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I wanna be a Secret Church Shopper!

October 16, 2009

I think a great job would be a Secret Shopper.  Businesses use them all the time to bust employees and get a fresh set of eyes into their environment.  I think it would be BEYOND awesome to be a Secret Church Shopper.

Come on in...

Come on in...

Can you imagine a church contacting me and asking for my fresh set of eyes to look at what they do and give them feedback?  What would they say when I gave them honest feedback about their staff, programs, building, grounds, services, friendliness, coffee, or more?  How many churches have forgotten what it’s like to be the one visiting and SEARCHING for a church home?  Would they want me to come back for a few weeks or would I be a one-time visitor?  I could handle either one.  If you’re interested in honesty and fresh eyes…gimme a call.

My bet is more than half of the churches out there don’t think about those people coming for the very first time.  When they do, they make sure they put their best foot forward and are presentable…much like our family does when we know guests are coming.  We throw the basket of un-folded laundry into the bedroom closet and swear we won’t let that get out of hand again…

My experience as a staff guy was always to look at things through the eyes of a first time guest.  What did they see, what did they notice, what did they hear, what did they SMELL (seriously), what are we giving them, etc.  I was good at it.  I know I was a part of more than one church which tried to make sure guests felt welcomed.  Then what happens when the sights, smells, sounds, and swag was good?  What did they begin to notice once they were looking at the church as a place to become a member of?

Did they expect me to contact them?  Most of the time they never acted like it.  I HATE COLD CALLS.  I really didn’t like contacting first-time visitors either.  I know as a minister it was part of my job and I did it with a smile in my voice, but the reality was…most people didn’t want that call.  They wanted to connect with me and get to know me personally, not have me give them the laundry list of who we are and why we’re better than the church down the street.  They want to FEEL connected not be told to connect.  They wanted INVITING not an invitation.

When was the last time you seriously visited a church with the thought of actually visiting it again.  I know a ton of ministers who visit other churches when they are out of town, on vacation, or even during their sabbatical.  The question I have for them though, is how much do you really get from that?  Sure you get some great ideas to take back home, but do you even consider looking past what transfers to YOUR church and feel comfortable and invited?  Would you even consider wanting to be a part of something like it?

Think about it…we work so hard in the church world to make things APPEAR inviting and the reality is they do…APPEAR inviting.  It’s what happens when someone walks through the door and doesn’t care how big your screens are, if you are in HD,  if you have PS3’s in the Youth area, or if you have a Disney-rivaling children’s area.  What happens when people are looking past all the fluff for the REAL?

Here’s my proposal:

I’ll come to your church (I’ll even bring my family if you want me to give you the complete package review) and observe.  You have certain areas you want me to give you feedback on, I’ll pay extra special attention to them for you.  You want my unfiltered opinion?  I’ll be MORE THAN WILLING to give you that. I will be discreet, quiet, and completely private with you.  I won’t even use your name as I blog about you or I will brag on you with your permission.

Here’s what I want in return: I want to meet with you afterward.  I want to meet with whoever was willing to bring me in…one on one.  You want me to present to the staff?  I can do that.  I just want to make sure the person who wanted to bring me in gets a chance to ask questions.  I will present you my findings, thoughts, and opinions in written or verbal form.  I just want you to know I’m serious when I talk to you.  I might offend you by letting you know your church ISN’T as friendly as YOU say they are.  I might say my kids didn’t like your $20 million Children’s Mega-Mall Building.  I might let you know as a parent of a special needs child, you have NOTHING for me.  I might say my teenage son had a complete blast in your youth group but couldn’t tell me a single thing he heard about the Bible.  I might tell you your preaching was some of the best I have heard in my LIFE, but the music made me long for an ear infection that clouded my hearing…or at least an ice pick–I’m not kidding here.

I want churches to be the link to God on this planet.  I want them to be successful and not stuck in ruts.  I want them to flourish rather than flounder.  The problem is, when you get so in-trenched in the inner workings of a church, you have a tendency to forget what is real.  People like me who are searching for a church are serious.  I didn’t buy a car just because my friend had one…I might have test-drove one like his, but I didn’t buy it until I was SURE I wanted it.  I want to make sure you’re seeing it through the eyes of a person who is looking…something most staff people aren’t doing.

When was the last time you CHOSE where you went to church?  For me, July 21, 2008 was the first time in almost 15 years of marriage (at that time) we had CHOSEN where to go as a family.  It was tough and painful, but man oh man has it opened my eyes to some amazing and amazingly BAD things.

Let me know if I can be of help…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2009 2:59 pm

    And if they want a twenty something cynical ex PK they can call me!!

  2. October 16, 2009 3:20 pm

    Great Idea Mike. If you need a partner in this endeavor, let me know…

  3. Sherry Wilson permalink
    October 16, 2009 7:13 pm

    Some wonderful thoughts that MANY CHURCH PEOPLE NEED AND SHOULD EARNESTLY pray about!!!
    Praying for your family that God will put you where each of you should be!!

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