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Becoming a Welcoming Church

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  340 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Most church members don't see their churches clearly.

In almost all of Thom S. Rainer's consultations, church members perceive their church to be friendly. But as he surveyed guests, he found that the guests typically saw church members as unfriendly. The perception chasm existed because the members were indeed friendly . . . to one another. 

The guests f/>The
Hardcover, 101 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by B Books
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Daniel Ligon
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thom Rainer's books are always helpful and practical, and this one is no exception. This book is a thought-provoking read for any pastor or church member who wonders if his church is a welcoming place for visitors. It is full of examples of things that we overlook in our facilities or services that can give guests a reason not to return. I do think we must be cautious about our philosophy behind being welcoming. We should strive for excellence in all that we do because God is worthy. Also, we sh ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Many churches are unwelcoming. It’s a myth to perceive that all churches are friendly when indeed they are not. By unwelcoming, I don’t mean that a church keeps their doors shut, or that people are mean and unfriendly. The members of a church may be friendly—but to each other, not to outsiders.

There is little to argue here. We can all recall moments when we’ve felt uncomfortable, uninvited, or even outcast from a certain group or place, a community or congregation. We can blame it on
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book felt very short. On the one hand, it feels like....You couldn't think of more to say on the topic? Because I can. But on the other hand, I am grateful that it isn't padded with fluff. I've read some books last year that felt like they were originally SEO optimized blog posts, and in order to expand them into books, the author just came up with twenty slightly different ways to say the same thing! This book, scant as it was, thankfully did not do that. The author said what he wanted to s ...more
Jimmy Reagan
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thom Rainer has become the guru of all things local church. This book, another of the small, attractive, hardback volumes published by B&H Publishing that he has turned out over the last few years, teaches us how to become a welcoming church. It’s not so much a book of suggestions as one of necessity because all of its recommendations are drawn from real data from church visitors.

Rainer explains that visitors often don’t rate our friendliness, facilities, or services in the way w
CJ Bowen
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quick and worthwhile read. Rainer gives a good overview of some basic but easy to overlook aspects of church life, and wisdom on how to take simple steps to maintain an outward focus. What matters to a minister or a member might be very different than what matters to a guest, at least initially, and Rainer makes the case that a better awareness of this reality often makes the difference in whether or not a visitor returns.
Joshua Sparkman
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid, practical tips for making sure your church is welcoming to visitors. Rainer does a nice job of connecting the practical nature of his suggestions to biblical principles of hospitality and the Great Commission.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That is something that I have personally reminded my first impressions team at the church that I pastor. That statement and more like it were reinforced to me in Thom S. Rainer’s book Becoming a Welcoming Church, published by B&H.
In this book Rainer challenges us to think through whether or not we are as welcoming as we think that we truly are. When we take an honest look into the mirror, we find that when we think that we are f
Bob Priest
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Early in my ministry I was used to hearing churches say we are a friendly church. And this was partly true. They were very friendly to each other. But when I asked them what if we ask people who are not part of our church if we are friendly what would they say, especially the kids we shooed away from the porch for loitering. Were we that friendly. In this book Rainer challenges us to look at church hospitality with new eyes and as a gospel issue.

This small book is big on solid information and a
J.H. Kester
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
At just 100 pages, Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom S. Rainer is a lean, practical primer on Sunday-morning hospitality basics.

Becoming a Welcoming Church centers on two directives for the reader:

1. Even if you feel welcome at your church, do not assume that everyone else does.
2. Invest time and energy in learning what your church's guests think of your church.

"By the way, when we interviewed members of this church, they consistently proclaimed a simi
Virginia Garrett
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you regularly attend church, and it's habitually the same church, chances are you find your fellowship to be well, friendly and welcoming. 

It's probably a church you felt instantly at home in when you walked in the door for the first time, ergo, you are a welcoming and friendly church. 

If you're in leadership at your church, have you noticed that many who visit your church never return? Are you convinced the problem is elsewhere? Maybe you blame it on the GenZers. Or t
Jim B
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, self-help
This is a quick read as an audio book. I even speeded up to 1.5x and could follow it well.

I'm not a fan of self-help books; my mind always goes to the exceptions to the rules they lay out. This book tended to be focused on the middle class suburban church goers. I've been at a suburban church. I attend an urban church in a poor neighborhood. We have a full range of member types from white college educated to blue color to strong church going blacks to families (of both races) in pove
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thom Rainer wants your church to be welcoming, not just as a growth strategy (although it is that), but more importantly, because we are commanded to be hospitable. At the beginning of the book, Rainer reminds us that one of the attributes of an elder is to be hospitable (Titus 1:7-8). And near the end of the book, Rainer tells us that the heart of hospitality is found in Philippians 2:3, where we are told: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others more impo ...more
Christopher Hughes
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
From my blog at
Thom Rainer, the former president of Lifeway and head of Rainer on Leadership, has written quite of few of these little church-help books. They are little, and I would say that they tend to be helpful. While I have read a few of the others (Who Moved my Pulpit, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, and I am a Church Member), Becoming a Welcoming Church is the first book review I have done of his work.

That being said. . . Thom Rainer has become the church
Anthony Stephens
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have really appreciated the books that Thom Rainer has put out.  It is easy to see that he has a big heart for the local church and helping it out as much as possible.  Becoming a Welcoming Church is similar in many ways to recent books that Rainer has written in the recent past.  It is not an overbearing read.  This small book is only 6 chapters written over 100 pages.  I was able to read the entire book in two sittings.  The content is straight to the point and does not use pointless filler ...more
Hannah McCarthy
Jan 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book provides many suggestions, or rather imperatives, for being a welcoming church. Much of the book is anecdotal, drawing large conclusions from personal experiences. While the book contains some very important ideas it does not give sufficient time to the question, “Why should we be compelled to be a welcoming church?” It does not bring the reader to the foot of the cross. It does not spend a sufficient amount of time explaining that our desire to be welcoming should stem from our desire ...more
Chris Wilson
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another, why I'm surprised at this point, stellar offering from Dr. Rainer. It's imperative that church staff and leadership never lose sight of how the church and worship service are viewed through the eyes of the guests. I really enjoyed that Rainer emphasizes that we can't be dismissive of these things (signage, lighting, parking, website, etc.) because they aren't primary to the gospel. Rather they are to be viewed and treated as those things which provide avenues for people to hear the gosp ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
Every single Christian Church should have one of these books in their office and review the contents regularly.

I loved this book. It was simple, very short, and clearly the fruit of years of experience. Thom Rainer makes a very compelling argument against all the ways that we unintentionally tell our visitors "You're not welcome here" and gives a collection of practical steps to become a welcoming and hospitable Church; key focus is on signage, greeters, cleanliness, parking lot, and
Cynthia Dickerson
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thom S. Rainer writes about how many churches and their members miss the mark on greeting visitors that come to their church. Many believe that a smile and a few catch phrases is what is needed to welcome visitors. Visitors start looking at how the church welcome from the parking lot, lawn appearance, to the people who speak to them, to the overall look of flooring and pews in the sanctuary. It never occurred to me that God's House should be as clean as your own home when guest are welcome into ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
There’s nothing revolutionary in this book. In fact, most of what Rainer has written is available with largely the same content on his blog or in other online resources. That said, what Rainer does offer is a short, simple, easy-to-read book(let) on how to assess your church’s friendliness and grow towards change. While the book has some flaws, I do think it offers some practical nuggets of truth that many church members would do well to hear. Most churches think they’re friendly. And many times ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Is your church truly a welcoming church? The answer to that question has eternal implications.”

This book is convicting. It is something that every ministry leader and pastor should make the time to read. Then, having read it, have a series of ministry and staff meetings to address next steps. There are certainly going to be things from this book you will need to take action on!

Thom Rainer masterfully, and gently but firmly, points out that our churches are usually not as
Bobby Oliveri
Apr 25, 2018 rated it liked it
As a pastor, I’m obviously concerned with the impression our church makes on first time guests and visitors. This book helps illuminate issues most central to retaining visitors. To that extent, it succeeds, and is an insightful little book for assessment value.

Outside of this, however, it does little in the way of reconciling it’s suggestions with the larger role of worship and the gathered body of Christ. Too pragmatic, superficial, and unbalanced. But if you are willing to read it as a quick
Karl Dumas
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thom Rainer has done it again. This book is short, concise, to the point, and makes you stop and think about how your church comes across to people outside your church. He makes the point that most churches see themselves as a friendly church, with the problem being that they're very friendly to their friends, but all too often there's no room in the friendship circle for a newcomer.
In this book, which can be read in about an hour, Rainer points out some things that we of the local church shoul
Raphael Mnkandhla
Crucial read for churches

All churches desire to be known as welcoming, but lack well thought out strategies to get them there. Rainer in this little book presents both a compelling argument on why being a welcoming church is a gospel issue and gives implementable insights on how churches can begin cultivating this core competency. This book is not only for the pastas but for anyone who is interested in spearheading a welcoming and inviting culture.
The Barocio's
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful & Eye Opening

This book is a great resource for church leaders. I found it to be challenging, insightful and thought provoking. It opened my eyes to new perspectives, realities, as well as, began the personal and professional dialogue of how I can lead my ministry in a way where we become a far more welcoming church.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-reading
Nothing terribly objectionable other than the content doesn’t really justify a book. Prescriptions are to have a user friendly (and accurate) website, good signage, take safety and cleanliness seriously, and have a large greeter ministry. This is better served as a long form article, a series of blog posts, or maybe as an appendix in a more holistic book like 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.
Kevin Charman
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think it is worth having all church members, particularly those who have been at the same church for many years, read this book and see what they can do differently to help be a welcoming part of a welcoming church. Some sobering observations and questions, but also suggestions and illustrations on how it can be done better.
Luke Thomas
Simple easy church book based on Rainer’s surveys. Some positive points that were made. 1. The church website needs to be hospitable. 2. Having roaming greeters is a huge plus to visitor experience. 3. Avoid holy huddles

I am still unsure what to do when church growth is encouraged by surveys and visitor retention. These are not at the heart of seeking the lost. God is seeking the loss. One believer whom lives out that principle I believe to be better that effective greeters and websi
Robert Reed
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another quality book by Rainer. If you are in church leadership, this is a must-read. If you are a church member with a desire to make your church more inviting for guests, I would highly recommend it. Rainer helps the reader recognize that being hospitable and welcoming is not just a church growth issue... it’s a gospel issue.
Jon Stallings
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
In less than 100 pages Thom Rainer condenses his knowledge as a former pastor and church consultant on how to create a welcoming church without ever losing and outreach priority. Should be required reading for all church leadership.
Justin Offutt
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great and convicting book. All of these things Thom points out should be basic things a church should already be doing, how many of these basics we have overlooked. It's time to make the effort to be hospitable for the gospel of Christ.
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Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In a
“Seven out of ten guests will go to a church website as a determinative factor in where they will choose to visit.” 1 likes
“In other words, if you aren’t focusing resources and time on your church website, you are thumbing your nose at the Great Commission. And that’s not an overstatement. A church with a lousy website is committing the sin of Great Commission negligence.” 0 likes
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