Every church would like more first-time guests!  How easy is your church making it for first-time guests to find your church online, details about your online worship experience, and join you for worship?  One of our mystery worshipers had an interesting experience this weekend.  There is a two-fold learning experience about her experience to share in hopes that other churches are not unknowingly creating these same two barriers for first-time guests to join your congregation in online worship.

The first barrier our mystery worshiper experienced was finding an online presence.  The only church website listing showed the onsite address and phone number only.  The mystery worshiper called the church.  The recording on the landline had no mention of an online worship service.  After more extensive searches, the mystery worshiper then found a church Facebook page, but again there was no mention of an online worship experience.  Only the in-person experience was mentioned in the “about” information on Facebook.  The mystery worshiper posted an inquiry and another person responded with the online worship time.

The second barrier our mystery worshiper encountered was when she returned to the Facebook page the following day at the designated time for online worship.  She found no way to access worship.  Again, after another inquiry that was answered hours after the worship experience had concluded, she discovered that an invitation link had to be sent in order to join worship.  The mystery worshiper was able to only watch the recorded version of the worship experience posted later missing all interaction and any possible connection.

Of course, we all know that had this person been a true seeker, there is absolutely no way she would have gone through the multiple frustrating steps to join worship.  S/he would have given up at the first struggle and walked away.  In her assessment, the mystery worshiper used the words “frustrating” and “disappointing” multiple times in describing her experience.  This obviously tainted the rest of her worship experience, overall assessment scores, and willingness to return and recommend.  Imagine the ripple effect this could kind of experience could do for your church’s reputation if this were a true first-time guest.  Without easy, open access first-time guests are given impressions such as they are not welcome, it’s for insiders only, or there is no online worship.

Coincidently, in another online mystery worshiper experience this weekend, she easily found the church’s website with the onsite worshiper experience prominently displayed.  There was absolutely no mention of the online worship experience.  In visiting past posts on their Facebook page, one could see there were recordings of their worship experience.  But she had no way of knowing there was a livestream on Facebook as a first-time guest.

Over the past year many churches have gone to great lengths to create or enhance their online worship experiences by investing in equipment, software, and learning curves.  This is just a friendly reminder to make sure first-time guests can easily locate and access your online worship experiences and there are worship hosts ready to receive, interact, and connect with first-time guests.  The church has entered the very ripe online mission field.  Let’s make sure our guests are welcomed with easy access and extravagant hospitality!

If you are curious how first-time guests experience your online or in-person worship, first gain valuable insights from mystery worshipers so you can be well-prepared to receive first-time guests.  Visit ImpressionsUnlimited.org for more information.