As a faith-based community organizer in New York City, I spend a great deal of time attempting to connect with churches, which can be a daunting task in a city with so many options. I also know as a Christian in New York City, finding a church can be difficult, leaving many unconnected. I have also heard similar sentiments expressed by friends in other areas of the country. Of course I would suggest you pray for guidance in searching for a spiritual community, but God can also work through the body of Christ to provide practical tools for your search.
A few years ago I discovered one such tool in a great website called FaithStreet, which profiles churches and faith leaders to inform the body of Christ about the diversity of faith communities that exist. FaithStreet was founded by three New Yorkers: Sean Coughlin, Glenn Ericksen, and Ryan Melogy.
Unlike many church databases I have encountered, FaithStreet does not solely focus on churches from a certain denomination or culture, but highlights the full diversity of the Christian community. I know during this time of Lent, many of us are deepening our faith practice, so if you are searching for a church home, read my interview with FaithStreet co-founder Sean Coughlin below. Sean shares the vision behind this innovative resource and how you can utilize it to find a church or spread the word about your ministry.
What inspired you and your partners to begin FaithStreet and when was it founded?
We've been working on FaithStreet since 2011. We started FaithStreet to help people connect with Christian communities after moving to New York and struggling to find a great church.
What is the purpose of FaithStreet?
FaithStreet brings Christian community online. It's an online home for Christians to organize, share and connect with each other and their communities.
How does FaithStreet serve the body of Christ?
We want to help Christian communities use the powerful technology ever created to share the greatest story ever told: the Gospel.
What are most Christians looking for when attempting to find a church home?
Authenticity and Community.
Who are some of the faith leaders that have been featured on FaithStreet?
In our “Leaders Speak Series” we've featured, Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing at Sojourners, Jose & Mayra Humphreys, Co-Pastors of Metro Hope Community Church, and Rev. John Merz, Pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension.
In what ways does FaithStreet promote diversity in the body of Christ?
FaithStreet strives to promote the breadth and depth of Christianity. Visitors can search churches by characteristics like a focus on "social justice," a "multigenerational" congregation, "open and affirming" beliefs, and a diverse set of music styles.
What impact has FaithStreet had since it was founded?
FaithStreet works with over 11,000 churches and has connected over 100k people to a new Christian community.
How can churches get listed on FaithStreet?
A church can be listed on FaithStreet by filling out a free profile on our website.
What advice would you give to church shoppers?
#1: There's a great church out there for everyone. From conservative to progressive, formal to chill. #2: Don't be consumers. Look for a place that feels like home, where you can give back.
What suggestions do you have to churches about how they can spread the word about their ministry?
Be goal oriented about "spreading the word." Know your goals, first, and the right strategy will follow. Also, join FaithStreet, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
What is the vision for FaithStreet and what goals do you have for 2013?
During 2013, we're adding more social features that will move us beyond church discovery and into helping church communities grow closer and reach more people. And, we're hiring - if you're a talented UX designer or Ruby developer please email email@example.com.
Find FaithStreet on the web:
Onleilove Alston is the Faith Based Organizing Associate for The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencieswhere she serves on the Sojourners National Mobilizing Circle and is a part of the Emerging Voices Project. She writes for Sojourners Magazine, Your Black World and other publications. Her blog is Wholeness4Loveand she tweets at Wholeness4All.