Gary is vacationing in Florida, and like others, cannot take time off his blog. Uh...anyway. Today he referenced something about a blog by people calling themselves the Church Checkup.
In short, the Church Checkup is a person or persons (they speak vaguely of we) that visits churches in Georgia and offers written reviews. Their reviews seem relatively fair, albeit pithy about some things. They seem to go into spasms when people commit the sin of overdressing, but other than that, they talk frankly about the good, bad and the ugly.
So here's where Gary is more gracious than I am. After their mostly-good review of Gary's church, Ridgestone, he wrote this about them:
I think this type of review is hard to swallow but so needed. When you are in your church every week, you get to where you miss some of the little things. I sent the review of our service to the whole staff to review.Gary, you're a good man. You're a kind man. But I'll say it...these guys are yahoos.
From the Yahoo's website:
We are not one, but many. We are not the Borg. If you know who we are, you would know when we're visiting your church. We would also get more hate mail. We have decades of experience in ministry and pastoring, and almost two decades of web design experience.....When will Church Checkup come to my church? You'll never know. If you knew, it wouldn't do any good. I'll use an analogy. (That's where you compare two things that are alike.) If the health inspector told restaurants when he/she was coming to check their place out, all the restaurants would score 100.Understand that I think all churches need to be reviewed regularly, and I think that having non-attendees is the best way to do it. I have one friend who used to pay people fifty bucks to attend his church and tell them what they thought (the deal is no longer on, so you'll have go go back to giving plasma...). I think it's brilliant. At the same time, this website is nuts, for the following reasons.
Reasons Why I Think This Whole Deal is Whack:
1) No leader worth his salt really takes anonymous criticism. Every leader gets it. Aftere a while, you toss it in the can, because you learn the reason a critic remains anonymous is to mask a) bias or b) fear. Either way, when they sign their name, credibility follows. Checkup Crew, if you really want to help these churches, then tell us you who you are, or simply describe the settings and leave the church names out.
2) It propagates church ala' carte. Reviews are inherently comparisons. "I liked the worship at church xyz, the preaching at church abc, and the children's ministry of pie-are-squared." People who think this way end up nibbling at the banquet table of six or eight places and having to call at least that many churches looking for someone to do their daughter's wedding, then gripe because they have to pay to rent the hall because no one knows them.
3) It makes broad assumptions with little background info. I only know one or two pastors (planters, of course) who are not saddled with at least one detail about their church that they'd change if they could. Anybody can ride into town and announce "The whole deal would work better if they'd have the brains to move the Icon of St. Guadelupe further to the left...". Especially when they don't know that the former pastor purchased said Icon while on his last trip to Portugal, where he suddenly died of the bends on a diving expedition. Long story short, that Icon's not moving and the pastor can't do squat about it. OK, that's an extreme example, but the principle is that these checkup guys have no CLUE how certain things were decided on, or why the light tree is located there, or why they let that bald guy make announcements. In all likelihood, the pastor doesn't like it either. Get off his back. There are factors you can't understand in one visit.
4) It panders to the kingdom of biggest, best and first. Most pastors think their biggest problem is breaking the 200 barrier, or 500 barrier, or 1000 barrier. These things can be fixed with good websites, clever teaching, or great music. Unfortunately, it's often the least of the pastor's problems. We are nearing a day - some would say we're already there - when biggest, best and first means little to nothing. Churches are becoming larger and less effective, both at atrocious rates, and now with the help of an anonymous checkup, they can tweak their performances to become more of both.
5) If they've got 20 years of web design experience, why does their blog look as dorky as mine? Sorry. I couldn't resist. I wonder these things. Also interesting, their sidebar says "Don't complain to us or question us." Yikes. That's pretty strong language from people who won't sign their name.
Granted, I'm in Kansas City, far out of their target zone, and don't have any sort of church that they could review, so maybe that gives me a bit more boldness, but I think these guys are doing more damage than some poor pastor whose website needs help, so I'm sayin' it: These guys are playground bullies wearing ski masks....and my name's on the blog and my email's in my profile.
Of course, we have absolutely no clue who these guys are, so I'm going to guess.
1) A church planter who is touring Georgia with his core group and seriously thinks he's being helpful or
2) A college professor.
2) A former pastor.
If it's #1, woe to the dude, for these things have a way of reciprocating. He is training his peeps to be connoisseurs that he will be forced to cook for soon. If it's #2....it's because those who can't, teach. If it's #3, I'm not even going there.