How to “shop” for a church

Shopping image

Given that we live in a return on investment culture, “church shopping” is here stay. With busy, sports-driven, technology immersed lives, people want value for everything they do.

Church leader, if you want to grow, reach the next generation, break the 200 hundred attendance barrier, then rethink what you are doing for the millions of church shoppers in America.

People tell me that before they even visit our congregation, they visit us online to see if this is a place they would want to attend.

So if you are in the hunt for a new church, let me share a few things to consider.

If you are a church hoping to attract more shoppers, then pay attention to the proven suggestions in this post.

First, watch this video:

7 questions church shoppers ask

  • Is the church pre, post, or amillennial? After all, if you are going to attend a church, you need to know if the church knows when Jesus is returning.
  • Do they play hymns, rock, my music, your music, old music, new music, praise and worship? Do they use organ or guitar? What’s the date on the music–1517 or 2017? Since music is the heart of worship, God forbid if they don’t have my music. 
  • Is this a builder, boomer, gen x, millennial, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, church? Do people with disabilities attend? Make sure the people look and think like you. What a waste to attend a diverse congregation filled with people from all over the world. Too messy. Church shoppers cannot handle messy.
  • What are the service times? Shoppers cannot come if the service is too early. They have much to do on Saturday night and early Sunday morning. So make the time for worship comfortable.
  • Is the preacher funny? Shoppers are looking for preachers who go light on the Bible stuff, are funny like Jimmy Kimmel, and tell lovely, motivating stories to keep them awake.
  • How’s the coffee? Shoppers prefer either Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. It’s important that shoppers receive the same consistent quality they are used to. Studies show that growing churches serve high-quality beverages.
  • Are the snacks gluten-free? Shoppers want churches that are sensitive to people’s dietary needs.

Things to do when you go

  • Make sure you sit at the back of the church. Let them come to you!
  • Do not speak to anyone. This is very important. If no one talks to you, it means the church is cold and unfriendly. It is never cool to say good morning first.
  • Did the service end on time? If these folks can’t keep to their advertised times, don’t trust them for anything else.
  • See if anyone raised their hand. Hand raising is a sure sign of fanaticism.
  • Check for goose bumps on your arm. The more tingles you feel, the greater the chance that this church is not a dull place.
  • Check out the pews. Theater seats or old-fashioned wooden pews? Shoppers want to be comfortable with ample leg room. No theater seats? These folks aren’t serious about change.
  • If they collect offerings during the service, watch out. They might just be in it for the money.
  • Check on their follow up. A few days after worship, did they send you a letter, with a gift card to Starbucks? Studies show that churches that give something away to their shoppers see a higher return rate.

So there you have it. And remember, the shopper is always right. It’s all about the shopper’s needs. If these churches can’t see that, move on to the next church. Studies show that if churches would only give the people what they want, these churches would explode with people coming back for more.   Happy shopping!


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