You’ve no doubt seen the Mystery Shopper offers where these companies pay you to pose as shoppers and report back your findings, and perhaps even thought about doing it yourself.
There is a genuine need for Mystery Shoppers who shop at retail stores and report on their findings. Well, now you can become a Spiritual Shopper, and get paid to visit and report on different churches.
What will I learn?
Welcome or Not?
If you have been to several churches, you might understand the need for this type of research. Some churches are welcoming, even to strangers, and others seem to be formed into various cliques who make little effort to put the visitor at ease.
The goal of the Spiritual Shopper is to help identify and assist churches in their outreach to the community, specifically noting how and where visitors may feel less than welcome.
After the reports you have heard about some of the mystery shopping scams going around, you might be concerned that this too could be a scam, particularly as it seems so unusual.
The particular group we looked at is called Faith Perceptions, and it has been in business since 2007 as the church consulting division of marketing and management advisors, Hendrickson Business Advisors LLC.
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They are a member of the Better Business Bureau, and do not charge any fee to join and start earning.
The Wages of No Sin
Unlike Mystery Shopping, you can only do this on a Sunday when you attend a regular service at a designated church.
It’s not quite as easy as mystery shopping, as you have to answer several questions about your experience, but it pays $45 per visit.
Sometimes, for churches which are further away or where they can’t find another Spiritual Shopper, Faith Perceptions will even offer a little extra for a visit, but this must be agreed in advance.
How It Works
Your visit and feedback are important to church leaders.
They want to know how strangers to their church are treated, and what impression they leave with. After all, they may only get one chance to gain a new member to the congregation.
Just because Jesus asked us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, otherwise known as the Golden Rule, does not mean that the current worshipers treat strangers warmly; and there may be other issues, such as too little direction during the service, or even difficulty finding the restrooms.
Importantly, you’re charged with providing feedback which deals with these material matters.
If you have a faith, and some of the church’s teachings are at odds with that faith, then you should not allow that to affect the feedback that you give.
After you attend the church, you have until the following Tuesday morning to provide your feedback on a survey form, and send this and a copy of the church bulletin to the company.
The survey is comprehensive, and includes 16 questions which require written responses, and not simply yes or no answers.
For example, one of the questions requires you to stop at a business nearby and ask for directions to the church, to see how well known it is in the community. Other questions cover how welcoming the church seems, and your overall impressions.
To sign up, visit Faithperceptions.com/visitorsignup
As mentioned, there is no fee involved in becoming a part of the program.
However, you have to fill out a brief questionnaire on basic information, as well as your religious affiliation.
After you submit this, you can expect to hear back in a day or two whether you have been accepted.
The acceptance email tells you what to do next, and this is to look at a list of churches in your area that require visits.
You apply online, and get a response telling you if the church is available for the date you want. If another Spiritual Shopper has already booked it, then you could be turned down, but you may be offered different dates.
Faith Perceptions processes payments at the middle and the end of the month, so you may have to wait a week or two before getting your money.
It is paid in the form of a check mailed to the address they have on file.
If payday falls on a Saturday, then the check is processed the day before, on Friday; if Sunday is the payday, the check is sent out on the following Monday, provided it is not a federal holiday.
Are You Eligible?
At present, Faith Perceptions only operates in a handful of states, specifically:
You don’t have to live in those states to be on the program, but the churches requiring visits are all located in them.
You don’t need to have any particular faith in order to participate. In fact, they don’t want anyone who would bring a bias to their review because of their faith.
It might help if you have some belief, but bear in mind that the survey is intended to help churches grow, so if you attend only irregularly you represent the target audience. And they want a cross-section of society, so the young, the elderly, or the family person with children are all equally needed, though you won’t be paid any extra for bringing children or even friends.
Is It for You?
This is not a program that will do more than bring in some pocket money, limited as it is to once a week.
And if you already have a regular church, it’s unlikely that you will want to spend much time away from it doing these surveys.
But if you’re still looking for the church that is the right fit for you, Faith Perceptions is a way of getting paid while doing your personal research.
And if you’ve never committed to organized religion, you might even experience a spiritual awakening as the program leads you to explore the alternatives.