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    Church Shopping Website Launches

    Church Shopping Website Launches

    You know I love press releases.  Here's one I received yesterday.  My question.  Great idea or one of the worst ever?  You decide...

    Here's the press release:

    Visionaries and owners Chad and Stephani Olson explain that with the Internet becoming the standard for gaining information, helps American families find the most compatible home church based on important areas of preference, including, denomination, location, preaching and music style, ministries offered and more.

    Using sophisticated search engines, Churchshoppers allows searchers to enter criterion based on a variety of preferences. Search results are provided from a base of over 100,000 churches and ministries of all denominations. Their results provide complete profiles of the churches, including web addresses, photo images and even a video welcome message from the Pastor.

    In addition, churches may make use of Churchshoppers directory at very affordable rates. Services to churches include a detailed church profile with audio and visual capabilities, quarterly traffic inquiry report upon request, monthly E-zines on church marketing and growth, Google mapping features, as well as special online forums on church marketing “Our mission is to match individuals and families to the church that best fits their personal preferences and spiritual compatibilities and in turn see Bible believing churches grow and flourish. We are not the typical Church Directory, but more like a match making site, pairing the right people to the right church,” says Olson.

    Visitors to will find the site easily because of its high visibility through national and local search engine phrase/optimization, along with a host of community link sources which provide visitors to the site with a user-friendly means of searching for a church.’s focus is to help those people who are away from home, re-locating to a new area, or simply need a fresh start, narrow down the field from hundreds of churches to a select group of churches with whom they share deep levels of compatibility.

    So... great idea or horrible one?

    Would your church utilize or pay for such a service?

    Would this service be more for people looking to change churches, or seekers looking to find a first-time church?




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    1. Marcus Lynn on Tue, September 21, 2010

      YES!  Let’s perpetuate consumerism in the Church!  Of course people aren’t “compatible” with every church but this “” for Christians and churches seems a little over the top.  I don’t think we’ll be using it.

    2. Jerry on Tue, September 21, 2010

      Are you sure this isn’t Friday? This reminds me of something you would find on

    3. beth g sanders on Tue, September 21, 2010

      At first I thought this was some sort of joke.

      But ... no.

      To pick and choose based on our superficial preferences is the antithesis of church. Church is about worship, about serving — others, not ourselves. Yes, it’s about community and relationship, but neither of those can flourish when have our own wants/needs and preferences in mind.

    4. Tom Doyle on Tue, September 21, 2010

      Not that I love the idea, however maybe the church needs to realize we live in a “CONSUMER” driven world.  (Please don’t blame me, I’m just saying) and this kind of website does connect consumers with churches, so that is a good thing.

    5. beth g sanders on Tue, September 21, 2010

      No blame here - and I do see that point of view. I’ll be the first to say that we must be relevant and shed the churchese and stereotypes to reach those outside our four walls.

      But I think we must do it with integrity. To offer the opportunity to “shop” tells the consumer, “it’s about you,” when, in fact, it’s not. My concern is that they’ll be disenchanted when they realize otherwise.

      Not to mention, I see disgruntled church members using it as leverage to get their way on the style of music/color of sanctuary carpet debate.

      Not saying it shouldn’t exist - just that it ... gives me the icks.

    6. bishopdave on Tue, September 21, 2010

      I think the Holy Spirit will really appreciate the help, and lead people to that web site. Makes His job easier. Divine outsourcing?

    7. Marcus Lynn on Tue, September 21, 2010

      Tom, you’re right that it is a consumer-driven world and we play a part in that but I think your last phrase says a lot, “ does connect consumers with churches, so that is a good thing.”  So people who come to church are merely consumers consuming what?  A good experience?  A nifty preacher?  Good youth programs?  A site like that might help people sort through obvious things like denomination preference and I don’t have fault with that but it really won’t tell anyone if they are a good fit.  “Yeah, we have excellent youth programs here.”  Then they show up and don’t like the leadership or something else because they consume it.

    8. John Burton on Tue, September 21, 2010

      We as pastors and leaders have perpetuated the problem of consumerism in the church. It’s a fine line… we need to be excellent, we need to minister well… but, we can’t try to sell the best experience so we can get the most people in the seats.

      It’s so easy to compromise… the end goal of people in the church makes a little compromise seem to be worth it.

      The reality is that the call to the church is a costly one. It’s a call to death that leads to life. It’s a call to sacrifice and offering.

      When’s the last time we saw a church lead with that advertising focus? “Come to our church where you’ll die to self, discover God, sacrifice greatly, change lives and experience a challenging and often inconvenient… and even offensive… call to surrender and action.”

    9. Peter Hamm on Tue, September 21, 2010

      Basically, not the worst idea ever, but definitely in the top 10.

    10. Trevor Hamaker on Tue, September 21, 2010

      The website mentioned in the post simply facilitates what we ALL do anyway. Whether you’re a pastor in search of a congregation or a seeker in search of a congregation, we ALL have certain criterion by which we assess our compatibility with a given church. Some things are “deal-breakers” while other things are tolerable; and what one person thinks is tolerable another person thinks is a deal-breaker.

      Given the many church buildings that most of us pass on the way to the particular church that we’ve elected to be part of, I don’t see how anyone can act like the site in question is out of place or “sacrificing the church on the altar of consumerism.”

      Every time someone stands up and makes announcements at church or points people to see the upcoming events in the bulletin, they are engaging in marketing (whether they know it or not). The idea is that these events, more than other ones (which the church chose not to host), will draw people and provide them with a favorable experience as a result of having been there.

      To put this to the test, ask yourself:
      Why did my church use the theme it did for last summer’s Vacation Bible School?

      If you answer honestly, it’s because that theme/curriculum promised a greater appeal to those kids/families that you hoped would attend and “consume” the event.

      Beyond that, there is no difference in paying to have a church listed on that site and paying to have a church listed in the Yellow Pages.

      Would I pay for a listing on the site?
      No. This isn’t the first site to offer such a “service” for people who are “shopping” for a church. The others have not had the web-traffic necessary to justify spending the money for a listing, so I don’t really expect this one will be any different…although (as with anything) I could be wrong.

    11. Lee on Tue, September 21, 2010

      Yes,  just what we need: conform to the standards of the world.  Very Biblical practice.  Maybe if Jesus realized what kind of world he lived in he would have been able to avoid all of that crucifixion business.

      You do not shop for a church, you do not “do” church as some advertise, you ARE the Church because of Christ’s work on the cross which is sometimes not pretty, popular or in demand in a market driven economy.

    12. Jeremy Brown on Tue, September 21, 2010

      2 thoughts…

      1.  Part of what we do is reach people where they are, but love them enough not to leave them there… it’s pretty crappy to say that we don’t want people who are looking for a church that “fits” them… also pretty crappy to pick up a guitar and drums (or at least the sticks) in the name of effective, culturally relevant worship and then whine when people look for a church based on that kind of element.

      2.  I will be interested to see how many of the haters will list their church on something like this when it catches on… having recently looked for a church to attend that would fit our family during the time between moving to TN and the launch of our new church - something like this would have kept us from some pretty lame Sundays…

      just sayin’


    13. Tom Doyle on Tue, September 21, 2010

      Amen Jeremy couldn’t have said it better…...good luck with the new church

    14. Lee on Tue, September 21, 2010

      “culturally relevant worship”  If it proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching of the Word and administration of the Sacraments then it is “culturally relevant” whether or not it is done with Gregorian Chants, Kazoos or an electric guitar.  Worship is not “relevant” just because the musical styles are more or less likely to be on your I-PAD.  It is relevant because Christ’s work on the cross made it relevant.

    15. Jesse Orndorff on Tue, September 21, 2010

      As someone who moves on a regular (yearly) basis, this wouldn’t be too bad of an idea.

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