“This church was an amazing experience! Leadership was incredibly friendly and accommodating. The teachings were very inspiring and on point without Christ's teachings. The building is accommodating to handicap and other needs. Great experience overall!” —An actual 5-star review of my local church building.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a church I’d like to visit. Scott Wright wrote this review in early 2019 as part of a Google Maps program called “local guides.” These guides are trusted members of the Google Maps community who add local roads, take photos, and write reviews in their area. Most do it for free because they like helping others.
As a local guide myself, I’ve also tried my best to help others. My review of the American Fork stake center goes like this:
This is an older church building, so it's a bit worn down, but the people are swell and there's plenty of parking. :) First-time visitors should know: - Sunday services are held every 90-minutes starting at 9:00 am. The last service at this building starts at 1:30 p.m. - Services last two hours; the first hour is a large congregational meeting and the second hour is for smaller group lessons split out by age and sometimes by gender (it rotates). - While "Sunday best" is what the congregation generally wears, people are welcome in any attire - Learn more about the church services at churchofjesuschrist.org.
This is one of over 200 reviews I’ve written, most for things like restaurants and local stores. While it’s not my most popular review, one could argue it’s my most important.
My portfolio of contributions, including this one, recently earned me a spot at the prestigious Connect Live conference, which was held in San Jose, California, in November 2019. This event proved to be another opportunity to share my faith. Of the 200 attendees at the event, only 20 were American, and I was predictably the only one from Utah.
Because of my listed state of origin, my religion came up naturally several times. I was asked, “What’s it like to live with all those Mormons?” I guess the guy assumed I wasn’t one because I was at the event, which had large party elements. I replied back, “It’s great, because I am one!” And that opened a door.
Another time, I didn’t recognize a song, and someone asked, “Wait, are you Mormon? Can Mormons dance?” We were literally dancing at the time. I quipped back, “What is this, Footloose? Of course we can dance!”
Of course, my choice not to drink alcohol, coffee, or tea also started conversations.
It wasn’t until this event that I realized how my work as a local guide can be used to spread the gospel, both in-person with other guides and on maps. You don’t have to do anything big—just little things while living the gospel.
Want to join me? Here are a few easy things you can do to get started:
- Review your local church building on Google Maps
- Review any temples you have attended on Google Maps
- Write reviews of other secular places you’ve visited, keeping your language clean and your review helpful.
- Consider adding appropriate, religious references—remember your perspective and experience is valid! For example, when reviewing a local restaurant, you could mention how you appreciate they do not serve alcohol, or when writing about your local airport, you could mention you wish they had a better chapel for travelers.
Note: Do not review anything that you haven’t experienced personally! This is a fast way to get your review account disabled. Only write about your authentic experiences.
Lead image from Getty Images