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Show HN: Churches + The Internet
21 points by glennericksen 825 days ago | comments
Hey HN, wanted to introduce FaithStreet to you all. This has been a huge undertaking for us as we've brought together a huge trove of poorly organized information over the last year and built a service that connects thousands of people to churches across the US.

Link: http://www.FaithStreet.com/

If you have ever experienced a church website or considered attending a church, you may have already realized that its a space sorely lacking decent tech. We don't think that faith and technology are mutually exclusive, and the 7000+ churches who have signed up in the last two months seem to be coming around as well.

Would love your feedback. Much respect for the community that is HN.

p.s. On Tuesday, PandoDaily covered us. Here's a link if you're interested: http://pandodaily.com/2012/11/27/startup-faithstreet-lives-at-the-corner-of-tech-and-christianity/




I'm an atheist, but have an upvote for innovating in a sparse niche.

Also, Clickable: http://www.FaithStreet.com/

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Thanks! Glad to have different viewpoints and still be excited about tech in new places.

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What software do you use to compute distances? The distances it gives are "as the crow flies" rather than driving distances. Specifically, I live near a large bay with one bridge across it about 50 miles from me. A city on the opposite side of the bay from me is listed as being 20 miles away. Ditto for a city on the opposite side of a river with only a bridge. This isn't the first place I've seen it, just wondering where you get the distances.

Also, how do you sort? I kind of expected a sort by distance or denomination or even alphabetical, but I couldn't figure out the order.

Nice service though! I found a few churches near me I didn't even know existed, and I've been in the area 15 years.

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We use a combination of geospatial features from our database (MongoDB) and linear algebra to compute the distances on a coordinate grid. Admittedly this isn't a flawless approach, and cases like yours reveal some of the weaknesses. Certainly open to suggestions on a better way :)

With regards to ordering of results, it is mostly by distance, with some outliers. Definitely an area we are working on improving.

Thanks for the kind words.

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you could sort by zipcode.

more similar zipcodes should be closer together.

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I looked at it, I could imagine being interested in such a site, but I was not able to see anything I couldn't find by Yelp or Google.

Some questions I might be interested in finding answers to:

* Does this church have large number of single people in their twenties and thirties?

* How intellectual are the sermons?

* What, overall, are the priorities and personalities of the people who attend there?

* What does the church think about [women pastors|gay marriage|etc.,etc.]? Does everyone there agree?

I would suggest looking at OKCupid for ideas. OKC, as with all online dating, has its faults -- but it is good at figuring out what you are looking for and then showing it to you. Such a model might work here, as most churches don't share a dater's desire to be selective.

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This is by far the best feedback, and I would add the following questions (as a parent):

* Does the church provide childcare/nursery services?

* If so, which services times do/don't have it?

* Link to financial information or simple budget breakdown [1] (Making financial information easily accessible is important IMO)

* What mission and community projects/services does the church support and in what amounts?

[1] Examples: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/flower-mound/about-us/who-we... http://www.aldersgateumc.org/Resources/2011ChurchBudget/tabi...

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this is great feedback. right now, as churches join, we're collecting a version of every data point you mention. soon, search will begin evolving into more of a personality based matching service.

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Although I am not extremely religious, I still think it's a great idea. Why though are you focusing only on Churches? There are synagogues, mosques, buddhist temples, etc. You have the potential to be the google for finding any religious place.

Also how are you sustaining? Are you charging churches anything to list themselves? They don't pay taxes, so you might as well charge them for something...

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Sean from @FaithStreet here. We're focused on Christianity because its a big market (1m+ Christian communities, 60 million people actively involved in Christian communities) that we're passionately involved in, and we think it would be much harder (for branding, for user acquisition, for product design) to approach multiple faiths simultaneously.

For now, churches create free profiles. We're rolling out paid features for churches soon.

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I think this is a good approach. Concentrate on getting it perfect for Christianity and then later on you can expand.

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Great idea and looks cool but I typed in my address and I know a pretty big church next to my house was not on the list. If you want to look into it, it's called victory world church in norcross.

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While we have a huge amount of information regarding churches across the US, only churches that actively manage their profiles are listed in the search results. We've found this results in more useful information for someone looking for a church and provides a better overall look-and-feel.

To join FaithStreet, churches can either claim a pre-made page or add their information Here's an example of what Victory's unclaimed page looks like: http://www.faithstreet.com/church/victory-world-church-norcr...

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Very nice work. I'm Christian and when moving to a new neighborhood, it's common for the first thing after settling down is to find a nearby church. Great work.

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We definitely want to be part of the process for as many people as we can. Pack. Move. Unpack. FaithStreet. Well... something like that.

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"Move and be moved - Faithstreet"

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