If you're a believer who regularly attends church -- or if you are someone looking to find the perfect place of worship -- pause and ask yourself: What attributes attract you to specific churches? Is it music, political tone, programs or location that spark your interests? Of course, these are only some of the elements that generally lead people toward (or away) from specific houses of worship, as most individuals seek out communities that fit their wants and needs.
In today's world, there are so many denominations and church types that making a decision can be daunting -- a process that some might even find discouraging. This is where FaithStreet comes in, an interactive web site that allows users to search for churches using a plethora of indicators.
Photo Credit: FaithStreet.com
After looking by location, users can narrow down their options by searching for houses of worship that are tailored to their likes and needs. Also, the site helps churches by providing them with an online presence and helping them harness the power of the web -- something that many faith communities have not yet mastered. The nifty web site concisely describes its mission:
FaithStreet is a digital outreach platform for churches. Before FaithStreet, churches struggled to reach people looking for a new church online. Now, FaithStreet gives churches a beautiful web presence, where people will find and connect with them every day!
As of Dec. 23, FaithStreet currently lists nearly 10,400 churches located in 3,352 cities across America -- paving the way to easily helping millions of Americans easily find a Christian house of worship.
A screen shot from FaithStreet.com
TheBlaze previously described the effort as "Yelp meets Match.com meets the Yellow Pages" -- an assessment that combines all of its useful features. In September 2011, when we first featured the start-up, founder Sean Coughlin (he co-founded the site along with Ryan Melogy) noted that the platform was exclusively for New York City's church community, however it has expanded nationally over the past few months and is quickly gaining steam.
The concept -- a novel one -- is relatively simple, which makes it all the more applicable and useful.
"If you're a church leader, you can create a basic profile of your church -- pictures, member testimonials, service times and information -- characteristics about your church [and] what it believes," he told TheBlaze.
On the flip side, if you're looking for a place to worship, think of FaithStreet as the ultimate search engine for finding the perfect fit for your sensibilities. After all, the web site's founders believe wholeheartedly that there is a specific church available for everyone -- it's just a matter of finding it.
"We connect people to churches based on the kind of network they're a part of," Coughlin said. "A lot of people are looking for a church that's more conservative or progressive. Our goal is to build out search to better match peoples' personalities."
The FaithStreet co-founder shared with TheBlaze some of the top reasons, based on his research thus far, that Americans choose houses of worship. Among them: the type of music that is offered, language, the vibe (i.e. the look and feel of the church and congregation) and programs. All of this information -- and more -- can be found on FaithStreet's individual church profiles (here's an example).
Screen shots of testimonials on the FaithStreet.com web site
Not long ago, Coughlin left a career in law to launch FaithStreet and has been working fervently since its inception to spread the word about the useful tool. Discussing the challenges and benefits of running such a unique start-up, he said at first his parents were skeptical (after all, leaving a secure law career for something that might not be so lucrative and stable was a challenge) but now are immensely supportive.
"I think they were a little skeptical when I left a job making six figures [to create] a tech start-up that focuses on churches -- which is a little bit hard for them to understand," Coughlin said. "But now they're thrilled. They are faithful people themselves, so I think they understand the impact of what we're doing."
And thrilled they should be. FaithStreet is rapidly growing, as the site connects Americans with churches across the country. Looking for a place to attend church on Christmas Eve? Considering using the tool to locate a worship location in your area.