When my family moved twelve years ago, before Internet browsing was an everyday part of life, I conducted an online search for churches. Finding listings for churches was not as easy as I’d hoped, and I ended up making phone calls and asking friends.
Today, thankfully, finding a church is much easier. Faithstreet.com, a website launched in 2011, rocketed off the startup pad and already lists almost 13,000 Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic churches across the United States. Faithstreet’s goal is to help users find churches near where they live. Churches can create a profile page for free and are included in Faithstreet’s database. When I searched my city, 28 churches popped up. I was surprised since I live in the Bible Belt and there are far more churches in my hometown, but Faithstreet is still fairly new and busily dedicated to signing up churches.
Profiled in the September 2013 issue of Christianity Today, Faithstreet is growing quickly. Using a unique revenue model, they encourage churches to first create a free profile and then consider setting up online giving for their membership through the Faithstreet site. Churches can also pay for more premium services. Faithstreet takes a cut of online gifts and earns money from the services provided above the free account level. Either way, churches win; they get an easily-searchable listing and a method to accept online giving. Users win by having a desktop and mobile method for browsing church profiles and finding a church near them. And both users and churches can sign up manually or with a Facebook account.
And bonus – Faithstreet has acquired the religious blog of the Washington Post, OnFaith. In the announcement of the partnership between Faithstreet and OnFaith, the editor, Patton Dodd, states that OnFaith is particularly interested in communities and the religious stories that happen in them. The new OnFaith site is scheduled to debut in late January, and Dodd is seeking new voices to add to the professional writers already attached to OnFaith. You can sign up as a potential contributor on the Faithstreet site, under the OnFaith link.
Faithstreet isn’t necessarily offering a new service – online directories for churches like churchfinder.com and usachurches.org have been around for a few years now, but Faithstreet is the first to combine free publicity with a service churches need. And by pairing their site with a respected religion blog, they will become a substantial content provider as well.
In the end, the real winners are the families and individuals moving to a new place who want to find a church. Faithstreet has made that process a pleasure.
Susan is an associate professor at Mercer University. In Mercer’s Technical Communication undergraduate degree, students can specialize in Ministry Media & Technology. Contact Susan anytime for more information at [email protected].