Focus Group Faith: Get paid $500 to go to church!!!

This may sound like a scam on craigslist, but it’s actually a real ad that The Drew Marshall Show ran last June in the Toronto Star (newspaper). Drew hosts a radio show in Canada and they were trying to recruit participants for what they called “The Five Churches Experiment” (The actual newspaper ad read: “We’ll pay you to go to church! $500 to visit 5 churches!”). What was the catch? In order to be chosen (and paid) to be part of the experiment, applicants had to be “pagan/new age/agnostic/ atheist/whatever… someone with no church background.” Two people were selected for the experiment (one male, one female – they agreed to split the money) and over this past summer, they attended various churches in the Toronto area and then shared their thoughts/reactions on-air (Drew’s radio show) and online (Drew’s blog). In addition to their written summaries of each church, they also evaluated the churches on some categories like the building, friendliness, tunes, preaching and institutional vibe (each category was given a score of 0 to 4, where 0 = Brutal, 1 = Whatever, 2 = Nice Try, 3 = Good On Ya, 4 = WOW!). Canadians are great, eh? To be honest, I haven’t read/listened to everything on this, but I think it’s a really interesting idea for a study. Of particular interest to me where the three reasons they gave for doing it,

  1. to model for the Christian community, healthy dialogue NOT debate.
  2. to provide accurate observations from a real live objective “outsider” to anyone from the Church who might actually be interested.
  3. to provoke discussion in a numb and desensitized culture, begging for authenticity!

If you’d like to read more about this unique experiment, follow these links.

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