Finding the right church can often be a time consuming and somewhat challenging experience but one devoted Christian says she has created a new, innovative way for believers to find what they're looking for quickly and easily.
Meta Washington, host of Kirk Franklin's Praise on Sirius XM Satellite Radio in New York City, launched her website letspraytogether.org in 2013 as "as a labor of love to help bring Christians together nationwide." Since then, a growing number of congregants and church leaders around the country have been using the free service to connect with other devotees and expand their congregations.
Users can find their ideal church by simply entering information such as city, state, denomination and even preferred congregation size into the website. Pastors can directly list their church on the site by submitting an online form and Washington recently sat down with The Christian Post to share the idea behind Lets Pray Together.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post's interview wirh Meta Washington.
The Christian Post: What inspired you to create Let's Pray Together?
Washington: Well, it started from an on-air segment that I had created a while back. It was created because I had a listener that contacted me to ask if I had known of any churches in the DC area and I said 'well, I don't personally but let me put it out there for the listeners' and when I did, they had so many responses and people were really so enthusiastic about sharing their church information. What I decided at that point was the best way to handle it was to create a website where it would be a database for people to be able to search; either church seekers could look on there ... or you could have churches and ministries who wanted to list themselves. It really worked out because most churches only get the opportunity to open their doors for membership once a week but with LPT its available anytime day or night.
A lot of people when they're looking for a church, it's kind of like a stone throw in the dark. You go to a new town, you try this church and you try that church but when you say specifically 'hey, I'm looking for a protestant church that has this type of congregation and this style of preaching' and you're very specific about it and then you have somebody respond and say 'hey, that fits my church and if they decide to come and visit they can see me personally.' So I've had instances where listeners have literally gone to visit a church and kind of met up with the person who made the recommendation. [They] were instantly welcomed when they got there. I mean its difficult sometimes … even though it's a church and it's supposed to be welcoming for everyone, it's human tendency that people kind of click with people they already know well.
I've had a pastor that reached out and said 'hey listen one of my members is relocating and I wanted to know if you could help them find a church when they get to their new home state. I've had a lot of parents with kids going off to college … who have reached out and said 'hey we want our kids to continue going to church even while they're away. Can you make some recommendations of churches in their town while they're there. It's a network that is a win-win for all.
CP: What has been the general response?
Washington: Overwhelming. Originally when you listen to channels for inspirational music, you get music, you get talk, its very rare that you find someone using a platform to make a network within the people themselves. And because I have a national platform I have a unique opportunity in which to tie people in to each other on many different levels. So people see the effort going into bringing kingdom people together.
CP: In your opinion, how much research should go into finding the right church?
Washington: I think overall, it kind of cuts down the legwork that people have to do. When you move, in addition to trying to settle yourself in a new city, it's the going from church to church (and you only have an opportunity to go to one church basically per weekend) so it could be months before you find a good match. Whereas if you put it out there for people exactly what you're looking for (ie: youth ministry, family church)...its a unique opportunity to be able to do your research in advance.
CP: What are your hopes for LPT going forward?
Washington: Well I'd like to see the continued growth of the churches and ministries signing up. Of course I want it to continue to be a resource for people who are looking for a church nationwide ...Right now I'm in the midst of a new initiative for LPT which we'll probably release later this month and it's called Joyful Noise. Most people know me for my work in radio and what Joyful Noise is. I have a video portion that is on the website and I'm opening it up to indie artists and musicians and singers because Sirius XM is not a platform for independent artists and most mainstream radio stations are not. You can't just call up and say 'hey I've got a CD who do I submit my music to?' So what I'm doing now is creating a network for independent artists to be connected with those who are interested in signing them and playing their music or representing them.
CP: Can you tell me a little about the idea behind 'Church Of The Week?'
Wwashington: I pull from the website a 'church of the week' and it's an incentive for churches to have the unique opportunity to get on a national platform and be represented. It really is an incentive for others to hear their churches being recognized for a day and having all of the different activities that are being featured at people's churches being represented and celebrated for a day to make others say 'hey I need to make sure I'm signed up.'
For more information on Let's Pray Together CLICK HERE