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Why ChurchRater.com Is A Bad Idea

Over the next 2 days we’ll be looking at and talking about a new website named “ChurchRater.com“. I fear that too often I just share my opinion on this blog without allowing for the opposite side of the spectrum to be voiced. So, today I’ll be posting on why I believe this website and others like it are a very bad idea for Christianity and the church. Tomorrow Kurt will be posting about how this could be a very good thing for Christianity and the church. For those of you unfamiliar with the website and its purpose, here is an interesting article about it and here is a video run by a Seattle news channel on how it works:

(Come watch here if you can’t see the video RSS readers)

Why This Is A Bad Idea (By Tyler)

One of the hardest parts of my job as a worship leader is providing musical and non-musical ways to worship God that a large cross section of people can engage with. Rarely does a weekend go by when I don’t hear complaints about something. It could be a song, it could be the volume, it could be how I’m dressed. You name it, I’ve heard it. I call this the consumer culture in the church and nothing about it is good.

All of that is what comes to mind when I think about the premise behind Churchrater.com. I don’t have any issues with the guys behind the website, I truly believe their intentions are great, but the ramifications of this are not.

Why this is bad:

  • It reinforces the idea that our consumerist ideas with church are good. We’ve taken the approach we have in the shopping mall and transferred it to the church without realizing what we are doing. I’ve said a lot, “what we win people with, we win them to.” If we are “winning people” to a culture where bigger is better…doesn’t it all break down eventually? Maybe we’re already seeing that.
  • It changes our perspective to church being a quality performance instead of a community to engage with. A church that puts on a great show might be fun to attend for a week, but people are going to stay at a church based on the relationships that are built. That is immeasurable.
  • It assumes that all people want and expect the same things out of church. I understand that part of human-nature is to critique things and each of us has our own preferences for how things are done, including church. But what I can guarantee is that each of us has completely different expectations of what church should be like.
  • It values methodology much more than theology. People are going to be critical of the way things are done, instead of the message behind them. Rather than valuing a church with a strong theological base, we tend to prefer a great band and an interesting message.

Anything you would add to this list or additional thoughts on ChurchRater?

(Head over here to check out the post on why this might be a great idea.)

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  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    Yeah, the ChurchRater concept sort of scares me. First of all, I don’t think we should be shopping for churches the way we shop for the right hotel to stay in during a vacation. I don’t think the kinds of things that are *right* about a church can be neatly categorized and formulated.

    Secondly, churches seem homogeneous enough all on their own. Certain types of people gravitate toward certain types of churches (depending on music, teaching style, location, etc.), which really prevents us from having the kind of community Jesus modeled with his disciples. Maybe we should be thinking first about how we can intentionally form community with people different from us, rather than worrying about the “right fit” for me, as an individual.

    Looking forward to seeing the other side of this issue (but have a hard time believing I’ll be convinced of anything!).

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

    I agree with you, and that was before I read what you had to say.

    I wanted to form my own opinion before being shaped by yours so I wrote this below before reading your thoughts:

    I would tend to say it is not a good thing because it brings about the idea that the church is an actual building, a service, music, preaching, etc…
    The problem I see here is that it is taking this in as a equation of how to do things. If this person says we need to have blue walls then that means that is what will make us successful. Making people happy and entertained seem to be at the core of all of this.

    Okay now that I have read what you had to say, I am with you. I will wait until tomorrow and read the opposite of the argument. But I think you hit the nail on the head.

  • http://www.danceswithklingons.wordpress.com Steven

    I had to laugh out loud at how funny the whole concept is!
    Why don’t we just do an “American Idol” version and text who we want “out” and who will win.

    I have no problem with people doing this, but it really doesn’t do anyone any good. We are all humans on a journey to become hue-man, what I consider the way God intends HIS creation to be.

    Many attempt to figure this out, many do fail, even I’m not sure I’ve got it all right.

    But the way of DOING church is changing again. Each facet of Christ, NOT the religion called Christianity shows how deep, and wonderful the one we call Father really is.

  • http://mikeymo1741.blogspot.com Mike Mahoney

    I think you’ve hit it on the head, Tyler. Can’t wait to see the other side.

  • http://www.iheartbrad.com Brad Gross

    I couldn’t agree more with you! I might even go a step further and say that the whole ChurchRater.com thing is RIDICULOUS!!! I mean, seriously?! Maybe we should all just rate the person next to us and the “quality” of their worship during the service, that way people can get a feel for a congregations worship as a whole….WTF?!

    Silly, just silly to me.

  • http://www.justlivingthelife.com Jay Caruso

    Tyler, you’d probably find this interesting as it has to do with Church Rater.

    http://blog.buckheadchurch.org/2010/02/23/hiring-atheists/

  • http://sammahlstadt.com Sam Mahlstadt

    Here is my question: What happened to the local church being a gathering of local believers who got together to further the message of Jesus?
    This is absolutely insane – consumer-driven to say the LEAST. Maybe the problem is that local churches over-identify with business models, and see each other as competition.

    • http://www.stretchmarkmama.com Stretch Mark Mama

      Yes, the competition thing drives me nuts.

  • Tammy

    You are so right about how different people have different expectations about what church should be like. I also don’t think as Christians, we shouldn’t be criticizing another person’s way of worshiping Christ. We should lift one another up. Heaven knows, as Christians we already have enough persecution in the world without doing it to ourselves.

  • http://www.contentunderpressure.net Josh

    I’m going to try and not judge tomorrow’s post before I see it, since I’m trying to be more like Christ and all. No guarantees, though, as I’m a work in progress… :)

    I’m sure there are worse practices out there than this. But, this is surely on the list.

  • http://brenthodge.com brent(inWorship)

    Ill be looking forward to Kurt’s response on this.

    Curious how he will perceive that this can be good…

  • http://blog.alexandari.com Jennifer

    I’m looking forward to the post tomorrow – because I can see the value to it.
    We have been discussing doing something somewhat similar at our small church just to keep tabs on how we are treating others that come. Being a small church there is a tendency to be a bit more “click-ish” than we want to, and getting an “outsider’s” perspective can help us see if there are ways that we can improve that.
    However I also see that hiring athiest’s may not be the best tactic… something tells me they may not enjoy any part of a church service – even if they are being paid to do it.

  • http://www.stretchmarkmama.com Stretch Mark Mama

    Oh, you know that the consumerism thing burns my biscuits.

    However, being a survey-making stat-loving analytical, systematic, fix-the-problem kind of gal, I can see where the evaluations could be helpful (to the leaders of the church). But not so much to put them on a “yelp” style of website.

  • http://www.churchrater.com TylerM

    Hey Tyler, love the balanced approach man. Very rare on the blogosphere to see this kind of virtue, so I must say props. I look forward to your analysis on tomorrow. I’ll hold my opinion till both sides come out. Love the dialogue guys!

    Co-Founder of Churchrater.com

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  • Shellie (baylormum)

    All I can see after reading both sides & looking at their website is columns of check marks. Yes or No for available services? And who will control the ratings if the person commenting is a disgruntled church goer?

    I think it comes down to word of mouth, trying it for yourself, and lots of prayer. Check marks just don’t tell the whole story.

  • J. T.

    If you are an atheist, agnostic, or otherwise unchurched, and you go to a church where you feel unwelcomed, avoided, not reached out to, you don’t like the music or the lighting or the way people dress or act or talk,
    Are you likely to return?
    Is your heart going to be open to the Good News?
    Is there really a chance that your relationship w/ Jesus Christ is going to grow as a result?
    No!
    This means that, while our “consumerist ideas with church” may not be “good”, they are in many cases the only — or perhaps merely the most expedient — way to reach someone for Christ. The rest of your points I wholly disagree with, Tyler.
    It doesn’t change our perspective, or more appropriately, each of our perspectives. If people don’t attend once – or regularly – they’re not going to meet folks and start building relationships. If the door isn’t open, they can’t walk through.
    It makes no such assumption about the homogeneity of wants and/or expectations. In fact, churchrater.com appears to be a place where people speak (or blog, or whatever) freely about their own individual experiences, whether that appealed to them or not and why, enabling subsequent readers to use the experiences and information (or misinformation) of others to make (mis?)informed decisions on how they’re going to spend this Sunday morning as they contemplate how they’re going to spend Eternity!
    Finally, I don’t see how it values methodology over theology, necessarily. Certainly there will be some of that, as you admittedly experience weekly despite your best efforts. How, as the tool that it is, is this a bad thing? Again, if the method doesn’t work, then the message, the theology, does not stand a chance to reach its target.

    • http://theycallmepastorbryan.com theycallmepastorbryan

      With all due respect, how often are atheists and people outside the Christian faith really wandering into our gatherings and evaluating the quality of the music, etc as their reason for being there? My bet is that it’s altogether more likely that this service will be for church shoppers than it is for seekers.

      In my experience and with the people I know, the last place spiritual seekers are thinking they will find answers is church.

  • http://www.secondchair.wordpress.com Joe Donaldson

    Just wondering if there might be any value in a site like this for people who are new to a community and looking for a church. With so many church buildings and the dropping of denominational labels (a good thing, in my opinion) people may be at a disadvantage when looking for a church that is consistent with their basic beliefs and values. Most people who visit our church visit our website first to check us out and I’m sure they look at other church’s sites too. They are conducting their own market research. Is that bad? Probably, but we all have websites and try to put our best foot forward on them. Haven’t you ever told a person that they’re not going to like your church because of the way you do something or because of their preference? I have. I once told a guy on the phone who told me about his very oppressive church environment that he needed to find another church but we probably weren’t that church for him. (He was an only hymns, only KJV guy.) He attended for a while and then agreed. He landed in another church that ministered to him and where he served with joy. Maybe a service like churchrater could have been useful to him.

    • http://www.movement77.weebly.com Melissa

      Joe, your wonderings are correct. From a military family that is obliged to move every year or 2 and thus forced to find a new church ChurchRater does in fact hold value. Some of us don’t inherite a ‘church for life’ and finding a new church every couple of years is hard, really hard. This kind of church review has been going on in military family chat rooms and message boards for years and years. ChurchRater is a tool I will use to help me find a church and that has value to me and to the church.

      • http://www.churchrater.com Jim Henderson

        Melissa

        thanks for speaking up for ChurchRater and please visit our site and rate churches as you move around military bases and encourage your military friends

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