Frequently Asked Questions

How is this different from hiring a professional church consultant? For starters, our approach is completely different in that we use multiple people who aren’t regularly attending church anywhere to give you feedback. A professional consultant provides you with one opinion (theirs).

How soon can you start sending mystery guests to our church? As soon as we have some basic information on the church, a signed agreement, and payment.

How long does it take to get our report? The time needed to generate a report is greatly dependent upon the location of the church and the number of mystery guests we are sending. For instance, sending 12 mystery guests could take 3-4 months to complete (longer in rural or hard to reach areas). If you’re in a hurry, we may be able to expedite the study. 

Can we select the demographics of our mystery guests? Yes. Churches that have an outreach to a specific demographic such as college age, African American, or Hispanic services and would like for mystery guests to reflect that desired demographic may request this. These studies can take longer to complete and may require targeted advertising to find the right mystery guests.

Should I tell anyone that we are doing the Mystery Guest Program? It's better if you don't. Our desire is to capture “church as usual” so that we can provide you with a true picture of what your church is like through the eyes of a guest. With that in mind, we recommend that you tell as few people as possible about the mystery guest study until we’ve completed all of the visits. When people are aware that mystery guests are coming, they might be tempted to engage them in a way that is different from what someone would normally experience and that can affect the research. Once we’ve completed the study, and you have your report, we can help you determine when and how to share this information.

Can’t I just do this myself? Sure, but keep in mind that asking for feedback from people you know won’t give you the unbiased feedback you’re looking for. People you know aren’t as willing to give you bad news because they’re afraid of hurting your feelings. Since mystery guests attend the church anonymously and submit their thoughts to us - not you - they’re not afraid to tell the whole truth because they have no affiliation with your church and don't regularly attend any other church.

How many mystery guests should we get to visit our church? The more people we send, the more reliable the final report. And not just because we say so.  Standard practice in any market research is to obtain a certain number of data points in order to have increased confidence in the findings. Therefore, we never send just one mystery guest to provide an outside perspective, but instead we send a number of different people. This allows us (and you) to see whether there are any running themes - good or bad. We will work with you to decide how many visits you need based on the size of the church and your budget.

How do you find mystery guests? We have thousands of mystery guests in our database already. We add to it through traditional advertising - some online, some local media, some word-of-mouth.

Do you train your mystery guests? No. Our goal is for them to have an authentic experience and we can't train for that. Do we ask them to adhere to and comply with our standards of research and expectations? Yes.

How often do you send mystery guests? We make it a point to spread out the mystery guest visits over a period of time. For example, if your church has two services and we are sending 12 mystery guests then we try to send one or two mystery guests each weekend until we’ve completed the study.  We can't spot trends if everyone is there at once.

Once the study is over what happens? We put together a report of all the data and walk you through the findings so you know exactly what your church's strengths are in making guests feel welcome and where you can improve.

I know my church is friendly, so why do we need to do this?  Most church members share your opinion. The difference here is that we need to ensure that your church isn't only friendly with its members. There is a big difference in being friendly and being welcoming. It's the outsiders' perspectives that we gather.

What if we need help with putting together a welcoming process? We do that too. We can help you develop the process and can also train your welcoming/hospitality teams.

Do you do other research besides the Mystery Guest Program?  Yes. Whether you want to start another site, discover why your contemporary service isn’t growing, or you want to learn more about your community, we can conduct focus groups and surveys on just about anything you want to know.