Church Rater is a website on which people are paid (or volunteer) to rate churches, and where churches can pay to have their services rated. Similar to Trip Advisor, where you can see customer reviews of hotel rooms, Church Rater provides what Jim calls “the unvarnished truth” about your local house of worship.
I’ve been a fan of Jim’s no-nonsense approach to Christianity for a long time, and was fortunate to have him as my mentor during the opening days of my own localized community, Monkfish Abbey. Now he and I continue to be on parallel paths as he works on-line with Church Rater with the tag line “finding a church that fits;” and I work on-line with Flock: Soulcare with Magpie Girl, where our motto is “finding a spirituality that fits.”
Today we’ll ask Jim a question about Church Rater, and find out why a person who doesn’t go to church would be in this particular game.
Q: Jim, it’s no big secret that you and I are not the most consistent church attendees in the world. In fact I can remember sitting with you at a bar once, cooking up an idea for a church that only met to make music and tell stories, required a support fee up front (instead of haphazard tithe), and didn’t meet at all during the Summer. Given your less-than-traditional approach to church, what makes you so passionate about helping Churches and church-goers make a good connection?
A: I parachuted into Christianity as a young adult. That means I have no cultural/familial affiliation with the Christian religion. I also have serious questions about what we call Christianity having anything to do with Jesus. However I have spent the majority of my adult life with Christians and have come to admire, respect and love many of them. I know they agree with me that the church needs to be a better place, a more open and welcoming place. They know that Jesus would find it hard to “go to church” if he were here or even be called a “Christian”.
ChurchRater is a mirror that we hold up firmly, respectfully and even lovingly. We invite the Church to take look and If they like what they see they can keep doing more of it , if they don’t they can change. We specialize in helping Christians see themselves through the eyes of Outsiders (a name we stole from David Kinnaman that is more polite than the more commonly used “lost” while still drawing a line of distinction Christians have mindlessly drawn to separate ourselves from “them”). I do this because I seek to follow Jesus who favored Outsiders and used them to provoke Insiders. That is my spiritual path.
I found Jim on a ladder, painting the side of my house. But you can find him at Off The Map, or get to know him by reading his books Jim and Caspar Go to Church, and Evangelism Without Additives. Keep an eye out for his upcoming books The Resignation of Eve– a series of interviews exploring how Women feel about church, Christianity and Christians; and The Outsider Interviews with Todd Hunter and Craig Spinks. Plus, find out about his interview with Ira Glass, and hear what Jim thinks my odds are for finding a church that will fit my particular bill by reading the full interview at Flock: Soulcare with Magpie Girl. Thanks for being here!