This Secret Shopper Gives an “F” for Lack of Care

. at . 8 comments

The music set was was, well, worshipful, lengthy (about 6 -7 songs – which I loved), led by a talented barefoot musician and backed up by 5 others (singers and instrumentalists) – 3  of these were also barefoot. We praised God, confessed our sins, and got our souls ready to hear the Word.

The preaching was full of talented discourse, wise admonitions, appropriate humour, and moved me closer to God’s viewpoint.

It was obvious that the worship team had practised and thought about that day’s collection of songs- using their relationship with God to lead us into worship well.

It was obvious that the pastor had spent his study time well – using good hermeneutics to share the background of the passage which made the Word relevant, engaging our minds and hearts.

It was obvious that no-one cared that I was there. At least not . . .

  •  . . . the Greeter who smiled but didn’t talk to me. She talked to those in front of and behind me.
  •  . . . the Woman at the woman’s ministry desk guarding her stash of brochures. I asked if I could take some material. Her “sure” came with another smile, but no words of explanation or invitation followed.
  • . . . the Hostess at the coffee bar who said “Yes, I could take the coffee into the sanctuary because it had a lid on it.” No follow-up with, “So, you are new here?” Or “Can I help you get settled?”
  • . . .  the Pastor  who spent in-depth time with friends after the sermon. He spent 10 minutes speaking with a couple about the church-sponsored missions trip, and another 5 minutes of time with a woman who had a notebook full of questions. They were just getting started so I, the stranger, left.
  • the Congregation comprised mostly of couples (in their mid 20’s through their 30’s) and kids who took seriously the admonition to greet one another. Only NONE greeted me. A single woman. Talking  to NO one.

At least it felt like no-one cared.

I am happily involved at my church. I went to this one as an assignment for school. I went looking for new ideas I could bring to my church. But first, my new ideas for this church.

If I was a secret shopper, I’d give you an “F.” Here’s what I’d say:

Greeters/ushers– Look people in the eye and be on the look out for strangers. Make it your mission to be good at welcoming people not handing out the bulletin. Talk to people you don’t lnow.

Information people – Help those who come to your table to feel like you want them to be a part of your “group” by asking questions, seeing how you can help them plug in.

Hostesses – When people ask questions that make it obvious they are first-timers, engage them in conversation which shows you are glad they are there. Help them feel comfortable and a sense of connection.

Pastor – Make it an important priority to say “hello” to the many instead of having in-depth conversations with a few. For those who want/need more of your time, have them make an appointment. I just wanted a minute to say, “Hello, I enjoyed your message and am motivated to change ________ in my life as a result of your message.”

Congregation – While it is rewarding to speak with friends at church,  what about the stranger?  Yes, the stranger has an obligation to become part of the Body, but make it a little easy but noticing her. . . by noticing him. . . who is alone.

I didn’t come for fellowship and thought I didn’t need any. I was wrong. I sorely missed out on that hello and small talk that communicated “I see you” and showed me that I was welcome.

This Sunday I will look at my church though the eyes of a newcomer to see how we rate.

Here’s a radical thought.What if for one sunday we made it a a priority to greet the “stranger” in our congregations?  Besides greeting the first timer, the stranger also includes those we see every week but don’t know/remember their name.

Entry filed under: Main.

August Declutter Challenge – Day 24 (Clutter Goes to a Good Cause) August Declutter Challenge – Day 25 (Books)

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amanda  |  . at .

    very well done review of the church. Thats too bad you didnt feel more noticed. Hopefully you can share some love with strangers who might feel the same way at your church.

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  • 2. susan2009  |  . at .

    Amanda, That is exactly my aim at church these days. Instead of talking at length with friends, I am trying to spend more time with strangers or those I don’t normally speak to.

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  • 3. Kate  |  . at .

    What food for thought this week, in preparation for next Sunday! I am new to your blog but very much appreciate finding these honest and well-thought-out words.

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  • 4. Marcia "HDMac" McFarlane  |  . at .

    That is sad, isn’t it? The church needs to open it’s arms and sometimes we are so set in our ways and in with our cliques, we can’t let anyone else in…. that is so wrong…

    Also, wanted to let you know that I posted the no roll sugar cookies on my blog! 🙂

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  • 5. laurelplumonline  |  . at .

    I have always felt that I reach out to include others. Your experience makes me realize that I need to make a point to search out. I wonder how many people in a similar situations as yours I have neglected simply from lack of taking the time to notice? Thank you.

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  • 6. Theresa  |  . at .

    Hubby and I have had that experience at a LOT of churches in our area and is one of the reasons why we came back to CNC – it was one of the only churches where people actually tlaked to us! Honestly, I think that you should send the report to the church, even if you send it anonymously with a note saying that you are sending it in love in order to help.

    Church is the last place anyone should feel like they were on the outside looking in!

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  • 7. lynette  |  . at .

    I went to a church. The usher said to me “now where is that smile of yours” whle I was hiding behind a bulletin? I did not reply I left it in the trash at home, I just smiled & nodded Good Morning. He said something about keeping there & scooted off to get some over poor lass to smile. I was not in a smiling mood that day.

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  • 8. susan2009  |  . at .

    Kate – thanks for your kind words. Welcome to my blog.

    Marcia – I am sure I have been guilty of such a closed mindset, all because I wasn’t paying attention. Hopefully I will now live with my eyes oopen (at least at church) . Thanks for the recipe. ext time I go shopping I’ll get some Crisco and then make a batch.

    Laurel – Your site is so helpful. Thanks for visitng here.

    Theresa – I am praying about sharing my observations with the pastor in person. He is someone I know. I want to pray and let God lead in this.

    Lynette – I promise to never tell you to smile when you come to our church. In fact, if I see a frown, I’ll sit right beside you and put my best frown on too. I’m sure that’s biblical. ‘-)

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