Becoming a Welcoming Church – A Book Review


Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

by Jill Printzenhoff

For this month’s B&H Book Review I chose Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom S. Rainer.

Typically I do not begin a post with the words ~ this is a must read for church leaders. However, this small volume contains insightful content that I believe is crucial for leaders in the church to read and implement.

This book covers topics from:

  • Entrance to exit
  • Parking lot to sanctuary
  • Signage to cleanliness
  • Websites to actual visits
  • And all points in between.

To add credence to the issues discussed, Thom surveyed hundreds of individuals, conducted numerous one-on-one follow-up interviews, and included the results of his findings in this book.

The data Thom collected is eye opening.

Some notable issues visitors shared with Thom:

  • Confusion about where to find the building entrance or front door
  • Unclear about parking; lack of direction to handicap and guest spots
  • Outdated or omitted signage
  • Lack of cleanliness, especially in the children’s department
  • Websites not including clear information, or displaying wrong service times
  • Darkened sanctuaries causing difficulties in reading Bible text
  • Lack of hospitality to outsiders

At the end of each chapter Thom includes a Points to Ponder section. This area poses questions to help the reader evaluate their church in light of the chapter material.

As well, throughout the book Thom highlights corrective measures for leaders to implement to help resolve the issues discussed. Some noteworthy suggestions include:

  • Utilize the checklists included in the book
  • Visit other churches
  • Schedule regular checkups
  • Conduct secret guest surveys
  • Ensure that faculty complete the church faculty audit included in the book
  • Don’t ignore the fact that change is necessary
  • Collect the data from the surveys, audits, and checklists; discuss corrective measures; go to work fixing the identified problem areas
  • Make it a priority to complete the necessary changes

Now, please hear me say this: Not all churches struggle with the issues Thom discusses. In fact, many churches rank high on the welcoming scale because they implement and practice the suggested methods, or ones similar.

However, for churches struggling with these issues, well, perhaps the leaders do not know there is an issue. Or, perhaps they do know there is an issue but do not know what to do to fix the problems. Chapter 6 titled The Path to Becoming a Welcoming Church will help leaders get started on the evaluation, identification, and resolution road.

Folks, souls are at stake, which is the main reason I believe this book is a must read for every church leader. Plus, I don’t think any church wants to be known as a church where “The guests felt like they crashed a private party” (back cover quote).

These two reasons alone are worthy of identifying and addressing the issues Thom discusses in Becoming a Welcoming Church.

So, grab a copy of Thom S. Rainer’s book Becoming a Welcoming Church. Read it from cover to cover. Then roll up your leadership sleeves, and dive in to identify and make the changes necessary to ensure your church is a welcoming church.

Conversation Questions:

  • Have you read Thom’s book? If so, what would you add to this review?
  • Has your church implemented any of the suggestions from this book? If so, what impact have those changes had?

** I received a copy of this book from B&H publication in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.


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