By: Jenny Bruce
Do you remember when you were a kid and you worried so much about what people thought of you? Remember how your mom would always comfort you with the idea that people think much less about you than you fear they do? The internet has proven your mom wrong. (Yes, it's 2009 and I'm writing about the internet. Sue me.) If anything, the internet has taught us that not only are people thinking about you much more than you think they do, they're also writing angry and poorly spelled diatribes against you for the world to see.
Have you ever accidentally stumbled upon negative comments about you that you probably weren't meant to see? My first experience was four years ago when I played Rapunzel in a production of "Into The Woods." While searching online for newspaper reviews, I came across the blog of one of the members of the orchestra. He completely ripped the show and singled me out, saying that my screaming was enough to cause tumors in lab rats. (I thought about making him rat shaped sugar cookies with gumdrop tumors and leaving them on his seat in the orchestra pit, but I ultimately decided against it.)
Now this certainly wasn't character assasination (and my screaming was pretty wretched), but I was burdened by the realization that I can't keep people from writing whatever they want about me and sending it out to the world.
This brings me to Yelp. I was searching for something on Yelp the other day and stumbled across a somewhat negative review of a church in my community. My heart started beating a little faster like it had when I discovered the comment about my performance years ago. Did anyone in the church know about this review? Did it discourage them? Did it keep others from visiting the church? Had anyone reviewed my church? Had they written things like, "Well the service was all right, but we absolutely LOATHED the children's ministry"?
Needless to say, I'm currently not so keen on the idea of reviewing churches like I would a neighborhood diner or coffee shop. I worry it might encourage a consumer driven attitude towards church, foster a competitive spirit between churches, and (undeservedly) taint a church's reputation. However, I'm still recovering from the whirlwind that was this morning's community valentine making party and my thoughts are muddy. Dearest Reader, will you grant me some clarity?
Here's what I want to know:
1. Do you think reviewing churches is a good idea? Why or why not?
2. Have you ever used reviews to find a church? Were they helpful?
Yes, I'm asking you to do the heavy mental lifting. But do you really want firm opinions from someone who spent the majority of the last two days pondering how to make fish valentines out of paper hearts? I thought so.