So, some sidebar on some site sent me down one of those internet rabbit holes, and I came out the other side of the mirror reading about church secret shoppers. And I remembered…I was totally secret-shopped (that sounds…odd) at my old church! Now, my disclaimer here: this was almost five years ago, about one year before I started this blog. Which, of course, by that time I was the consummate, professional, would-be-Christian-radio-staple-multi-platinum-win-all-the-dove-awards-away-from-DC-Talk-if-only-I-weren’t-so-humble artistic wonder you see before you now. If they secret-shopped me at a service today, they’d be on the phone with Capitol Records in an instant, floored by a worship leader who copies U2. Yep, I like to keep on the cutting edge (hehe) of church culture. For those of you who don’t know, there’s this thing…you’ve probably never heard of it…called dotted 8th’s…
Anyway, the year was 2007, and this is how wonderfully the worship experience I was leading touched this guy:
“As I was reading through the bulletin the band began to play and I have to tell you that the music was so loud I actually was startled in my chair. The music was fast and the genre was Rock. In fact, the worship leader said something to the effect, “we are a rockin’ church!” The graphics on the projection screen definitely fit well with the music. It was a combination of fast moving “screen saver” type images. When I sang I noticed that I couldn’t even hear my own voice. “
That’s right. If it doesn’t sound good, turn it up. This was more than likely at the time when I was running stereo into two fully cranked 30 watt amps, with a third 40-watter cranked for the pads, all in a small school rec room with no sound treatment. Oh yes. And here’s the link, if you’d like: Karl gets secret-shopped and failed. I remember the week after it happened, as staff meeting. And everyone was so kind and was like, ‘Oh, he just isn’t used to your style’, or, ‘What a jerk.’ And I was like, ‘Ya…nope.’ It really was that bad that day. haha
As a side note, I’m not exactly sure how I feel about church secret shopping. I get that it can give a good perspective on things like, are your visitors getting greeted, did the music tear people’s ears out, etc. But some of the things these guys grade on, or so I read, are the painted parking lot lines, the dust in the corner of the bathroom, the temperature…and I guess I’m just not so sure how I feel about that. On the one hand it’s good because we do want to show love to people and be kind with how we set up our church, but at the same time, I can totally see this stuff breeding a culture where the church starts majoring on the minors. And we’ve all been to the churches with bathrooms we wouldn’t mind living in, but pastors whose messages hint that perhaps they spent their whole week obsessing over staffing the bathroom cleaning crews, rather than studying. But then again…haha I guess it’s just one of those things where I think, ‘Cool idea! Wait…’
But in the end, I failed, and totally deserved it. Also, my score is the lowest of any church he reviewed. Yay for me. It’s good to get that perspective every once in a while. Humility is a good thing, and those of you who may be like me and struggle with it…it’s good to seek it out like this…sometimes. And even though this particular instance was years ago, I also secret-shopped myself (what?) the other day by listening back to a recording of last week’s service at my new and current church, and I didn’t score much better.