If Rick Warren were a tech company, what would it look like? It would look something like Gloo Connect, an innovative platform utilized in the church growth movement. According to the Christian Post, more than 30,000 churches are using Gloo Connect, and per their website, these churches would include David Platt’s McLean Bible Church, Larry Osbornes’ North Coast Church, and Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church. Gloo may best be described as a small company that uses people’s personal data and online activities to target individuals who might be more receptive to their client’s message.
Targeting individuals while they are down in nothing new in the church growth movement. Rick Warren is a master pioneer of this as he articulates in his interview with Barna. Barna is deeply inbedded in Gloo. Barna Research Group is the leading pollster, public opinion analysist within the church. However, Barna is extremely woke. In 2021, Barna Research Group was partnering with a firm to help staff woke pastors on churches.
Barna is far from the only group with a partnership with Gloo, but theirs is the most significant by far. The partnership has Gloo pushing a city focused missiology. The city approach focuses on planting more churches in cities (to replace the failed ones) in place of unchurched rural areas. Tim Keller is perhaps the most famous teacher who proliferates this missiology.
Simply put, Gloo would help a church figure out their online advertising to target people based on their online activity, such as search history. Their trailer features an example of someone looking up divorce via google and seeing an add that targets them in their situation.
Theoretically, this technology could be used for good, but the churches that are publicly partnered with Gloo are not churches to emulate. Moreover, the Gloo platform pushes content from Christianity Today, Barna, and the Youversion Bible App, which all have major worldview issues attached to them.
One cannot help but conclude that the Algorithm Christianity of a church utilizing Big Tech data will lead to a church that is quite friendly with Big Tech and their algorithms, especially to remain as advertisers on their platforms. If a church were to advertise faithfulness during lockdowns, an anti-abortion stance, or an anti-homosexuality stance, they risk this entire strategy falling apart. The precarious nature of this strategy is a major concern with a church spending sums of money on this platform and perhaps subsequent targeted ads.
But the most public churches on Gloo won’t have to worry about that. The Rick Warren approach will lead to Rick Warren results regardless of denomination or size.