How We Do Church Secret Shoppers For Just $60

I want to share with you how we get local unchurched people to be your Secret Shoppers / Secret Worshippers for just $60!


We didn’t want a church consultant to tell us what they thought about our church.


Instead, we wanted to know what an actual unchurched New Englander thought about our church. Plus we didn’t have the budget for consultant!


The first thing I did was I made sure to tell our team that someone was coming to grade how we do our weekend services but I didn’t tell them the date. This sorta put a fire under them and they all worked a few things they were dragging their feet on!


Then I posted a job on TaskRabbit, it’s kinda like Uber but for small tasks. I put the job under their events section. I know TaskRabbit isn’t in every area of the country but you can use craigslist as well. I liked using a third party service like TaskRabbit because they let me see who I’m hiring, they also have a messaging function, they let me report previous tasks and they handle the payment processing.


Job Posting Sites


I was pretty vague in the job description because I didn’t want to tell them it was a church.


Here’s what we actually posted.


Secret Shopper Needed!!

We are hosting an event and we want you to help us get better.

Attend our event and immediately after fill out an online survey. It’s that easy!

The event starts at 9:15am and goes till 11am.”


Our service didn’t start till 9:30 but I wanted the person to be there a little early because I think most of our first time guests come about 10 minutes early.


Once a got a few people to respond asking for more details, I told them it was a church and that I was wanting to improve how we were serving our first time guests.


The first person we had come out was a gay 21 year old college student that went to a Universal Unitarian church with his Grandmother but hasn’t been back in over 12 years and he was SUPER excited to come to our church!!


I told the secret shopper to act like a first time guest. I didn’t even give him our address, I just gave him our website and told him what day I time I wanted him there.


In the original job posting I said that I wanted them to fill out an online survey but after thinking about for a little while I thought that maybe the online survey wasn’t going to give me everything I wanted out this visit.


I really wanted to talk with the secret shopper, I thought that an actual face to face conversation would give me more of a sense of how they felt through the visit. So I ditched the online survey and wrote down 20 questions I wanted ask.


TaskRabbit allows you to text in the app, so after the service was over I told him to meet me in the cafe. I brought my notebook and told him to please be brutally honest. I think I said it like 3 times! I wanted him to know that there was nothing he could say that would offended me.


I started by asking him to walk me through his visit, starting with our website.


We talked for about an hour. It was amazing!


Here are the questions I asked.

  1. Was our website easy to navigate?
  2. What areas of the site did you visit and why?
  3. What should we add to our website?
  4. Was the physical address easy to find on our site?
  5. Was our location easy to find?
  6. How was the curb appeal?
  7. What were your initial impressions?
  8. Describe the flow of your visit?
  9. What interactions did you have with volunteers?
  10. Were there times you found yourself more engaged in the service?
  11. Were there times you felt disengaged?
  12. Where there times you felt uncomfortable?
  13. What would make you feel more comfortable or engaged?
  14. Were there any moments you confused or nervous?
  15. What did you like most?
  16. What did you like least?
  17. Was the message easy to understand?
  18. Was the closing of the message clear?
  19. How could we be more helpful to first time guests?
  20. Was there anything you noticed that I didn’t ask about?



What surprised me most was not what he said, it was what he didn’t say.


At the end of each service we ask first timers to fill out the communication card and drop it in the offering basket. Then we say that we have a small gift for them in the connection center.


When I was talking with him he mentioned the card but not the connection center or the gift.


So then I asked him what he thought about the connection center and his reply was “what’s that.”


What’s that. What’s that!


The connection center is one of the most important places for us to make a personal connection with first time guests and he had no idea it even existed.


So I drilled down on his experience and what he remembered about the closing of the service.


He was so focused on filling out the communication card that he tuned out the part about the connection center and the free gift.


Major Takeaway #1

We needed to make our closing communication more simple and put it in an order that made it easier for our guests to take the actions were wanting them to take.


Toward the end of our conversation he tells me that he really liked our church but it was a little far away. Then he asked me the most off the wall questions an unchurched 21 year student could ask.


“Do you have another location closer to me?”




At first I thought he might be talking about another church of the same denomination. So I ask him what he meant.


He said “This church just another location.”

So I said “who would do the teaching?”


He responded “show a video?”


What he didn’t know is that we were considering starting a video campus in his town but we weren’t sure if unchurched New Englanders would open to video teaching.


But here we had an unchurched New Englander telling us the exact opposite.


So I doubled back and asked him specifically about video teaching and he said he watched the side screens the whole time anyway.


He had no hesitation about going to a video campus!


Major Takeaway #2

Always test your assumptions.


I assumed that an unchurched person would hate the idea of getting the main teaching via video. We actually have delayed starting a campus because of that assumption BUT we never actually asked an unchurched person what THEY thought about video.


Now What?

Go and post a job!

This is so easy to do and is hardly any investment at all.

Get a local unchurched person to be your secret shopper within the next month and start making your first impressions better!

Brian Beauford

Brian helped Grace Church get started and has played a role in almost every ministry at Grace over the years. Brian now oversees, the weekend experiences, communications, marketing and location expansions.