“A Lot of Innovative Ideas” — Lessons From a Mystery Visit

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

—A 50-something female visits a 300-attendee church in Galveston, Texas, on May 5S, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.


What was it like when you entered the building?
I was content with how I was greeted. A kind gentleman offered me coffee. If I were a coffee drinker, I would have taken him up on his offer.

Was it obvious where the children’s ministry was located and that it was clean, secure and well-staffed?
Initially, when we entered the church, I liked the colorful signage directing me where to take my grandchildren. I loved the friendly young lady at the sign-in table. However, the ladies in the 2-year-old room need a bit of help. I was the one who initiated the interaction and did not feel comfortable leaving my granddaughter in that room. (I was able to leave the two grandkids together in a different room.)

Did you observe anything that would lead you to believe that the church values diversity?
I observed diversity among the musicians and members in the sanctuary.

Describe the service.
I enjoyed the contemporary music. Judging by their facial expressions, the musicians were delighted to be playing. I really liked having the song lyrics on the screen. It allowed everyone to sing along. The message was really appropriate because this Sunday was an awareness day for abused children. I like how the pastor brought in a guest speaker who described the four categories of people: wise, simple, foolish and wicked. I easily grasped the concept of the 20-minute message. With two grandchildren, it was relevant to me. I must do everything in my power to protect them from “the wicked” people. This, within itself, made it an intriguing message. A bonus, to me, was when the pastor had another lady speak about a parent/child dedication on Mother’s Day. The pastor was comfortable conveying his message to the congregation and piqued everyone’s interest with several videos.

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Overall, how friendly would you say the church was to you during your visit?
I felt welcomed by everyone, especially the friendly young lady at the children’s sign-in table. She made me feel comfortable by telling me I could have both of my grandchildren in the same room.

Would you return to the church?
I would return, but not with my grandchildren. The church has a lot of innovative ideas for people from all walks of life. I could see myself relocating here and becoming a member of this church. I would also encourage others I know to attend this church. I see this church attracting families best.


Was the nearby community aware of the church?
The business I stopped by was able to give precise directions to the church. This business was very familiar with the church and its location.

How was the seating?
The chairs were uncomfortable. After listening to the pastor comment about the volunteers who set up, I appreciated the fact that comfort wasn’t as important as enjoying the warm feeling and sincere smiles. The seats were also closely arranged to accommodate more people in the large area.

How recognizable was the church signage?
The exterior signage was superb. It contained information such as hours of worship and the church’s website. However, I wasn’t certain which door to enter in order to gain access to the building. I watched another patron and followed him. I loved the fact that there was a colorful sign directing me to the room for my two grandchildren, as well as directing me where worship services would be held.

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How was the post-service atmosphere?
After the service ended, I met a lady who introduced herself and guessed my grandson’s age. She also shared with me how well behaved he was and how she remembered when her grandson was that age. She welcomed me to come back and visit and I told her I certainly would.

How would you rate the information resources?
This church had impressive resources like brochures and an information table with t-shirts, pens and Bibles. In addition, there was a program, a visitor card, a volunteer card and a budget/offering tithe envelope in all of the chairs for members and/or guests. I had an opportunity to write my information on the visitor card, but I did not have time to fill out the required information. On the website, you can read and see the experience you can expect as a first-time guest.

What is your overall impression?
A suggestion for the teachers in the children’s room would be focusing on interacting with grandparents/parents for the children’s sake. I would also like to see more diversity on the website in the same manner as it’s exemplified during church services.

Check out more Mystery Visitor reports »