Mar 242010
 

Churches are searching for pastors. Pastors are looking for churches. Making the connection can be quite challenging for many on both sides of the equation. Sure there’s a spiritual dimension to all of this– being a pastor is a “calling,” (whatever that might mean in a particular faith tradition) layered with much prayer for discernment and provision. Yet in the real-world concrete and tangible reality, there is that job component, when a church pastor is a paid religious professional.

There are a bunch of search engines / directories/ listings working to make this connection, for pastors looking for a ministry opportunity, and for churches looking for a pastor to fill a staff position, along with other church staff jobs. I’ll update this list as I find ‘em — (note: listing does not connote endorsement) ::

And, there are professional services that help make the connection for churches and staff. HelpStaff.me is run by Justin Lathrop (one of my pastor friends), who can put together a professional nationwide search for church staff positions. And, the executive search firm called Vanderbloemen Search Group facilitates ministry leadership search for larger churches. Another one is MinisterSearch.com, a full-service consulting firm for church staffing.

Aside: this ehow.com article, How to Work for a MegaChurch, gives sobering advice about working in a church setting. Set your idealism aside — “If you think working for a church will be peaceful and idyllic, you’re deluding yourself. Pastors and church staff members are as inherently flawed as the rest of the world. If your desire to work for a MegaChurch stems from the belief that you’ll be in a conflict free office environment, think again.

Aug 092009
 

Recently I’ve been asked, time and again, “I’m having a hard time finding a church.” I find the question surprising. Look at this map below of Irvine, California, where every red dot represents a church. (granted, not every Google search of the word church is a church, but most of them are churches.. and not every church has the word church in its name.. so let’s call it even.)
irvine-churches

With so many red dots, churches are obviously much easier to find than a wifi hotspot! And a while back, I put together a shorter list of churches in Irvine, California, to help with people’s elusive search. Why am I still hearing the question? Now, I am sympathetic to the question, knowing how it can be hard to find a place of acceptance and understanding. Yet I wonder what is the really going on behind the question.

These questions come from Christians, even mature ones at that. On the one hand, there are many well-meaning books and articles exhorting the church searcher to not be church hopping and church shopping, to resist the cultural forces of consumerism. And, it’s true that you can worship God and connect with God anywhere. And Jesus did say something about the question not being to worship at this mountain or that mountain [being translated: at this church or that church], but worship in spirit and truth.

And when those theological truths and aspirational beliefs hit the ground, even mature Christians seem to find it hard to arbitrarily choose any church and make it their church home. Even when one sifts through a big list of churches to the ones that match a person’s theological convictions, and rightly so, there are still dozens to choose from. Preferences span the range of: teaching style, worship music, philosophy of ministry, church size, sizeable number of people of the same age, particular kinds of ministry, etc. And it’s not just preferences for a church that’d feed their soul [or, where they're best challenged to grow] or where they can connect with people like themselves. It’s also particulars of a church where they can best serve and offer their gifts, talents, and treasures.

Is being picky with churches too selfish? Sure it could be self-serving. Or it can be a part of the discernment process. And decision-making is not easy. The perennial favorite topic of “finding God’s will” stays at the top of the charts. In this case, finding the right church.

My thought for now: I think while we can worship God anywhere, or try to, the marvel is that God will meet us where we are. Preferences and all.

Sep 092008
 

Many great insights show up in the comment thread of blogs, especially on A-list blogs [FYI, I'm B-list]. I’m surprised that with web technologies multiplying on so many fronts that a search engine hasn’t been built sooner to crawl blog comments. Plus, now a growing number of blogging tools are offering RSS feed for comments, e.g. WordPress, TypePad, Blogger. Those are the “big 3″, imho. I’d like to think that it’d be fairly easy to aggregate those RSS feeds and slap a search engine on it. Just like how a new blog post pings a server, so could a comment RSS feed.

Now there is one called BackType — a search engine that searches blog comments (finally!). Surprisingly, this blog post explains BackType better than its about page:

BackType is a website that lets people find, follow and share comments from across the web. Comments play an important role in social media; there are millions of comments written every single day. BackType’s technology crawls and indexes millions of comments so you can search them by topic or follow those written by the people you care about.

I’m not sure if it uses the algorithm I described above, or how extensive BackType searches the commentsphere (aka commentosphere). It looks like BackType does so much more than coComment, Disqus, or IntenseDebate3 great commenting add-ons that have been around a while to index comments for blogs and commenters that use their service. My guess is that a majority of commenters don’t. [disclosure: I've used coComment before, and currently use Disqus here.]
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Jun 252008
 

I like connecting people to people. There, I’ve said it. Whether it’s people to God, people to resources, people to churches, people to places, it’s listening people’s question and connecting to what they’re looking for.

In a recent conversation, someone moving into the Irvine area is looking for a church. He’s been checking different churches out, but hasn’t yet found the right one. Ingredients that he’s looking for: a Bible-teaching church, a strong children’s ministry, fellowship with other Christians, a place to serve, and not too loud. A church like Bent Tree Bible Fellowship would be ideal, he said. It’s a kind of healthy church that feels like home (for certain evangelical Christians).

I ran through my mental rolodex and here’s what I came up with (in no particular order). But comparatively few right there in Irvine, surprisingly. There are plenty of great churches in Irvine, granted, but not sure all fit the description above. Perhaps you know some others.

(I think you can leave out that the Bible-teaching churches that are too vocal about the faults and problems of other good evangelical church’s practices…)

I’ve indexed more than a dozen church directories and search engines here — great reference there for anyone looking for a church anywhere.

[update] brand new website just launched by Jon Acuff -> Can I Wear Jeans? at caniwearjeans.blogspot.com for a directory of candid church reviews, cf. read back story from Steve Knight

[update May 2009] also see this list of churches with evening worship services

Aug 092007
 

Even though I typically use my T-mobile hotspot subscription to login at nearby Starbucks and Borders, I can also enjoy the occasional free wifi internet from other venues I stumble upon. They can be kinda hard to find, at least in places I frequent like around metro Washington DC, or, now, around Orange County. I reguarly use the Wi-Fi FreeSpot Directory — this shows up #1 on a Google search for “free wifi” and in the last year over 4000 new locations have been added.

But I found 3 4 other great free wifi directories online with web 2.0 collaboration that maintains a current and up-to-date directory (but haven’t accrued enough Google juice and I hope my link and yours will help):

(Statistics were self-reporting from each directory, at time of this blog post.)

There you go — now you can stay connected. Just have to remember to bring your laptop, and keep your battery charged. If you find other great free wifi directories, please do add a comment to this post.