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BigChurch: Full Review   

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About BigChurch

URL : BigChurch
Year Started : 1996
Location : United States of America
Languages : English
Short Description : Big Church began as an online dating service for Christians in 2000 and is now one of the larger, exclusively Christian dating websites available. Big Church screens all members carefully and reads every profile before allowing it to be posted.
Number of Members : 200,000
Overall Rating : A 5; Big Church is small site that is perfect for it's niche. It will never compete with the big guys, but it isn't trying to. Big Church does what it has set out to - provide a safe, Christian alternative to standard online dating sites.

BigChurch Categories & Features

Relationships :
  • Marriage
  • Pen Pals
  • Romance
Religions :
  • Catholic
  • Christian
Ethnicities :
  • All
Finding Your Match :
  • Automated Matching
  • Photo Gallery
  • Search (Advanced)
  • Search (Quick)
  • Smart Matching
Contacting Members :
  • E-mail
  • Online Chat

BigChurch Dating Service Review

The Company : Big Church is part of FriendFinder, a network of dating and friendship websites based out of Palo Alto, California. Friendfinder owns and operates several sites that cater to niche markets and serves as a solid base for small markets.
Site Navigation : All of Big Church's pages were clear and navigation was simple, but the chat room was a very slow load and it was difficult to follow any discussion threads because of this. Graphics are pretty standard, but the photos show up clearly.
Site Response Speed : Average
Sign-Up Process : Big Church's sign-up is free to visit and browse, but you can't do much else without becoming a paying member. The profile section is easy to fill out and the questions are interesting and highly relevant if you are seeking a Christian date or mate.
Breadth of Services : Strictly dating and relationship-oriented Christian membership. Some members are looking for study or devotion partners, but this is a relatively small percentage.
User Base : It's difficult to judge breadth of service on a site like Big Church with such a narrow band of interest, but on the whole the user base is made up of Christians who are sincere and honest in their profiles and are looking for that special someone. The numbers indicate that the mid-West is the least represented among Big Church's member ranks, with the East Coast being the most heavily populated. Canada also has solid numbers.
User Experience : Although limited on the free membership, Big Church's correspondence (when paid for) is easy to use and you can bookmark favorites and save emails for quite a while in order to refer back to them. The profiles are easy to browse through and the breakdown by state is a nice feature. Chat was virtually useless though.
Customer Service : Very good customer service backed by FriendFinder's knowledgeable staff. Email questions were answered quickly. Big Church's help section was very good and answered most questions you could think of.
Customer Service Hours :
  • Via email only
  • Website help section
  • Mail
Registration Options : Registration Procedures:
  • Free to register
  • Quick registration
  • Tips and examples
  • Send photos by download only
Long Description :

Big Church

The most interesting thing about Big Church is the number of unique extras that are offered. First, you can actually improve your rankings in searches by upgrading your membership. Silver Big Church members can do advanced searches, take advantage of personalized matching and send and receive emails and "winks." Gold Big Church members can do the same, but will appear higher on other members' searches compared to Silver members and can do an even more advanced, detailed search. Another unusual feature is the chance to "highlight" your listing, which is exactly what it sounds like. When someone does browse the profiles and comes up with 50 matches, if you pay extra for highlighting, your profile will be highlighted in yellow to make it stand out from the pack. You can even highlight any emails you send so that they catch the recipient's eye when they open their inbox. The highlighting can be purchased by the month, 3 months, or year, like the memberships.

Big Church offers a clean online dating experience

The guidelines forbid any objectionable or graphic language and members respect those guidelines. Big Church is a small site because it is a niche site. For its professed specialty - Christian dating, however, it is respectably peopled with members. If you are a born-again or conservative Christian, 200,000 members is a whole lot more than you'll ever have the chance to meet at any church social function. By the very nature of their beliefs, many Christians have an even more difficult time meeting people who share their values and commitment to God, so this site fills a definite need and does so quite well. Big Church isn't trendy and does have some bugs in the chat room, but on the whole it is a well-run small site. The help section is very good with plenty of detailed answers to common questions and an e-mail response turn-around of about 48 hours.

Limited free options for Big Church membership

Free membership at Big Church is more limited than at most sites. While you can post a profile and photo, you cannot do a detailed profile by answering detailed questions about your personal interests and activities. The general membership allows for a brief profile and asks questions specifically of interest to Christian dating, including questions like: "What scripture verse has had the most impact on you?" and "Describe your Faith and its importance in your life." Other questions are really quite good at getting to the core of what a person is like by asking seemingly mundane questions like: "Describe your typical day and what you do in it." If you want to find out what they like to do on the weekend, where they expect to be in ten years or anything of that nature, you will have to join as either a Silver or Gold Big Church member. With these two membership options you can tailor how prominent your profile is on other people's searches. Gold members (about $4 more per month) automatically show up higher in a Big Church search than similar Silver members.

Chat with other Big Church members seeking Christian dates

Big Church's look and feel are basic. There's not a lot of glitz, but the pages are clearly laid out and easy to navigate. The focus is on the matching, which is done well and gives you the option of taking into consideration such things as denominational preferences. The pricing is a bit complicated, but Big Church is a smaller site and they do need to make enough money to keep going, so they can't give it all away. The chat room doesn't really have much going on. Most nights there might be a total of 40 people in the Big Church chat rooms, as opposed to the hundreds you would find on a larger site. There are three chat rooms, with one for general conversation, one for religious discussion and one for meditation. The most popular is the general conversation/friendship room, but it tends to be frequented by the same people quite a bit. This may be because the load in the chat rooms is terribly slow, which makes it frustrating to use for any length of time and makes it difficult to follow the thread of some conversations.

BigChurch Pros & Cons

Pros :
  • Big Church is a safe, well-screened site for those who value safety, integrity and a strong religious orientation. The opportunity to not only seek dates, but look for prayer and study partners and Christian friends is a good idea for such a focused site.
  • Because the cost is a bit high compared to the actual membership numbers, the addition of extras like personalized matching, highlighting and Points adds value to Big Church membership that makes the cost more palatable.
  • The thoroughness of the screening when you submit a profile shouldn't be underrated - it's essential to the integrity of a site that is endeavouring to cater to a particular clientele that doesn't want to have to wade through crassness, obscenities or objectionable materials. Big Church does this well and manages to do so without giving in to the temptation to gain revenue through advertising dollars. There aren't banners or pop-ups anywhere.
  • The "magazine" area provides a forum for asking questions of other dating Christians or posting answers if you have them.
Cons :
  • Big Church is strictly a niche site.
  • The load for the Big Church chat room is slow and the chat room doesn't always have much activity.
  • The pricing plans are a bit confusing and a bit more complicated than they need to be.

BigChurch Plans Offered

Pricing : Silver Membership
  • 1 month ... $15.95
  • 3 months ... $29.95
  • 1 year ... $79.95

Gold Membership

  • 1 month ... $19.95
  • 3 months ... $39.95
  • 1 year ... $99.95

  • Highlighting of your Big Church profile and emails is $9.90 for 1 month, $24.90 for 3 months and $59.90 for 1 year.
  • Full access - you can email anyone and begin IM sessions yourself, being proactive rather than reactive. Lots more say over who you correspond with this way.
  • You can personalize your searches in a much more detailed fashion.
  • Blocking features.
  • Earn points for upgrades or purchases.
Site Freebies :
  • Browsing capabilities, the chance to post a basic profile. You can search Big Church's database by state or region and choose an age range, but you can't narrow it much further.
  • The chat room is free and open 24 hours.
  • You can also send a "wink" to someone of interest. Photo gallery of new members that is updated daily
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BigChurch Dating Service Review

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