12 “Surprisingly” Friendly Experiences of Church Secret Shoppers

If you read this blog often, you know I at times report on the general findings of church consultation “secret shoppers.” This particular post is fun because I’m describing ways shoppers have been surprised by how a church showed friendliness.

  1. “The website had a video ‘invitation for guests.’” Clearly located on the site, it was hard for potential attenders to miss it – and harder not to feel invited if they watched it. 
  2. “They had clearly marked parking not only for guests, but also for senior adults and families with preschoolers.” And, the parking spaces were close to the most logical doors for these folks to enter. 
  3. “Greeters in the parking lot had umbrellas for everyone.” Nobody had to walk in the rain without protection. 
  4. “In the small group, somebody asked my name, and then she introduced me.” This approach allowed a shopper to be welcomed without being put on the spot to introduce herself to the group. 
  5. “Several members shook hands with me, and the pastor didn’t even tell them to do it.” You can tell that this shopper was accustomed to the traditional, forced “meet and greet” time that few people seem to enjoy.   
  6. “Somebody asked my name before the service and remembered it at the end.” It’s hard to underestimate what it means when somebody actually knows your name, especially when you’re a first-time guest. 
  7. “A man actually got up and gave me his seat.” To be honest, we don’t hear this kind of report often.
  8. “Everybody was wearing a name tag.” I’ve floated this idea in the past on this site, and several folks took me to task. For this shopper, however, knowing everybody’s name was a plus. 
  9. “A member asked how she could pray for me.” Not everyone who visits would like this kind of friendliness, but a gentle, unassuming prayer warrior can surprise lonely hearts. 
  10. “All the leaders on the stage introduced themselves.” As a first-time guest, how else would I recognize who they are? Leaders invite others to know them when they tell their names each week. If the church uses screens, at least a name on the screen is a start. 
  11. “They had a small gift for my kids at the welcome center.” Most churches that provide a small gift for guests provide something for adults, not for their children. 
  12. “The church even had greeters at the doors and in the parking lot as we left!” Greeters before a service are often expected; greeters after the service are a surprise. 

What other “surprisingly” friendly experiences have you had at churches? 


  • Louis Cook says:

    On our first visit to a church in Berkeley, CA we had a member couple ask us to lunch. Now many might not like that on the first visit but it did allow us to meet and talk to this couple away from church and get a better understanding of the church.

    I really like the name tag idea as I am bad at remembering names but also because it can break down that initial barrier between a visitor and member. When someone addresses me by name it puts me at ease.

    The gift idea should be a usable and not a junky item for both the adults and kids. The dinky Happy Meal kind of gift for a kid is quickly tossed and forgotten while something useful like maybe a coffee cup might be used many times.

    Last thing is I think the follow-up form letter is a dud. I would be more impressed with a quick phone call. The letter is read quickly and recycled while a call helps connect you to someone.

  • Steve Watson says:

    Great article. So much good that we can improve upon.

    I don’t remember names first time at all. So as soon after meeting someone as I can, I enter their names into Evernote along with something about them (who they were with, age, kids, something to help me remember who they were). Then I try to catch them after service to use their name again. And I specifically look for them in subsequent weeks so that I can use their names again. And I always give them my name on subsequent greetings do that they don’t have to ask.

    It is great to approach someone and be able to call them by name. They always react positively to it. And it is a bonus if you can greet their children by name as well.

    It isn’t easy, but it can be done if you do it on purpose.

  • Jackie L says:

    It would be so helpful if everyone who spoke from the platform introduced themselves. Even when someone starts preaching, you’re not sure if it’s the pastor or perhaps an associate while the pastor is away. I was visiting a church in Louisville, KY and was late getting to the service. Just as I reached a pew near the back the meet & greet time started. I was frazzled and out of breath and a lady about my age smiled at me and said, “Welcome, you made it! Now just relax and enjoy the service.” I really liked that!

  • Kevin says:

    I disagree with a no stand and greet. I went to a church they first introduce the new comers then stand and greet this was awkward to the new comers. So the Pastor ceased the stand and greet. This made every believer go back to a silo effect. Which just move to more clicks. Unless we are intentional in our show of Christian greeting “holy Kiss”. We never apply the word by our actions. I believe every new believer needs to be disciple in greeting everyone they can when they first come to church. I’m glad the church I attend has a stand and greet. It shows how much my fellow believers care.

  • Jim says:

    How does the sociological finding that a person can only have up to 150 close relationships fit into your comment?

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