Edie, I have to be honest. I don’t understand what your point is here. I’ve been connected to a few churches, as a Girl Scout and as a relative of multiple loyal church members. I’ve seen many people who “stopped in” because the church was in their area, so the comment about visitors not coming from off the street isn’t always accurate. Even in the original NPR story, the woman mentioned that there were white church members who sat down in the pews. So I’m not necessarily buying into the theory that white visitors are almost always invited because that heavily depends on how segregated the neighborhood is.
But none of this (whether white people show up as visitors or which demographics tend to be at which churches) matters to me. My reason for writing this post was solely to do with people — anybody — coming to a church one time as if it’s a new restaurant and then reviewing it like you can fully consume the “way” a church is by one visit.
This isn’t the kind of organization where you can fully understand its ins and outs by visiting one time and then leaving before the sermon starts. Or, using a TV show as your point of reference. It makes as much sense as going to a restaurant to check out the food, looking at it when it arrives, and then getting up to leave without eating it. You “saw” the cooks and you “saw” the food, but you didn’t really participate nor could you really be knowledgeable enough about it to write an informed review of what it was like from one tourist visit. Even during my days as a mystery shopper, I had this long checklist of things I had to look at before I could write a review for anything. Churches are not meant to be quick tourist attractions nor are the members inside a museum exhibit.