Evaluating the Visitor Retention Process at Antioch Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas
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ABSTRACT EVALUATING THE VISITOR RETENTION PROCESS AT ANTIOCH BAPTIST CHURCH IN CONWAY, ARKANSAS Jason Mark Aultman, D.Ed.Min. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2012 This project was designed to evaluate the visitor retention process at Antioch Baptist Church, with specific attention given to the matter of first impressions. Most churches feel that they do an effective job of extending hospitality to guests. But does this opinion coincide with the opinions of guests? In many cases the honest answer to such a question would be "no." Through the utilization of mystery worshippers the matter of hospitality at Antioch was evaluated from the perspective of those outside the church. Guests were enlisted to attend one of the weekend services at Antioch and then provide feedback relative to that experience. A few of the areas for which feedback was sought included first impressions upon arrival, interaction with church members prior to and following the service, and follow-up contacts received. Comparisons were drawn from two dimensions in order to evaluate and measure the condition and progress of hospitality efforts at the church. First, a system was developed by which one group of mystery worshippers assigned a grade to the church on the basis of the hospitality extended to guests. Additionally, the church attendees provided a grade they felt the church merited as it related to hospitality efforts. These two scores (the "insider" and "outsider" perspectives) were compared to evaluate the perception of church members in relation to the perception expressed by the group of mystery worshippers. This comparison was accompanied by a time of teaching within the church on the topic of hospitality. Following the period of teaching and training, a second group of mystery worshippers was enlisted to attend a service and provide an evaluation using the same method as utilized by the initial group. Scores provided by the second group of mystery worshippers were compared to those of the first group to assess whether progress had been achieved in enhancing first impressions and initial hospitality efforts within the church. The foundation upon which the project rests is the two-fold biblical mandate to love God and love others. Any church desiring to practice these two disciplines must recognize that neither can be fully accomplished at the exclusion of the other. Genuine love for God produces the overflow from which genuine love for others is fulfilled. While the scope of this project is specific to the context of Antioch Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas, the process utilized may prove beneficial to any church wishing to evaluate and enhance hospitality efforts. In so doing it is the ambition of the writer that the church will be strengthened and the fame of the Lord Jesus Christ will shine ever brighter.