Get Thee Behind Us
"Church Check, a division of parent company Guest Check Inc., announced today the immediate availability of a new service offering, widely differing in scope from its current client base within the hospitality industry."
Thus begins a news release we received at the Christianity Today offices this week. The name "Church Check" naturally caught our attention, as did the offer of the new service. So we read on:
After years of success focusing only in Hospitality, Guest Check was approached by a single church congregation over two years ago, and was asked to consider providing inspection services. Their primary goal was to assess the Sunday morning experience of a non-biased third party visitor … . The church leadership wanted to get an unbiased and anonymous review of the "guest" experience.
For more information, the reader was invited to go to http://www.thechurchcheck.com, which we did. There we found the idea further explained:
Our team of savvy professionals can secretly worship at your church, analyze it in detail, and present you with a report detailing items that are lacking. With this report, you can make changes that boost your retention rate and make your church grow. Make the adjustments our team suggests and you'll not only retain more of your first-time visitors, you'll get them talking to their friends about you.
Guest Check helps you create an environment in which your guests enjoy themselves so much they don't want to leave. More importantly, we help you create a church whose guests can't stop talking about, and we all know the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
So what do these "church inspectors," as they are called, bring with them as they assess these churches?
Regardless of the church's religious affiliation, inspectors must willing to make the visit with an open mind, and be comfortable assessing your experience on a very objective, and non-emotional level. Successful Church Check Inspectors are professional, attentive, organized and able to express their observations objectively and without emotion.
And why, right now, might churches need this service?
Americans are getting less and less dogmatic about their religion and it's becoming more difficult for churches to keep their guests. Recent studies show that 66% of Americans with church affiliations believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. 68% believe that there is more than one way to interpret the teachings of their religion … .
Statistics like this show that more than ever, Americans have no problem with church-shopping, or leaving their current congregation and moving on to another.
It's hard to know where to begin. This is a near-perfect example of what happens when we let marketing experts into the church building.
Even if I attempt to speak a charitable word (as I always try to do in such moments), it only points to a deep and abiding flaw in the contemporary church. The modern American church is often so large and so businesslike in its approach to ministry that it easily loses track of new people who might walk in the door. Most churches long ago abandoned the idea that a church can be a genuine community—where people really know each another, where they notice every single visitor and strike up conversations with them during and after Sunday morning. In a genuine community, there would be absolutely no need of mystery "church inspectors," because the community would know precisely how they practice the gift of hospitality. But the contemporary church is so lost and desperate for "tools" and "resources" that can help them "study" their "guests," even this might help.
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
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