ABOUT US

Faith Perceptions began in 2008 when research and marketing experts at Hendrickson Business Advisors wanted to use business solutions to solve church problems.  We adapted our mystery shopping program for businesses to the church environment using unchurched mystery guests (sometimes called mystery worshippers), multiple visits and a consistent scorecard.  Faith Perceptions is now the fastest growing firm of its type in the United States with over 4,300 worship services evaluated across four denominations in eight states.  We have over 13,000 mystery guests that are active in our database.

In addition to the Mystery Guest Program, Faith Perceptions also helps churches grow by offering on-site consultations, focus groups and surveys, as well as training.  Pastors are consistently reporting outstanding results using these services as well. 

Key players on our team: 

Jennifer S. Hendrickson, CEO

Raised in Springfield, Missouri, Jennifer holds a bachelor's degree in Finance from Missouri State University.  She also holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Southeast Missouri State University and two graduate degrees in banking through Vanderbilt and Louisiana State.

Jennifer began her work in banking during her first year of college.  She spent fifteen continuous years in the financial services industry, half of them on the corporate side of the business.  In 2003, Jennifer relocated from St. Louis to her husband's hometown of Cape Girardeau.  Four years later, she left her banking career as Chief Financial Officer and Marketing Director for a locally owned bank to start the consulting firm.  Jennifer and her husband, Rhett, started Hendrickson Business Advisors, LLC in 2007, fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning their own business.  The firm provides management and marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses across all industries. They also own a business brokerage firm:  Murphy Business of Cape Girardeau.

Giving back to the community has always been a priority for Jennifer. She is past president for the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau Area, former chair of Chamber Young Professionals, former board member for the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, former board member of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, a board member for Progressive Farm Credit, and an active member in several other service groups. She has been recognized with Business Today's 40 Under 40 and the Support Services Award from the Southeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross.  She was also a nominee for Zonta's Women of Achievement Award in 2009. Hendrickson Business Advisors was recognized as the 2012 Small Business of the Year by the Cape Girardeau Chamber. Jennifer is very active in her church and with the youth ministry.

Together, Rhett and Jennifer have one daughter and reside in Cape Girardeau.  In their spare time, they enjoy traveling, scuba diving, reading and community service.

Click here to email Jennifer.

 

Melanie Smollen, President

Melanie Smollen is a native of Traverse City, Michigan. She now lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with her husband, Paul, who is in full-time ministry. They are parents to four amazing (and very headstrong) kids, two dogs, and a cat.

In 2008 Melanie had an idea to change the way forward-thinking churches approach hospitality and growth.  She recognized that churches were either stagnating or in decline across the country, and she set out to use market research to benefit the kingdom. Faith Perceptions was born, and the Mystery Guest Program was developed, to help churches improve the Sunday morning experience for first-time guests.

That idea (Mystery Guest Program) has become the largest firm of its type in the United States.  Faith Perceptions sends multiple “unchurched” people into worship services to evaluate and provide unbiased feedback on their experience. Melanie and her team use those insights to help churches understand how people in their mission field perceive their church as well as how to engage and connect better with future guests. The Mystery Guest Report is being used by church leaders, coaches, consultants and revitalization experts.

Melanie has worked extensively with many different denominations including United Methodist, Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Lutheran, and non-denominational churches. She is often asked to speak and share best practices at conferences and other venues.  Excerpts of Mystery Guest Reports can be found in every issue of Outreach Magazine.

When she isn't helping churches grow, she enjoys being a wife and mama.  She appreciates the simple things in life:  quiet time with a cup of coffee and The Word, eating good food (southern style), and cooking for friends and family. Melanie and her husband volunteer and support a local faith-based Christian school, Prodigy Leadership Academy, and Seeds of Dignity, an outreach effort in Mindanao, Philippines.

Click here to email Melanie.


John McGowan, Principal Consultant

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin John received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  He has lived in Sydney, Australia, Denver, CO, and Tucson, AZ prior to relocating to Cape Girardeau in 2004. John has also studied at the University of Denver's Strum College of Law and received his Masters of Nonprofit Management from Regis University.

Following 15 years in executive level positions in the nonprofit sector, including working for Goodwill and United Way, John brings his managerial and leadership experience to the firm. As a grant writer, he successfully obtained funding on Federal, State, and local grant applications for nonprofit organizations and public university’s alike.
 
In addition to volunteering as a Big in the Big Brother’s Big Sisters program, John has been appointed to Cape Girardeau Public Library Board of Trustees and the Cape Girardeau County Board for the Developmentally Disabled. He also volunteers for the local NPR station on the KRCU Advisory Board.
 
John and his wife Kelley live in Cape Girardeau with their two dogs and usually a foster dog. They enjoy volunteering, reading, golfing, bicycling, dining out, and travel.

Click here to email John.

 

Kelli Foster, Project Manager

Kelli Foster was born in Winona, Minnesota and moved to Missouri when her father joined the military. She grew up in Devils Elbow, Missouri and attended Waynesville High School. Kelli moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri to attend college at Southeast Missouri State University in 2007 where she graduated with a Marketing Management degree in 2011 with a minor in Spanish. She currently lives in Cape Girardeau. In college, she was very involved with Catholic Campus Ministry, where she served as the Newman Council President in 2009-2010. She also was involved with the Spanish Club and Delta Epsilon Chi (a marketing club).

Kelli joined the team as Project Manager in July 2013. She is a passionate, young professional excited to help churches grow and prosper. As Project Manager she will be involved in the day to day operations of the company as well as client and mystery guest relations.

In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and friends. She also loves to bake, read good books, and is always trying to stay active. She is very involved at The Cenacle, a Catholic young adult ministry in Cape Girardeau.

Click here to email Kelli.

 

Kate Stephens, Project Coordinator

Kate Stephens was locally born and raised in the Cape Girardeau area. She is a recent graduate of Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in Human Resources Management.

With the rapid growth of Faith Perceptions, Kate joined the team in February 2010 to help manage the mystery guest portion of the endeavor. While others on the team reach out to new clients and works with church planters, Kate responds to mystery guests' questions and organizes the church visits.

Kate enjoys staying involved with her favorite organization, FBLA-PBL. She currently serves as the officer coach for Missouri's state officers and is the secretary for the state's board of directors. In her free time, she likes to spend time with family and friends, read, and bake. 

Click here to email Kate.

 

 Mitchell Kester, Project Coordinator

Mitchell Kester has lived in and around Cape Girardeau his entire life.  He attended Southeast Missouri State University before joining the Missouri Army National Guard where he spent nearly ten years. In his final four years with the 1140th Engineer Battalion he worked as a Public Affairs Representative and a Human Resources Assistant.  He now works with the Faith Perceptions support team.

Mitchell provided security at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah and served for a year at Fort Leonard Wood.  He also assisted in disaster relief operations following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav.

In 2007, Mitchell married Mamie, an electrical engineer for a global manufacturing company.  Mitchell, Mamie, and their two daughters are active members of their church and enjoy traveling to visit extended family. 

Click here to email Mitchell.

 

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