The Mystery Worshipper is a project that’s been running on Ship of Fools since 1998. Volunteers from around the world visit church services for us, and via our 20-point questionnaire answer those questions which go to the heart of church life: How long was the sermon? How hard the pew? How cold was the coffee? How warm the welcome?
The reports we receive are well observed, amusing, serious, affectionate, critical, and capture the spiritual and challenging moments of church services, as well as the peripheral details.
To date we have published over 2,000 reports, covering all the mainstream Christian denominations, and they provide a series of ecumenical snapshots of Christian worship as it is practised today.
The original concept was by Steve Goddard, and I’ve been producing the project since it was launched. The Mystery Worshipper has been frequently featured in the media and has an international profile. As an example, here’s a BBC report.