The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Episcopal Church partners with FaithStreet, a new congregational evangelism tool
[November 12, 2012] A partnership between the Episcopal Church and<http://publicaffairs.creat
esend1.com/t/r-l-kkkdjul-xllkl ittl-d/> FaithStreet paves the way for congregations to connect their church with church seekers through an innovative church locator that offers much more than a search engine.
"Our partnership with FaithStreet will give our congregations a new tool to promote their churches," commented Anne Rudig, Episcopal Church Director of Communication. "FaithStreet not only locates a church, but works with a congregation to present the mission and ministry done there in ways easily understood by a seeker. It goes beyond address and contact info to providing an ethos or 'vibe' of particular churches."
FaithStreet, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, currently showcases 3,580 churches in all 50 United States, in over 1,500 cities. This includes over 100 church networks and denominations representing churches of all sizes, ranging from five to 10,000 members.
"FaithStreet is a tech-startup that is making it easy for anyone to find and connect with a great Christian church in their area," explained Ryan Melogy, Co-Founder. "We're creating a personalized church discovery experience, where anyone will be able to find a great church for them."
Founded in 2011, FaithStreet experienced remarkable growth. By 2012 over 400 churches in New York City joined, and by September 2012, 3,100 churches outside NYC were participating.
"Churches will always be able to create a free profile on FaithStreet," noted Sean Coughlin, Chief Executive Officer. "In the future, FaithStreet will offer paid features, services, and advertising plans. These paid services will be always being optional, affordable and effective."
"FaithStreet gives churches a free, great-looking and easy-to-use web presence," concluded Glenn Ericksen, Chief Technical Officer.
For more information and to join FaithStreet: <http://publicaffairs.createse
This, of course, is code for the word Episcopalians are afraid to say: Evangelism.
We're afraid to say it because we, as a denomination, still really don't know what it means - or, how to do it.
It's sort of like "mission" - or, these days, "being missional" - which we talk about as some sort of "magic bean", if, when planted, will grow our congregations like Topsy and solve all of our financial woes because (this always makes me growl) "money follows mission".
These programs are almost always "easy" and "free" . This one goes beyond offering a mere "search engine" and "goes beyond address and contact info to providing an ethos or 'vibe' of particular churches."
Honest to Pete!
Can this program work? Is there no benefit to it?
I think the real "secret to the success" of this program is there, if you look for it. Here it is, right here:
"FaithStreet not only locates a church, but works with a congregation to present the mission and ministry done there in ways easily understood by a seeker."See? It's not the program - it's the product.
As Terri Parson, former national church officer for Stewardship and Evangelism at 815 and now numbered (too soon) among the saints, used to say, "You can't sell soap unless you bathe."
You can't "sell" something unless you believe in and use and enjoy your product.
If you have not identified your mission and ministry, if you do not believe in that mission and ministry with your whole heart, if you don't work it with enthusiasm and joy, no amount of "packaging" is going to attract people to you church.
And, I'm not talking just about the clergy. The whole congregation has to have clarity about their unique identity as a Body of Christ and are engaged in and enthusiastic about the particular mission and ministry God has called them to do.
The best evangelism is doing the work of mission. The best mission is that which responds to the needs of the community. The best evangelism and mission are the ones that are enthusiastically embraced and lived out by a community of faith.
The best feature of this program, according to the media release, is that it "works with a congregation to present the mission and ministry done there in ways easily understood by a seeker." So, if you are already doing great works in the name of Jesus and want to get the word out to a larger group of people...."seekers".... I suspect this program might just work well for you.
If, if, IF one assumes that there are lots of "seekers" out there. Somewhere. I'm not sure that's true. I think the 'bad evangelism horse' has been out of the 'church barn' for too many years.
Bowling Alone," combined with the forces of "secular humanism," "new age pop religion," and "self-help spirituality" have taken such a strong hold that many people have found a home in the fastest growing segment of American society: "spiritual but not religious".
Changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, television, computers, women’s roles and other factors have contributed to this decline, and yet the church as an institution still functions as if it were somewhere in the mid-1950s.
We put too much of our energy into "Building A Better Yesterday".
Can that trend be reversed?
But, please, please, PLEASE don't expect this program to do it for you.
The church has to change its assumptions and expectations about congregations.
It has to redefine what it means to be a "member" of a church. What does it say that some of the people in some of the groups that use the church building - 12-Step Programs, Day Care or Church School - are actually in the church more than some of its "members," some of whom give more to the church in "time, talent and treasure" than the "members" listed on its roles?
The church also has to redefine what it means by "ministry" and "mission". "Ministry" is not just about serving on the Vestry, Altar Guild and various church committees. It's not all about "Mother Church," which has to start showing some understanding and respect for - and embrace and celebration of - the ministry people do in their lives and in their work and in their families.
We have to start studying the "intersectionality" of ministry and mission and find ways to connect those things with the ministry of the church.
Yes, this means that diocesan staffs are going to have to change configuration. Indeed, it may mean that there are fewer "diocesan centers". Instead, diocesan ministry may need, more and more, to find itself in congregations.
That's going to mean that the church looks very, very different from the way it does today.
Which, I think is a good thing. A scary thing, to be sure, but a good thing if Christianity is to flourish. Notice I said "Christianity" and not "the church". I'm much more concerned about the former than I am the later.
That's not going to come from "programs". It's got to come from the heart.
I have a friend who says that the problem with church comes from the fact that, when we see people walking into church, we see dollar signs and symbols of success. Things will begin to change, he says, when we start seeing people as signs of the cross and symbols of resurrection and new life.
I think he's right.
That won't fit neatly into a "program" but it's a pretty powerful "ethos and vibe".