Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Review: Becoming A Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer

Most churches would say they are very welcoming while they really are not. Some of them would even wonder why people will not come back to their worship service after greeting visitors who may seem interested in attending their church. Are churches welcoming or are they turning people away? Thom Rainer explores this and more in his latest book, Becoming a Welcoming Church.

Rainer begins by pleading with his readers to really take a hard look at their church and see what they can do to become a welcoming, gospel-centered church. If not then they would put the book down. I would assume that most would put the book down because most churches do believe they are welcoming. Rainer identifies certain things that a church does that would make a person not come back. Some were very obvious such as unfriendly church members and unsafe children's areas. I can imagine those things would turn people off from a church. One that is surprising to many is the meet and greet time during the worship service. I have not be honest, I am not surprised because this where people are forced (I am using the word loosely) to talk with the people around them like they will gain approval from heaven if they do.

Throughout the rest of the book, Rainer talks about ways a church can become a welcoming church, which I have to say most of these things are very unrealistic for some churches. Most churches cannot afford the technology for a website nor the service for one yet Rainer says this is one of the key things that will not want to make people come and visit a church. Granted, there needs to be information on the church when a visitor comes. The internet does provide great information, but a church needs to have that on hand.

One area I did agree with is clean and safe churches. Our church does not have a janitor. Our people volunteer and they (myself included) work hard to make the church presentable for everyone that comes through our doors. One area that always need attention is where all the children go. They need to be cleaned as best as they can possibly. I don't think Rainer is looking for perfection but there are times I felt he was.

After I read this book, my first thought was not every church can do what Rainer is suggesting like the website which I mentioned earlier. A church can do what it can to be a welcoming church, but I don't think following a list of steps is the right direction. Yes, a church building needs to be presentable, but only because we are being good stewards of that building that God has given us. Yes, keep the bathrooms clean, but do not fret if you miss a spot in the fellowship hall. I have loved Rainer's books in the past, but this one is not one I would go back to.

Thanks B&H Publishing Group for letting me review this book.

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