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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Click here to email Mitchell.