“The Pastor Stood on a Diving Board”—Lessons From a Mystery Visitor

An unchurched person reports on an unannounced visit to a local church. Could it be yours?

A 20-something unchurched female visits Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, California—this year’s No. 2 Fastest-Growing church—on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, at 4:30 p.m.


What was it like when you entered the building?

Greeters stood at each door and guided people to the appropriate rooms. After introductions, the greeter escorted me to the room where I could feed my baby. An excitement filled the church, and children were all over the place. I felt welcomed and part of the group. I was in awe from the beginning.

Was it obvious where the children’s ministry was located and that it was clean, secure and well-staffed?

The children’s play area was huge. The babysitting area was open and looked clean. If she were older, I would leave my child in the kid zone. I enjoyed the feeding room. It had nice chairs and a feeding pillow.

Did you observe anything that would lead you to believe that the church values diversity?

The church accepted everyone. I saw diversity, but everyone spoke English. The music appealed to the younger crowd. I saw a few people of different cultures, but it was mostly a Caucasian community. In the bulletin, I found a card to fill out to join an outreach program. I could volunteer within the church or on a mission trip.

Describe the service.

The contemporary music was fantastic. The musicians were definitely sincere, loved being on stage and giving back to the people. The audience engaged and sang along. Greeters were kind and informative, but I don’t think there was any kind of formal visitor greeting. As for the message, quite honestly, I was surprised. The pastor stood on a diving board. However, the message was easier to grasp with the props. The 30-minute message was on how we are living now and for a reason. Everyone leaps into life differently as people jump into the pool differently. We have a choice to take risks or live safely. The bulletin had Scripture notes that I found helpful along with the song lyrics projected on screen.

Overall, how friendly would you say the church was to you during your visit?

I felt welcomed by the greeters. I did not make any friends, but I felt comfortable.

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Would you return to the church?

I would definitely return because I had an opportunity to spend time with God and my child at the same time. I would definitely recommend this church to my family and friends. I had a unique experience.

Additional Observations

Was the nearby community aware of the church?
I stopped at a convenience store in town to ask for directions. The gentleman I spoke to had never heard of the church until he Googled the address.

How was the seating?
The seats were comfortable and perfectly placed. The family worship room had chairs lined up facing televisions on the wall to watch the service. Five other parents and their children were also in the room. I left that room and saw a nursing room that had rocking chairs and water for the mothers.

How recognizable was the church signage?
The signage to the church once I arrived was impeccable. Signs were all over the place. After entering the parking lot, I saw signs directing me where to park. The building was new and beautiful. The inside had signs on the ceiling and labels on the doors. Signs directed me to the children’s room and the auditorium. Signs outside the building identified the church with the worship times. Signs also directed me on where to enter the building.

How was the post-service atmosphere?
No one approached me after the service. It felt a little bit like a school event once it ended. It would be kind to offer a gift to stay connected. The other parents were kind and welcoming to my baby and me. The overall atmosphere of the church was positive. People were talking to each other and laughing. Children were playing with each other and it felt safe.

How would you rate the information resources?
All the resources and the website were a nice touch to the church. The commitment to the people and community of the church was nothing that I have seen. It was nice that anyone can come and join. The bulletin consisted of information on how to pray and gave reasons of praying for 21 days. It also consisted of the pastor’s name, a Bible verse and information to join the volunteer group or contact list. The website was easy to navigate because of the videos. In my bulletin, I received a card to enter my contact information. I chose to fill it out. The website was a resource to new guests who needed to find convenient locations or wanted a preview of the service.

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What is your overall impression?
I loved the church. It exceeded all of my expectations of a traditional church. No one tried to convert me or make me join the church. It was up to the individual. I would also like to request more music. As of now (four days since my visit), I have not heard from the church.

Adapted from a report provided by Faith Perceptions, which has evaluated more than 7,200 worship services across the United States. Visit FaithPerceptions.com.