Should church directories include theological positions?

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Bob Pritchett | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Aug 25 2017 8:13 AM

...and other questions.

If you were looking for a church, what would you want to know? When you moved to town, what information helped you choose (or not choose!) a church? What would you want people to know about your church if they just moved to town?

Sure, many people watch sermons online, visit, ask friends, or talk with the pastor, when choosing a church.

But if you move to a new town with 75 churches, I assume some filters / information would help you in your search. You aren't likely to attend (or take the time to watch sermons) from a church that takes the opposite theological position on an issue important to you; you may want to be sure you pick a church where there's a particular program or ministry you are passionate about.

What else do you want to know?

Please add comments to this Google doc, or post replies below.

Thank you!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qivqo6cTvVtEq0-aCCS7rsgKM-tH0qXaMA20vfHld_k/edit

(P.S. This is because we're looking to add functionality to Faithlife to help people find churches; we want to know what you'd want to know from that directory.)

Posts 11433
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 8:46 AM

No offense but don't do google docs, etc. Behind the times.

We did a directory for Sedona. The goal was to shift visitor departure times a little later on Sundays. Encourage the local churches.

But goodness. The Lutherans were pretty specific. The fundementalists were justifiably suspicious. The trick was letting each church define (most) and being gracious on the remainder. The big danger is dividing with no benefit.

Added: Also we embedded the 'theology' inside welcoming messages. Each denomination has key words, by which members can find their group.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

Posts 1107
EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 10:06 AM

I would start with denominational affiliation by tradition/family, using something like the classification that Pew uses for their religious landscape survey.  The categorization they use for Protestants starts on page 103 of their report. That isn't perfect, but it would go a long way towards orienting someone to the different congregations in their area. It would also be easier than trying to collect detailed information on multiple theological issues. My experience with church directories is that you often get incomplete information, and it quickly becomes out of date.  I just imagine what our church secretary would do if a detailed survey of our theological positions came in from an organization the congregation itself doesn't have any connection to. There's a good chance it would never make it onto her priority list - and even if it did, I have doubts about whether the responses would be as complete, accurate and useful as one might hope.  Theological sophistication isn't part of the job description for that position.

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 10:20 AM

EastTN:

I would start with denominational affiliation by tradition/family, using something like the classification that Pew uses for their religious landscape survey.  The categorization they use for Protestants starts on page 103 of their report. That isn't perfect, but it would go a long way towards orienting someone to the different congregations in their area. It would also be easier than trying to collect detailed information on multiple theological issues. My experience with church directories is that you often get incomplete information, and it quickly becomes out of date.  I just imagine what our church secretary would do if a detailed survey of our theological positions came in from an organization the congregation itself doesn't have any connection to. There's a good chance it would never make it onto her priority list - and even if it did, I have doubts about whether the responses would be as complete, accurate and useful as one might hope.  Theological sophistication isn't part of the job description for that position.

Yep. Secretaries were not in the picture. In one, they had an elder meeting. It's a sensitive subject for the variations.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

Posts 1107
EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 10:40 AM

Denise,

It sounds like you were involved in a local effort where a personal contact could be made with each congregation.  It would be a lot of effort, but I can see how that could allow you to reach the right people to ask about theological views - and persuade them to participate. 

I just don't see that scaling to work for an organization like FaithLife that isn't local.

Posts 11433
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 10:53 AM

EastTN, I agree completely. But the alternatives are really touchy. In the south, it's really touch and go.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

Posts 386
James Chandler | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 11:32 AM

I begin with the denomination. But that is not where I end, even amongst my preferred denomination there are those whose viewpoints I don't agree with. So then I check their statement of faith. 

Running on ASUS Windows 10 I7 24 gig of ram, 1 Terabyte drive.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

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abondservant | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 12:04 PM

Sure, that would be interesting. If I were looking for a church, there are things you look for as has been mentioned.

Sovereignty for instance mentioned anywhere in a baptist churches ad would catch my eye. Whereas landmark or free will, or church names that are too long (often an indication of a certain tradition eg: first baptist church of the holy spirits holy fire and friendship and prophecy of the rapture apostolic church of the next level healing maranatha of the rock church. Apologies in advance if anyone's church is actually named that).

L2 lvl4 (...) WORDsearch, L9

Posts 826
JRS | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 1:55 PM

Just a few quick thoughts ... I would like to know where a church landed on a set of continuums:

Worship service style:   Happy-Clappy and/or Huggy-Huggy <-----> Church is an entertainment venue with the minister acting as the Master of Ceremonies at the Church's Got Talent program every Sunday morning <-----> Careful exegesis/exposition of the Word is central   

Music style:  Hillsong Rave <-----> All 23 verses of God Is So Good and other ditties accompanied by the 48 member praise band <-----> Piano or organ w/ a carefully selected hymnal for congregational singing <-----> A Cappella Psalm singing only

Preaching emphasis:  Our Daily Crumb (let's get this over with) <-----> Bible primarily is a handbook for Christian behavior <-----> Bible primarily tells us how to get things from God <-----> Bible primarily is God's revelation of Himself to man          Corollary: Emotions lead to knowledge/understanding (therefore, preach to get an emotional reaction) <-----> Knowledge/understanding is primary over and may lead to emotions (therefore, preach to the intellect and understanding)

Fellowship model: We will pry into every aspect of your life and make it a prayer item for the entire congregation <-----> It ain't Fellowship w/o food and we eat every time the doors are open <-----> Fellowship with other believers is a natural result of growing in Christ and in the Word (we don't artificially force it)

Statement of Faith: It's too embarrassing (plus we don't want to offend anyone) so we'll just skip it - instead, we'll try to wow you with the latest ecclesiastical and theological buzzwords <-----> 12 pages of fine print with citations from at least 6 different Confessions - in fact, if we could, we would live in the 16th century and speak Latin only.

JRS has left the building.

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 3:01 PM

Bob Pritchett:

...and other questions.

What would you want people to know about your church if they just moved to town?

We thought about that question when setting up our new website just over a year ago - http://tamworthbaptists.org.uk/  - and came up with some simple statements in a number of sections as indicated in the screenshot below .

From some one of the comments above I'm getting the sense it wouldn't satisfy everyone / provide the information they would be looking for

Posts 8129
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 25 2017 3:52 PM

 There is always the risk of upsetting someone by misrepresenting them. So it might not be a good idea for FL to get involved in that.

DAL

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