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 Roth, 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.
Suzi Reinwald, Project Coordinator
Suzi Reinwald was born and raised on a farm in Southeast Missouri where community and family are deeply valued. After working for over a decade in sales, Suzi was inspired to do something more to directly impact local communities, and joined the Faith Perceptions team. Because of Suzi’s natural ability to create strong and sustainable relationships with clients she was a natural fit, and is highly valued.
She is a Chamber of Commerce Leadership Graduate, serves on the board for Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Southeast Missouri, and helps numerous organizations with events and fundraising. Outside of work, Suzi can be found cooking, crafting, supporting local arts, traveling, and best of all spending time with family and friends.
Click here to email Suzi.