This is part 8 of a 9-part series on attending church from a visitor’s perspective. You can read the original post to get a better understanding of David’s experience visiting churches for the first time.
I don’t know if any of you share my experience, but I was introduced to Church Marketing Sucks from my favorite magazine—The Wittenberg Door. This magazine keeps me grounded in reality and reminds me that the church and I desperately need Jesus because we are so messed up. This same thing is true about another web site I heard about from The Door—Ship of Fools.
Whenever I visit the site, after checking the daily percent of rapture and shopping through the Gadgets for God, I make my way to the Mystery Worshipper. The Mystery Worshipper is a secret team of church-reviewers who visit churches all over the world. They have a standard set of questions that they ask of each church service—questions that I think all churches should constantly be asking of themselves. After all, most visitors will be asking these questions too.
How full was the building? If you’ve ever shown up early to a church with only a few members or shown up late to a church with too many people you know how the capacity of the building can make you feel about the service.
Did anyone welcome you personally? That is, who didn’t have a name tag that says, “Greeter.” The “passing of the peace” doesn’t count either.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere? Did everyone talk with their friends or include you? Did everyone seem glad to be there or were they so “reverent” that it seemed like a funeral home?
Did anything distract you? I’ve been to churches that had train tracks run beside them and one that met in a bowling alley. Distractions aren’t always auditory. I once met in a Karate studio that couldn’t shake the smell of sweaty men.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven? And which part was like being in… er… the other place? Isn’t our worship a foretaste of what we’ll be doing for an eternity?
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
How would you describe the after-church coffee? I guess in England, they have after-church coffee. Most churches I’ve been to in the US drink their coffee before church. The point remains—do you include your visitors or just talk with your friends?
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian? Or want to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about this in seven days’ time? Often times it’s the bad things that stick in our memory. Using questions like these can help you notice some things you’ve never considered before and catch them before you leave your visitors with a bad first impression.
- Learn more about how to welcome church visitors with this massive collection of resources and blog posts.
- Walking into a church for the first time can be scary. Check out Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors by Jonathan Malm for practical ideas and perspective on first-time guests.