The Mystery Worshiper is a recurring feature of the “Ship of Fools” Christian satire website. They send anonymous worshipers to churches all around the world, asking the really important questions: How long was the sermon? How hard the pew? How cold was the coffee? How warm the welcome? And more. It’s often funny, often sad, but always interesting.
What if the Mystery Worshiper came to YOUR church and asked such questions as:
How full was the building?
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Was your pew or seat comfortable?
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
What were the exact opening words of the service?
What books did the congregation use during the service?
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
And which part was like being in… er… the other place?
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
How would you feel about making this church your regular place of worship (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days’ time?
It might not be a bad idea for pastors and church leaders to periodically commission a friend or acquaintance who is not a member of their church to pay a visit and answer questions like these.
Bob Hostetler is a literary agent, an award-winning writer, editor, pastor, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His thirty books, which include The Bone Box and American Idols (The Worship of the American Dream), have sold millions of copies. He has co-authored eleven books with Josh McDowell, including the best-selling Right from Wrong (What You Need to Know to Help Youth Make Right Choices), and the award-winning Don't Check Your Brains at the Door. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award, among others. Bob is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. Bob was ordained to the ministry in 1980 by the Salvation Army and earned degrees in English Bible from Cincinnati Christian University and English Communications from Bloomfield College. In 2000, Bob (with his wife, Robin) helped to co-found Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. They have two children and four grandchildren. He has been a disc jockey, pastor, magazine editor, freelance book editor, and (with Robin) a foster parent to ten boys (though not all at once). They live in Hamilton, Ohio. You can follow Bob at @bobhoss.