12 More Reflections from Church “Spies”

Some years ago, I wrote a post called8 Confessions of Church Spiesbased on the work of our church consulting company, The Lawless Group. With this post, I want to add some specific comments from more recent “spies.” Maybe they will lead you to consider your own church’s situation.

  1. “We couldn’t tell where the front door was.” The problem was that the church had many doors, and none looked like a main entrance.
  2. “It was clear the church cares about their building.” It was clean, neat, and well-cared for. Excellence was the standard.
  3. “The congregation enjoys worshiping together.” You can usually tell when that’s the case – just as you can usually tell when they don’t care much about worship.
  4. “One person came out of her way to greet me in the sanctuary.” In this case, the spy was already seated in the worship center – but the church had greeters stationed there to greet anyone they didn’t know.
  5. “The location wasn’t the easiest to find.” Let me put it this way: if it weren’t for GPS, our spy isn’t sure he would have easily found the building.
  6. “We would consider going back to this church for the preaching.” It was clear, biblical, and applicational.
  7. “We didn’t see the guest parking until after we’d already parked.” That happens sometimes – the guest parking is so isolated or hard to see that no one even knows it’s there.
  8. “Nobody spoke to us other than greeters at the door.” It’s not unusual to hear that comment when we send spies to churches.
  9. “Nobody was at the Welcome Center when we arrived.” Needless to say, that’s a problem.
  10. “I got to the small group on time, and nobody was there yet.” That’s also a problem. Guests who arrive just prior to starting time should not be the only ones in the room.
  11. “It was easy to walk through the children’s area.” Ease of access to a children’s area is usually a sign that the church hasn’t instituted sufficient security and safety measures yet.
  12. “Nobody explained children’s church.” This church released their children from the worship service to go to children’s church, but no one explained details for guests (e.g., What ages could attend? Where would the children be? Who would be leading them?, etc.). Parents aren’t likely to release their kids when they don’t know these details.

Do any of these comments speak to your church?


  • LLK says:

    The post Sounds like marketing over the mission of the church. We are at war against the world, the Flesh, the spiritual wickedness and we are talking about “church spies” and “Visitors parking” spots! The American church has lost it urgency and vision. I want my parking space, I want to be catered too, I want etc. pray brothers and sisters pray

    • Robin G. Jordan says:

      I respectfully disagree with your assessment of this post. Whether or not they realize it churches erect barriers to hearing the gospel.These barriers take a variety of forms. Some of these barriers may surprise you. If your approach to proclaiming the gospel is to have people come to your church to hear it, then you must be attentive to the barriers that they must cross in order to hear it, the barriers that may prevent them from hearing it. There is nothing ungodly about reducing or eliminating these barriers. If your approach is to take the gospel to the people rather than have them come to you to hear it, you still need to be attentive to the barriers that you yourself may be creating to them hearing it. Going to a public place with a bullhorn and haranguing passerby, for example, is not an effective way of sharing the gospel. On the other hand mixing with unsaved people, forming relationships, taking time to listen to them, building trust, earning a hearing from them, sensing the right opportunity, sharing with them the good news, and continuing to be their friend, and loving them even if they do not respond right away or respond at all is far more effective way of telling people about Jesus. We live the message as well as share it. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that moves people to accept Jesus. Our task is to prepare the ground, to plant the seed, and where the young plant has sprung up, water and tend it. It is God himself who germinates the seed and causes it to grow.

  • Robin G. Jordan says:

    “The location wasn’t the easiest to find.” I immediately thought a small rural church that I have visited on two occasions. Even with GPS a first time guest would have difficulty finding the building. It is located some distance off a county road. It is at the end of a long gravel drive and is invisible from the highway. It has one tiny sign at the entrance to the driveway. which is easy to miss. I drove past it and did not notice it. The church has a website but the address given on the website is the pastor’s and he lives a good distance from the church. If the first time guest is new to the area, he will easily get lost. I got lost on both occasions that I visited. If had not been supplying the music on the first occasion and had wanted to meet the guest preacher on the second occasion, I would have turned around and gone home.

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