More details here.
I can’t study when the TV is on. No way would I even want to study for a math competition if bombs and soldiers were assailing my neighborhood.
But 14-year-old Areej El-Madhoun shows how you can study under extreme pressure and come out a winner. After being attacked by Israel’s IDF and suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, this young girl a month later won an international math contest, solving 182 complex math problems in eight minutes. Her story is here.
Do you use religious search engines for your religious work? Probably not. They most likely do not cover a broad enough view of your subject. So what does a religious person do? Use the regular search engines?
Using any search engine has its disadvantages. Some search engines operate in a secret way. For example, the Google search engine cooperates fully with the Mossad, Israel’s equivalent of the CIA. Your Google account password means nothing; it is apparently open to Mossad, as one religious blogger discovered.
Are there any search engines that maintain your privacy? In the cyber-world there is no supreme guarantee, but there are a few that promise to keep your searches private and not record your personal data.
You might want to try DuckDuckGo for starters, or StartPage. You can compare search results easily. For example, in DuckDuckGo, type in ‘Christian persecution’, and then compare the result with Google by typing ‘Christian persecution!g’ (without quotation marks), then compare your results.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, has a new job. He will soon be the governor of the Bank of England (BoE).
The BoE was first promoted in 1693 by a retired pirate, William Paterson. The BoE original bylaws were to ensure
that the bank complied with its hidden purpose, viz. to fleece the English people in perpetuity by allowing the creation of the nation’s money and means of exchange out of nothing, at interest.
Has the bank’s hidden purpose been changed since its founding in 1694? Read this fascinating essay by former South African Reserve Bank director, Stephen Goodson (who was booted from the Reserve Bank in 2012 because he questioned the accuracy of the world’s newest religion, Holocaustianity).
Source: Church Marketing Sucks
The Mystery Worshipper Phenomenon
October 28, 2008 by Kevin D. Hendricks
Mystery shoppers for churches seem to be the latest rage. There was the recent Wall Street Journal article, we mentioned it last week, the Tennessean covered it Sunday and Anne Jackson blogged about it yesterday.
Of course you can’t talk about Mystery Worshippers without mentioning the UK site Ship of Fools. They practically started the trend and have reviewed more than 1,600 churches in the past decade:
“We all need to remember what it is to be an outsider in an environment in which we are comfortable and secure,” [one of the site’s founders, Simon] Goddard said.
“Mystery worshipper can be a wake-up call for the smug and self-satisfied.”
Of course they’re not selling it as a marketing service.
And this is where the practice takes a beating, another slide towards consumerism and selling out the church for business methods.
Jackson admits her conflicted feelings over mystery worshipers, but notes:
“If you’re fully relying on what you sense the Holy Spirit is leading you to do, and trusting he will bring the right people, the right connections all together at the right time, do you need a stranger coming in with critical eyes to tell you the letters on your signage aren’t big enough?”
But by that logic, why would we do any communication or marketing? I think God works in mysterious ways, sometimes miraculously and sometimes through something as worldly as a mystery worshipper.
Now I’m not totally sold on the practice. It seems like a pricey perk especially in this economy. But I think the greatest value it offers is helping your church see itself through a visitor’s eyes. Something like the faded parking lot stripes is kind of nuts, but legitimate issues like how do I find the sanctuary or visitors being ignored are a big deal. When you’ve attended a church your whole life–or even a few years–you become blind to those issues.
And if you really want new people to come to your church, if you really want them to get to know Jesus, then you’ve got to care about whether or not they’ll visit your church and want to come back.
Let’s major on the majors (an atmosphere of welcome, not getting lost, etc.), forget about the minors (faded parking lot stripes, water-stained ceiling tiles, etc.) and do whatever it takes to make people come back to our churches–whether that’s hiring a mystery worshipper or figuring out how to do it yourself.
Source: Christian Week
February 1, 2009 • Volume 22, Number 22
Mystery worshippers spy on church
By Mags Storey | Ontario Correspondent
LONDON, ENGLAND–For the past 10 years, Steve Goddard and others like him have been secretly visiting churches worldwide to evaluate them on the divine and benign–including the welcome, worship, preaching, seating and the quality of the coffee.
Goddard came up with the idea for Mystery Worshippers while working as a mystery shopper, and the idea took flight in 1998 when he and friend Simon Jenkins launched UK Christian humour website www.ship-of-fools.com
“Being a mystery worshipper is weird,” Goddard says, “because you’re not in church to worship–you are there for sleuthing.
“You have to put a mystery worshipper calling card in the collection plate, and you have to do it surreptitiously or you will be identified–which is hard in congregations of 12 people. Some mystery worshippers have been discovered and escorted to the pastor’s study to explain themselves.
“We also ask our mystery worshippers to stand around after the service looking lost, which is difficult because you have to look really sad and miserable. It’s terribly nerve-wracking.”
Thousands of churches and events have been visited so far, including the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI and the funeral of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Eleven of the 155 churches hit last year were in Canada–including Saint Roch in Quebec City, whose congregation was “friendly without being pushy.” At St. Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto, the sermon was “scripturally dense, but relatively easily to follow.” At St. James Vancouver, the mystery worshipper met Bear, the parish dog.
Loretta Jaunzarins is a Ship of Fools fan and pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hamilton. She was shocked when a mystery worshipper’s calling card was discovered in her collection plate after her Sunday service.
“I thought this is it, I’m doomed!” says Jaunzarins, who had just preached an unconventional sermon on U2. “But we got a good review. We were happy with it.”
Churches are given the opportunity to respond online. After St Paul’s Cathedral in Regina was chastised for the pattern on its green vestments, a deacon contacted Ship of Fools to explain it was an aerial view of the prairies. One UK congregation demanded an apology after a report prompted its ushers to quit. Another accused their priest of creating a fake review lavishly praising himself.
“We had one minister pin a bad report up on the notice board in the church with a sign saying: ‘We must do better,'” Goddard says. “We’ve even had churches asking us to send them a mystery worshipper.”
Critics of the reviews point out they are unrepresentative and biased–something which Goddard acknowledges.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” he says, “because it gives an insight into the mystery worshippers themselves as well as the church.”
West Edmonton Christian Assembly is a growing and active evangelical church with a wide range of spiritual and practical community programs. But a visiting mystery worshipper all but ignored this in an extremely critical review which instead derided their physical appearance, dress sense and “very narrow” theology.
“We found their review by accident and laughed our heads off,” says senior associate pastor Dave Wood, whom the reviewer accused of playing a “weird” piece of music “that sounded like a pig being threaded through a meat grinder.”
“Some of it was incredibly biased,” he says, adding the reviewer was “highly critical” of their evangelical, Bible-based world view. “We found some of it challenging. But some was just nuts.”
“A complete outsider is much more aware of minor things than a church-goer,” Goddard says. “It is a massive issue crossing the threshold of a church for the first time.”
“If I need a kick, give me a kick,” Jaunzarins adds, “I always pray that God sends us the people that we need each Sunday–even mystery worshippers.”