I get asked often how I keep staying busy doing secret shopper visits with churches around the country. The truth is there is no better investment you can make if you’re serious about reaching people in your community and getting them to return for a second time. Churches that are exploding with growth don’t happen by accident and they take my service seriously.

Last week I received the latest issue of Outreach magazine. Their Sept/Oct issue is on the “Largest” and “Fastest-Growing” churches in America. By the way, I’ll be writing about how to reach and keep guests in the next two issues of Outreach magazine.

In this month’s issue, however, Outreach listed the “Largest Churches in America” – many of which I’ve consulted with. In their listing of the “Top 9 Greatest Numerical Gain Churches”, 2 of the 9 had brought me in to do a secret shopper visit. Do I think my secret shopper visit is the reason they had the most numerical gain out of all churches in the nation? Absolutely not. What I do think is that they grew the most because they are hungry and not satisfied with the people they’ve already reached. I’ve seen this personally when I met with and debriefed the leaders of these churches and heard their commitment to be ruthless about reaching lost people and constantly improving what they do. Simply put, they said they brought me in because they want to get better at reaching people. I respect that.

I should also point out the #1 “Fastest-Growing Church in America” – 12Stone in Lawrenceville, GA also brought me in to do a secret shopper. Do you think it’s an accident that they’re the fastest-growing church in the country and they would invest in a secret shopper to improve their weekend experience? I don’t. Previous “Fastest-Growing Church in America”, Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL has also used a secret shopper several times.

So to get to the “Why behind hiring a secret shopper” like myself: it’s because you want to reach your community. You want to improve your first impressions. You want to remove barriers that would keep people from returning and you want a professional observation and report from someone who wants to see you succeed as it relates to the Kingdom.

I want to be clear: I’m not the missing link. What I’m saying is I’ve been around enough large and fast-growing churches to know that they work extremely hard to be good at what they do – it’s no accident. They bring in secret shoppers and consultants because they are passionate about reaching people and excellence in all areas. There’s a correlation between these churches exploding with growth and the measures they take to evaluate why and what they do as an organization. Believe me, I do know there’s a “God-factor” and God blesses churches, but I believe there’s a partnership between us as leaders and the work of the Holy Spirit. Chew on that for a while.

Let me be blunt: If you take seriously the story of leaving the 99 to go after the 1 and you want to see your community reached for Christ, you can’t afford not to hire a secret shopper – whether it be me or someone else. Some things you can’t put a price tag on. One church of 15,000 that brought me in recently said it was the “best money we’ve spent all year.”

Understand my heart, though: I tier my prices down to help out smaller churches. Only the biggest of the big churches pay my full price. If you’re a smaller church, you get the same service for a cheaper price. I’m not in this for the money. I’m trying to serve churches and make a difference in the Big “C” Church. You can get more details, prices and read endorsements HERE.

Contact me if you’re serious about reaching your community. You have to put your money where your mouth is – that’s as honest as I can get. God bless you as you lead. Contact me and let’s work together to go after the 1 lost sheep.

Greg Atkinson

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