WHO ARE THE REAL MYSTERY WORSHIPPERS?
November 5, 2008
The Wall Street Journal recently addressed the subject of mystery worshippers in an October 10th, 2008 article, as did the Tennessean in a subsequent piece, comparing these undercover church troubleshooters to the mystery shoppers and mystery diners often hired by department stores and restaurants to objectively critique their establishments for the purpose of ascertaining and correcting problems new visitors might encounter that could discourage their return.
It’s easy to see how useful mystery worshippers might be in today’s church environment since so many of them are run like businesses now – being incorporated and catering more to consumers than to God. But they really need to consider a different name for these folks because, if mystery worshippers are indeed there acting as covert consultants, they’re not really there to worship, are they? Their purpose, as I understand it, is to focus on the creation and not the Creator, who must have our undivided attention for it to be true worship.
So, let’s call them what they really are: quality control agents. It’s not quite as endearing and esoteric as the term “mystery worshipper,” but it is more accurate.
No, I would consider a mystery worshipper to be someone in attendance who is a complete stranger to the congregation and clergy, yet is known by God – a person who cares not where he or she has to park their car outside – or whether the coffee is fresh or stale inside – or even if the carpet in the sanctuary is clean and odor-free – but is only there to hear and respond to God’s Word being preached faithfully from the pulpit.
These are people who cannot be hired or paid for attending. They have little interest in the things of this world – seeking not an earthly kingdom with its momentary pleasures and conveniences – but instead, a Kingdom not of this world, where things of value are everlasting and worth sacrificing oneself for, whatever the cost.
Worship to them is not a business opportunity, a career choice or a paycheck. It is a loving act of obedience to the One who has called them to repentance and faith.
They’re not looking for easy-to-read signs that point the way to a clean and close restroom where they can handily relieve themselves or check their hair and makeup in a smudge-free mirror. They’re only interested in the way to the cross, that they might see themselves as God sees them and be relieved of the un-confessed sin in their lives for a closer walk with Him.
They worship in spirit and in truth celebrating life eternal with a holiness, wisdom, peace and joy that only Jesus Christ can give. That is their reward – that is their agenda – and that is why they have come.
They may be a mystery to the membership and ministers on Sunday morning, but are dearly loved by the Savior that sent them.
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” – John 4:23