Author Archives: Charles Arn

Are Your New Members Becoming New Ministers? (Charles Arn)

Eleven years ago my wife and I joined a new church. I remember how alone I felt on Sunday mornings in those first few months. My wife was a better “joiner” than I. She had made some new friends and seemed well on her way to calling the church “our church.” But it wasn’t quite as easy for me.

Then, one Sunday morning an announcement appeared in the bulletin for the All-Church Work Day in two weeks. “Why not?” I thought. That Saturday I arrived at 8:30 a.m., and was assigned to help paint Room 14. When I walked in, I found two other people working away. We introduced ourselves and spent the next 3 hours painting doors, closets, walls, and floorboards. Of course, you can’t be in a room with two other people for three hours without conversing. And it was a good time. But, what happened next Sunday was even better. I found that I had made two new friends. Alex walked up to me and playfully asked, “Say, is that blue paint I see in your ear?!” And later Megan came up and introduced her husband and children to me. Ten years later, I still call these people friends.

The first 6-12 months of a newcomer’s association with your church are both important, and perilous. The “friendship factor” is the key ingredient in whether newcomers become long-term attenders, or just slip quietly out the back door. Research shows that the average “active member” makes over 7 new church friends in the first 12 months, “drop outs” make only 2.

The best way to help newcomers make friends is to help them: 1) get involved in a small group, and 2) get involved in a ministry role/task. Of course, these two recommendations apply to every member not just new members. Let’s take a look at church ministry roles/tasks. (See my earlier article, New…Works, for more on small groups.)

The chart below is a quick reference guide to help you determine how well your church is (or is not) involving members in ministry. Note that items #7 – #12 are specifically for newcomers. To assess your church, first fill in the blank at the top left on line 1—your “Total Church Constituency”. (OK. I realize it looks something like a tax form.) This number reflects your overall church family; that is, a combination of church members plus regular attenders. Next, determine in which column your church falls on lines 2—18. All the numbers are percentages. Calculate your percentages based on your “total church constituency” (line 1), unless otherwise noted.

If you find your scores fall primarily in the left columns, the focus of your lay ministry is probably inward, and your people see themselves as “workers” with a church job. The farther your scores are to the right, the more likely you have an outward-focus and your people likely see themselves as “ministers” in mission. It is on the right side, obviously, where effective ministry occurs.



You are safe to assume that newcomers are “relational introverts.” Most are not comfortable around new people or unfamiliar situations. Therefore, go out of your way to personally invite newcomers to:

  • help in church-related projects. Special activities that are already on the church calendar (i.e., decorating for Christmas, painting the church, repaving the parking lot, re-carpeting the nursery, etc.) are great opportunities for newcomers to help out and make new friends in the process.
  • go on special church outings and events. Invite newcomers to any family camps, mission trips or summer picnics. In fact, ask them for help in the planning process, as well.
  • assume a responsibility in a class/group. If the newcomer is already part of a small group (hopefully so) ask if he/she would be willing to help bring refreshments, photo copy handouts, occasionally host the meeting at their house.
  • serve as greeter or usher in the worship service. I recommend multiple usher and greeter teams that rotate (each team is on for one month, then off for two) so you can involve more people, especially newcomers. (In fact, I am convinced that ushers and greeters don’t all need to be members!)

Tap into the power of building friendships through appropriate places of service and you’ll find many more newcomers beginning to feel like your church is “our” church.

Q: Who is More Important Than Your First-Time Visitors? A: Your Second-Time Visitors! (Charles Arn)

My Experience…

Ten years ago my family and I moved into a new home and neighborhood, and used the summer to search for a new church home. In 8 of the 10 churches we visited, I filled out a visitor card or signed a guest register. (Two churches had no way for visitors to identify themselves.)  Of the churches visited, 6 of 8 sent a “Thank you for visiting” letter, and 2 had a representative phone us the following week.

My family especially enjoyed three of the churches and decided to go back for another visit. I again completed the visitor information and, the following week, checked the mailbox for a follow-up. Monday … Tuesday … Wednesday … no letter … Thursday … Friday … Saturday … nothing. No card. No call. No contact.

We returned to the same three churches for a third visit in our search for a church home. Visitor card? Completed.  Left with the church? Check. Received any follow-up contacts the next week? None.

My Questions…

Do you have a way to let your first-time guests know that you are glad they came? A letter? Phone call? Post card? Hopefully so. But what about your second-time guests; the ones who liked the experience enough to come back? By their presence, they are telling you: “We’re interested in your church.”

And, what about those who visit your church a third time? They are telling you, “I’m really, really interested in your church!” So, 1) Do you even know who your second-time guests are? and, 2) Do you do anything about it?

It should seem obvious that people who visit a church are more likely to join than those who don’t visit. That’s why most churches have a follow up process for first-time visitors … to encourage such affiliation. So, why are we often missing an equally obvious conclusion that people who visit twice are more likely to join those who visit just once? And, three times more than twice?

The Research

A few years ago I was part of a research study on the topic of “visitor retention.” We asked participating churches to go back into their records 2 to 3 years and select a continuous six-week period (such as Sept. 1 – October 15 or January 1 – February 15). Then, they were asked to examine their data and identify all those people who had visited the church one time during that six-week period; next, identify those who had visited twice; finally, identify the people who had visited three times during those six weeks. The churches were then asked to jump forward one year and identify which of those visitors had become regular attenders. We divided the churches into two categories: those growing in worship attendance, and those not. Here are the percentages of visitors who were in the church one year later, compared with how many times they had visited in the six-week period…

Percentage of Visitors Who Stayed

Number of visits in
Non-growing Churches Growing Churches
One Visit 9% 21%
Two Visits 17% 38%
Three Visits 36% 57%

There are some important insights from this study:

  • The typical declining American church sees 1 in 10 first time visitors (9%) become part of their congregation.
  • The typical growing church see 2 of 10 first-time visitors (21%) become active.

KEY QUESTION: “Do you know your church’s visitor retention rate of first-time visitors?”

  • But, when visitors return a second time, the retention rate nearly doubles (in both growing and non-growing churches).
  • When people visit the same church 3 times in a six-week period, over 1/3 of them stay (36%) in declining churches. And over half (57%) stay in growing churches.

KEY QUESTION: “Do you know your church’s visitor retention rate of second- and third-time visitors?”

To put this research, and the apparent facts, into a simple conclusion: The more often people visit, the more likely they will stay.

My Suggestions…

Analysis of your weekly worship attendance will provide you with a wealth of insights. Just as the information from a barometer will help you forecast coming weather patterns, information from your worship attendance will help you forecast coming growth patterns. I’m talking about more than just counting heads on Sunday. You need to know that last week Mike and Denise McKay visited your church for the third time in the past two months. (And, as long as you’re tracking attendance, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that Patty Culver, a regular member in your church, has not been in worship for three Sundays now.)

Unfortunately, most churches either don’t take regular attendance, or don’t capture the information they need, or don’t glean important patterns of their people flow.* Here are three “to-do’s” that will enhance your stewardship of the people God has put in your trust…

  1. Obtain attendance information
  2. Monitor attendance patterns
  3. Respond to attendance indicators

Obtain Attendance Information

How do you know who was at your church last Sunday and who was not? There is not one “right” way. But, here are ideas from other churches…

  • A pew pad at the end of each row that is signed and passed from one end to the other. Most people sign a sheet that is handed to them, so it’s usually a good indicator of who’s in the service and who’s not. The downside is that it’s not very private and thus difficult to add more information (i.e., prayer requests, name/address, notes to staff, etc. ).
  • Registration cards in the seat back in front of the worshipper. A good approach is to ask each attendee to complete a card, not just the visitors. Newcomers don’t like to be publicly identified, so asking them to (awkwardly and obviously) reach forward and fill out a “Visitor Card” lowers the percentage of people who will do so. A Lutheran church of over 5,000 in Houston uses one card with two sides—the blue side for all members and regular attenders, and the green side for those who still consider themselves newcomers. Good idea.
  • A perforated flap inside your bulletin or printed program. Each attendee is asked to complete and then tear off the “communication note” and drop it in the offering plate when it comes by. This approach allows for more confidential information to be shared, gives members and visitors an opportunity to all participate, and provides an “easy out” for putting at least something in the offering plate. (Of course, some pastors prefer a different approach for that same reason. )
  • A church in southern California prints peel-off labels with the names of each member and regular attender on 4-across computer labels (each is approximately 1” x 2”). The continuous form labels are torn into 5’ lengths and taped to the wall in the lobby. Worshippers enter the building, find their nametag (listed in alphabetical order), peel it off and stick it on their shirt/blouse for the morning. It’s also a handy way to give people a reminder of “what’s his name” who they met last week.  And, coincidentally, the nametags that are remaining on the 5’ sheets after the last service indicate who was not there.  (Visitors/guests can get a similar nametag printed at the guest center, which also gives the church a record of visitor information. )
  • A smaller rural church in Kansas has appointed a woman to be their attendance checker. She sits in the choir at the front of the church and then, during the service, compares her membership roster against the people in the pews. Before you laugh at this idea, the same woman practices her spiritual gift of hospitality by introducing herself to those newcomers after the service.
  • Small groups and adult Bible classes can be asked to check worship attendance for the people in their group.
  • And, a few examples on the higher tech side…one large church in Atlanta has two video cameras mounted in the worship center that scan and record those in attendance using facial recognition software.  (Other churches just use the video to later identify attendees.)
  • A church in Las Vegas issues electronically coded ID cards to members and regular attenders that are used for child-care check-in, financial contributions, member voting, etc.  Sunday morning a scanner at each door records those who pass by…without even needing to remove the card from their wallet. (Members are aware of this process and think it’s great!)

Monitor Attendance Patterns

Here, the computer is your best friend. Whether it’s a bells and whistles church software program, or a home-made spreadsheet, you’ll need a way to enter and evaluate the data. At the beginning of each week print a report that provides you with:

  • First-time visitors (names and address, if available).
  • Second-time visitors, plus the date of their first visit.
  • Third-time visitors, plus the dates of their first and second visits.
  • Number and percent of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd time visitors to total attendance (5% or greater is healthy).
  • Members and regular attenders who were absent (totals and percentages).
  • Members and regular attenders who have missed three services in a row. (Half of these people will be gone within a year if their absence is ignored. )
  • You may want to include additional information in your report, such as a comparison of these same numbers with the report from a year ago.

Respond to Attendance Indicators

To get started, I recommend you sit down and compose two follow-up letters, one to 2nd time guests, and one to 3rd time guests (assuming you already have one for 1st timers).

Next, invite a group of 4-5 people together (including some new members) who would be willing to help design a system to identify, follow up, and track 2nd and 3rd time guests. The goal is to connect these newcomers with people in the church who share similar interests, marital and family status, age, gender, etc. Then do some “sanctified match-making” with newcomers and regular attenders. Research clearly shows that the more friends a newcomer makes in a church, the more likely he/she will become active and involved.  And, of course, for those long-time members who have been gone the last few Sundays, let them know that “We missed you…you’re an important part of our family…we’re looking forward to seeing you next week.”

Visitors represent 100% of your church’s growth potential. It’s a wise investment to give them the time, honor, and attention they deserve.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”  (Heb. 13:2)

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* I find it sad to hear suggestions from some church leaders that “counting people” is too much of a worldly focus on numbers…despite the fact that they carefully count their dollars as part of the church’s business.

Your Church Needs Two New Side-Doors Next Year (Charles Arn)

The front doors of many churches today are closing. “Front doors” is a term that describes how most newcomers first come in contact with a church—as visitors to worship or to some other special event.  It is out of this visitor pool that churches have traditionally identified prospective new members.  However, in the past 20 years both the total number of church visitors has been declining, as well as the percentage of visitors to total attendance in most churches.

If you want to see your church survive, let alone thrive, I suggest that you build some new “side-doors” that will create new ways to connect with people in your community.

What is a “side-door”?  Here is a definition:

Side-door: A church-sponsored program, group, or activity in which a non-member/non-Christian can become comfortably involved and develop meaningful relationships with people in the church.

A side-door provides a place where church members and non-members develop friendships around something important they share in common. And such friendships are an important key that describes the most important means by which people come to Christ and the church.  (See The Silver Bullet for Disciple-Making.)

Here are just a few examples of actual side-doors that churches have created where members and non-members are developing friendships around common interests. There are side-doors in churches for people who:

• ride motorcycles • have children in the military • own RVs • are recent widowers • are newlyweds • enjoy reading books • are unemployed • suffer from chronic pain • have husbands in jail • are nominal Jews • have spouses who are not believers • are fishermen • are single mothers • want to get in better physical condition • wish to help homeless families • play softball • are interested in end-times • have a bed-ridden parent • are raising grandchildren • are moms with teenage daughters • need help managing their finances • enjoy scrap-booking • are children in blended families • have children with a learning disability • are married to men who travel frequently • enjoy radio controlled airplanes • are pregnant • are affected by homosexuality • struggle with chemical dependency • are empty-nesters • enjoy camping • are divorced with no children • have a family member diagnosed with cancer • are single dads • enjoy SCUBA diving • are hearing-impaired …and that’s just a start!

About 10% of the churches in the United States are side-door churches in which “…most of the new people who connect with the church made first contact through a ministry other than the worship service.”[1] We also know that approximately 14% of churches in the U.S. are experiencing growth in the worship attendance. While I have not tried to correlate these two numbers, it would not be surprising to find a strong relationship between “side-door churches” and “growing churches”.  Rev. Craig Williford, recalling his experience in leading two growing churches, says: “Our weekend services were very vital. But the side door ministries produced more evangelism and brought far more new people into our church.”[2]

What You Can Do About It

How can your church begin creating side doors—new groups, new classes, new activities where members and non-members can build friendships?  Here are some guidelines for starting new side-doors:

1.  Find the Passion. Everyone in your church cares deeply about something; sometimes it’s a number of things. Such passion generally falls into one of two categories: “Recreational” or “Developmental”. The first relates to how people like to spend their free time. Topics may range from baking apple pies to studying zoology. The second category, Developmental, relates to major life issues. Topics usually center around: health, finances, relationships, or employment.

2.  Hold an “exploratory” meeting. Invite three or more people who share the same passion to a brainstorming session to discuss the idea of your church starting a new ministry for people who —– [the area of passion]. Include an announcement in the church bulletin inviting interested worshippers to the meeting. Explain that participants in the meeting are not being asked to get involved in the project, just to share their ideas and brainstorm possibilities for a new ministry. Gather the group, perhaps over a meal, and explore the possibilities of your church starting such a ministry. Explain that one of the primary purposes of the new ministry is to build friendships with non-members through connecting around a common interest. Let the meeting take its course, and see what kind of interest is generated. If there is any enthusiasm, take the next step:

3.  Research other churches. Chances are good that there are churches that have already developed a creative ministry in the area you are considering. If the brainstorming group is interested and willing, ask individuals to go online and search out any other churches that might have a ministry for people with that particular interest. Then compare notes with others who have done similar research.

4.  Describe what such a ministry could look like in five years. Assess the enthusiasm of the group in taking the next step to explore a new ministry. Don’t expect 100% success in all exploratory gatherings. If there aren’t at least three people with the desire to help start a new ministry, put the idea on the back burner. You’re looking for a spark of enthusiasm that might catch hold of a group of dreamers in your church.

5. Form a “Ministry Planning Team” with at least three people who are willing to help build a new ministry (side-door) in your church.  Develop a timeline with dates and events for the next year. Agree that in six months the activities will be evaluated as to whether there is a possible future for this new ministry idea. And discuss how the church can be most supportive in this new initiative.

There is, of course, much involved in creating a fully-functioning side-door ministry. But most growing churches today have at least one side door that grew out of the passion of members, and has become an entry-path to life in Christ and that church.  Why not try it and see what happens.  You might be pleasantly surprised…

(For a more information and a planning guide for building side doors, see the book Side Door published by Wesley Publishing House, 2013.)

[1] Gary McIntosh. Beyond the First Visit. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006, p. 22.

[2] Denver Seminary Magazine: Fall 2004 Sep 15, 2004 Emergent Dialogue.

Does Your Church Have a Sabbatical Leave Policy? (Charles Arn)

The role of pastor is extremely stressful. In effect he/she is never off duty. This long-term stress takes a toll emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Churches that want to keep their pastor for many years must provide him/her with a season of rest. I recommend that all full-time pastors and staff receive a three-month paid sabbatical every six or seven years.

The Battle Wounded …

Consider the following statistics[i]:

  • 23% of pastors have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
  • 25% of pastors don’t know where to turn when they have a family or personal issue.
  • 45% of pastors say that they have experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence.
  • 56% of pastors’ spouses say that they have no close friends.
  • 70% don’t have any close friends.
  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  • 80% say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.

Time for Some R & R …

Universities and colleges have given professors sabbaticals for many years. Originally modeled on the biblical cycle of work and rest, professors receive a sabbatical for research, writing, travel, and rest every seven years.

Many churches today find that by providing a regular sabbatical for their pastors, they are able to keep them for a longer period of time. And, as I mentioned in an earlier article here, there is a direct relationship between pastoral longevity and church growth.

Two Examples …

A number of books, articles, and examples are available to help you avoid re-inventing the wheel in developing a policy. Google: “pastoral sabbatical policy” and you will find over 3,700 hits. Here are two examples of churches’ sabbatical policies:

Example #1

Personal development leave is for professional growth that will benefit our church.

  • Leave accrues at 1.5 weeks per year of service.
  • A pastor must serve a minimum of 2 years before scheduling a study leave.
  • All personal development leave must be scheduled and approved by the church Council. The Administrative Committee will make a recommendation based upon a review of all the pastor’s schedules and the purpose of the leave with the assurance that all ministries will be properly carried on.
  • A pastor will serve a minimum of 6 months following the use of any personal development leave.
  • Accrued personal development leave is forfeited when a pastor resigns. The church Council may waive this in the case of a tendered resignation.

Example #2

Sabbatical leave may be granted to full-time pastoral staff members for the pursuit of activities as approved by the Council of Elders. The following stipulations and requirements will apply:

  • Sabbaticals may be approved for six months at the culmination of each seven years of full-time ministry at the Church. Each staff member may apply vacation time earned to extend his/her leave to a maximum of one month.
  • Full salary and benefits will be paid during the leave.
  • A detailed proposal for use of a sabbatical leave will be presented to the Council of Elders at the time of application for leave. Applications should be presented six months prior to expected leave. The council has the right to deny leave for sabbaticals it feels does not meet its approval.
  • The intent of sabbatical leave is to further the ministry of our church.
  • Upon returning, the staff member taking a sabbatical leave will give a report to the Council of Elders on what was achieved during the leave.


Each year your church should put aside an amount equivalent to one-twelfth of the pastor’s annual salary to cover the salary during the sabbatical leave. The seventh year of a pastor’s tenure is often one of mental and spiritual fatigue. By allowing the pastor to take a three-month sabbatical at this time the pastor’s life will be re-energized which will have a positive impact on the church’s ministry, as well.



How to Improve Your Welcome (Charles Arn)

Some time ago my family and I moved to a new house and neighborhood, and in the process visited a number of churches in search of a new place to worship. The experience reminded me of how other newcomers must feel in visiting a church for the first time. New faces…new places …new spaces. The truth is, it’s not a particularly enjoyable experience!

Here are a few simple ways you can increase the warmth of your church’s welcome; and, as a result, increase the number of first-time visitors who return…and stay.

For Starters…

  • Don’t call them “visitors.” According to Webster, a visitor is “…a person who resides temporarily; one who goes or comes to inspect; one who makes a short stay at a place for a particular purpose.” May I suggest you instead use the word guest, defined as: “a person welcomed into one’s house; a person to whom hospitality is extended; a person held in honor who is due special courtesies.”
  • Stop using the word “greeter” defined as “one who meets or extends welcome in a specified manner; one who gives a formal salutation at a meeting.”  Start using the word host—“one who receives or entertains socially; one who opens his or her home for a special event; one who takes particular care and concern that guests are well accommodated.” And discuss with your “hosts” the new implications of their new title.

First Impressions…

  • Parking Lot Hosts. Deploy a team of your members to greet and welcome folks the moment they step out of their cars. Or, if it’s raining, parking lot hosts should have umbrellas ready before guests step out of their cars! These hosts can greet everyone coming to church, but should pay particular attention to the guest parking area or to newcomers. A warm welcome should be extended and an inquiry made as to special needs or questions guests may have. Parking lot hosts may accompany guests into the building and introduce them to the host at the welcome center. (You do have a welcome center, don’t you?)
  • Celebration Balloons. It’s common to see strings of helium-filled balloons attracting your attention to RV sales and used car lots around town. Does your church have something to celebrate? Why not get folks into the mood with columns of colorful balloons reaching heavenward? How about a great arch of balloons leading into the building? “…it is appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.” (Lk 15:32) Sunday should be celebration time!
  • Piped-out Music. Install a number of strategically placed outdoor speakers welcoming people to God’s house with the music of heaven. If you have a recording of your own worship band or musical group, use it. Otherwise, there’s lots of great Christian music available.

Second Impressions…

  • Direction signs. You can’t have too many signs on the church property. If your campus has more than one building, the name of each should be clearly visible. Direction signs should be at every major “intersection,” in and outside the church. Identification signs should be on every inside door (including closets and storage). Children’s classrooms should be marked with age/grade level. Adult classrooms should note the topic, age group, and time of meeting. (BTW, class names exclude, class topics include.) Restrooms, nursery, chapel, fellowship hall, library, and worship center should all be identified with conforming and attractive signs.
  • Welcome Center Support Hosts. Many churches have a person or two working inside a welcome center kiosk or at a welcome table. That’s good. But move from a good welcome to a great welcome by also stationing hosts in front of the kiosk/table where guests will be standing. Those hosts answering questions at the Welcome Center may call on support hosts to escort guests to a particular location in the church (i.e. nursery, classroom, sanctuary, etc.), or simply make a “social hand off” of the newcomer for a more casual conversation with a church member. Such hosts engage the guests in friendly conversation and may introduce them to others in the fellowship area.
  • Guest Information Packet. Every church should have an attractive packet prepared specifically for newcomers. The basic questions your guests are asking should be answered in this kit. They are: “What kind of things are going on in this church?” [The more the better.] “Is there a place for my kids?” [If not, nothing else matters.] “How can I learn more about this church?” [See “Church Tour” below.] One of the best ways to answer all these questions is with a video brochure. This is a well-produced 8-10 minute introduction to the church with words from the pastor, staff, and some new members. Put the video on a DVD in the packet, and include it on your website.  A gift for guests is also a nice touch. I’ve seen coffee mugs, fresh baked bread, complimentary Bibles and CDs, donuts and cappuccino at the snack bar, even free $30 polo shirts with a Christian symbol on the front. All are nice touches.
  • Class Hosts. Every adult, youth, and children’s class should have at least one host. Their task is to look for newcomers, welcome them, introduce them to others, sit with them, and generally be sensitive to their comfort and needs. Hosts may be the same throughout the year or vary from week to week.

In the Service…

  • Worship Center Hosts. Don’t stop being a good host at the Welcome Center. If your sanctuary/worship center is a bustle of activity before the service begins, why not ask some of your members to host a pre-determined area of seats? When newcomers sit in their area, a good worship center host will go over and welcome them to the church, and engage them in conversation. If there will be any special activities in the service which might need explanation, it’s a good chance to give a “heads up.”  Hosts should introduce the guests to the person(s) next to them. Perhaps even sit with them.
  • Pastor’s Welcome. During the service I like to hear someone from the platform tell me they’re glad I’m here. Not personally, of course. No newcomer likes to be singled out in public. But when the pastor spends valuable time in the service telling me that I’m valued by the church, it makes a big difference. And it’s more than just, “If you’re visiting today, welcome.” It means explaining a little about the church, what a wonderful place it is, how great the people are, and why the benefit of getting involved is worth the price of my anticipated anxiety.
  • A Time of Greeting. Many churches include a moment during the service to shake hands and greet those around them. This is either a good idea or a bad idea…and it depends on what happens after the service. It’s good if folks continue their initial conversation with the guest. It’s bad if they pretend nothing ever happened a half-hour earlier and beat a hasty path to the exit. If your people are naturally congenial with newcomers, then a greeting time in the service is great. If not, try the following idea…

After the Service…

  • After-service Hosts. Our research reveals three insights about church visitors:
  1. “Friendliness of the people” is the most important thing newcomers are looking for in their visit.
  2. “Friendliness” is assessed on the simple basis of how many people talk to them.
  3. The most important time for such “friendly talk” is immediately following the service.

After-service hosts are responsible for making a beeline to newcomers after the service to welcome them, walk with them to the coffee table, introduce them to others, and invite them back. A variation of this strategy, in one church we visited, was when the pastor reminded the congregation of their “three minute rule”—no one could talk to anyone they knew during the first three minutes following the service! It worked for us. We met a wonderful woman named “Rose” who had been attending for the past year. Our conversation lasted over 15 minutes! As you might guess, we looked for Rose the following Sunday when we returned.

  • Church Tour. Newcomers are hesitant to wander around a new church uninvited, even though they’d like to. So, why not offer a short tour of the facilities after each service? Such a tour is a low-commitment, limited-time, high-information event for anyone interested in learning more about your church. The tour leader guides the guests through various halls and rooms, explaining what activities take place there. It’s natural for guests to ask questions about various ministries or upcoming events. And it’s a much easier “next step” for newcomers who are interested in learning more, but not ready to sign up for a membership class.
  • Follow-up Contact. It’s standard procedure for pastors to send a “Thank you for visiting” letter. We received nice ones from every church we visited. But following our second visit to several of those churches …nothing. In the typical (non-growing) church, 9% of all first time visitors join the following year. But among second-time visitors (those who visit twice within a six-week period), 17% join. And third-time guests unite at a rate of 36% in the ensuing year. In growing churches, the pattern is similar: 21% of first-timers stay…38% of second-timers …57% of third-timers join the church they visited. Whether your church is growing or not, the insight is clear: the more often people visit, the more likely they will stay. Have a unique follow-up strategy for second time guests and another for third-timers.


Your church probably can’t implement all of these ideas. Nor should you try. But circulate this list among your leaders and see if they resonate to any of them. Get a group together and brainstorm how some of the ideas might work in your church. Set a target date to have the plan in place. Then begin.

After you’ve successfully implemented one idea, find another and consider how it might work. While more than just an outside music speaker or an inside classroom host is needed to see newcomers become active members, such new ideas will raise the awareness level of your members to the importance of welcoming guests and making them feel comfortable in your church home. The newcomers who enter your front doors are the ones Christ wants you to welcome in the same way He would do so, Himself. After all, we are the caretakers of His house…at least until that day when He invites us to His eternal home.  And then we’ll find out what a good first-time welcome is really like!   🙂

Identifying the Obstacles to Church Growth (Charles Arn)

Healthy people grow. Healthy animals grow. Healthy trees grow. Healthy plants grow. Healthy churches grow. Growth is a characteristic that God supernaturally breathed into all living things. And the body of Christ—the local church—is a living thing.

So, when a church is not growing, it is helpful to ask: “Why?”  If we understand the reason for a church’s lack of growth, it is easier to accurately diagnose the cause and to prescribe the cure.  Here are the five most common “growth-restricting obstacles”…

Growth-restricting obstacle #1: The Pastor.

There are three different causes if the pastor is inhibiting the growth of a church:

1. The pastor does not have a PRIORITY. Churches grow when they have a priority for reaching the unchurched. When the pastor doesn’t, the church won’t. (See Luke 19:10)

2. The pastor does not have a VISION. Growing churches have pastors who believe God wants to reach people in their community and assimilate them into the Body. No vision for outreach is as much a barrier as no priority.  (See Acts 16:9)

3. The pastor does not have the KNOWLEDGE. Working harder is not the secret to effective outreach. The secret is working smarter. Unfortunately, little is taught in most seminaries or Bible schools about how to invest the limited resources of a church for the greatest return.  (See Mt. 25:14-30)

Growth-restricting obstacle #2: The church members.

There are often competent and skilled clergy in non-growing churches, because the problem is not in the pulpit, it’s in the pews. Church members can keep a church from growing when:

Members have no priority for reaching the lost. “Sure, our church should reach people,” some say. “But me? I’ve got three kids, a job, membership at the health club, and a lawn to mow. Someone else with more time should feel compelled.”  (see II Pe. 3:9)

Members have a self-serving attitude about church. When members believe the priority of the pastor and the church should be to “feed the sheep” who are already in the flock, the message that newcomers hear is: “We like our church just the way it is…which is without you!”  (see Mt. 9:37)

Members fear that new people will destroy their fellowship. When “community” is the number one priority in a church, active membership will not grow beyond 100 people.  Beyond that point, members won’t know everyone…and, in their minds, that price of growth becomes greater than the benefit.  (II Cor. 4:5)

Growth-restricting obstacle #3: Perceived irrelevance.

Growing churches start with the issues and concerns of the people in their community, and then relate the gospel to those points of need. Stagnant churches are seen by the unchurched as having an irrelevant message.  (see Acts 2:6)

Growth-restricting obstacle #4: Using the wrong methods.

Any farmer knows you can’t harvest ripe wheat with a corn-picker. Using inappropriate methods can be worse than no methods, since they create resistance to the gospel. A bullhorn on a downtown street corner, English tracts in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, youth outreach in a senior adult community…none of these methods are wrong. But they are inappropriate for the harvest field.  (see Mt. 7:9)

Growth-restricting obstacle #5: No plan for assimilation.

Over 80 percent of those who drop out of church do so in the first year of their membership. A new member does not automatically become an active member without an intentional plan by the church on how to assimilate them into a caring, loving, Christian community.  (see Eph. 2:19)

There are many reasons why churches don’t grow. But there are no good reasons. Healthy churches grow. God wants your church to grow. He created it to grow. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding out what’s keeping it from growing, and removing those obstacles. What about your church?

NOTE: For more on how to identify and smash obstacles to your church’s growth, see the new book WHAT EVERY PASTOR SHOULD KNOW—101 Rules for Effective Leadership and Ministry for Your Church  (Baker Publishing.)  And, watch for the new “Church Revitalization Certificate” available through Wesley Seminary in early 2015!

How to “Hit a Home Run” in Your Next Sermon Series… (Charles Arn)

Here’s how to be guaranteed that listeners will eagerly anticipate your next series of messages, waiting to hear your words—and God’s—on the selected topic.

First, some background…

A few years ago the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps asked me to research the attitudes of incoming 18-, 19-, and 20-year old recruits toward religion and church.  I interviewed young men and women across mainstream America.  One of the questions I asked was, “What is your opinion of church?”  Two words came back over and over: boring and irrelevant.

“Relevance” is one of the hallmarks of an effective, contagious church. Attendees who find their church speaking clearly and creatively to life issues not only return, but bring friends. “Relevance” is found in the words and rhythm of songs…in the style and appearance of facilities…in children’s Sunday School and topics in the adult classes.  But perhaps more than any other area, relevance must be found in the sermon.

In his book, What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary, veteran pastor James Emery White talks about how to make preaching relevant: “The most important thing has to do with your sermon topics. They should address people’s life issues and questions about the faith… That means you try to bring as much of the counsel of God as you can to them through the door of their interests.”

How do you learn the interests, concerns, and needs of your congregation so that you can connect God’s Word with their world in a relevant way?  Rather than guess, why not ask them?


Insert a 3×5 card in each church bulletin or program for the next several weeks, and point it out during the service.  Explain that one of your goals, as pastor, is to help the Word of God to be understood and applied in people’s daily lives so that it is relevant to both those in the church, and those in the community.  Describe the purpose of the card—to list key life issues they are facing at the moment.

Give listeners time to think about their responses to three questions, and then write them down on the card. At the end of the service attendees should drop their completed “answer cards” in one of several marked boxes on their way out. The cards should, of course, be anonymous.


  1. What do you wonder about?  What do you just not understand—or wish you did understand—about how life works?  Is it “Why bad things happen to good people?”  Or, maybe “Does prayer really work?”  Perhaps you wonder about “What happens when you die?” or “Why do innocent children suffer?”  If more than one thing comes to mind, write them all down.
  2. What do you worry about?  What keeps you up at night; causes your heart to beat faster, your anxiety to rise?  Perhaps it’s a financial issue.  Maybe a relationship gone bad.  Is there realistic hope in your worse case scenario?
  3. What do you wish for?  If money were no obstacle, time or other commitments could not stop you, what is your dream?  What would you love to see, or do?  Maybe travel somewhere. Have lots of money.  A particular job, or a special relationship?  Dreams are powerful motivators.  What’s yours?

After the service, collect the cards.  Repeat the process for the next two weeks so that people can add additional items, and those who did not attend the previous week can contribute.

On your computer create three different documents (one for each question) and transcribe the responses.  (Asking a secretary or volunteer to help may be a better use of your time.)

Then, review the responses to each question and look for common themes.  Identify general response categories for each question and make tic marks (IIII) for similar answers.  Finally, identify the most frequent responses to each question.  Once you have identified what people wonder about…worry about…wish for… you have tapped into relevance.

Your congregation will be interested in the results.  On the Sunday after your last survey, share the list and frequency of the responses.  A visual illustration or printed document will add interest.

Explain that you will be taking these responses seriously, doing research, and sharing messages in the coming months that speak to these issues.  If you are organized enough, print a list of upcoming dates in which the service will address these topics.  Encourage members to bring a friend or relative on the day(s) which may be relevant to them.


Ask a group of creative people to help you plan the services.  Use the entire service to focus on the issue.  Consider drama, a panel discussion, personal testimonies, video clips.  You have an hour to address the issue.  Remember that the sermon is not the message…the service is the message.  Make it a comprehensive and engaging growth experience.

Use the series as an opportunity to invite past visitors, parents of VBS kids, inactive members, and other groups with whom you have a connection.  And in this context, communicate to all who come that Christ’s “…grace is sufficient for all your needs”  (2nd Cor. 12:9).  That’s another name for relevance!


“New” … Works! (Charles Arn)

Here’s a growth axiom you can take to the bank.  Whether you are pastoring a (large, medium, or small) church…leading a youth group…overseeing a music ministry…or involved with any other aspect of a church in which you believe God desires growth, it is just about guaranteed.  Here it is:

New Units = New Growth

 It’s a proven principle.  New Sunday school classes attract new people.  New small groups involve new people.  New worship services connect with new people.  New churches reach new people.

Why It Works

 The most common application of this principle is in starting new groups.  Here is why the strategy of starting new groups is so predictably successful:

•  New groups respond to human need.  In long-established groups, members just like to be together.  Relationships have become the primary value.  And that’s good.  But, often such groups lose their outward-focus and no longer contribute to the growth of the church.  Starting a new group focuses on a specific human need(s) and how the new group will meet that need.  Starting new groups directs a church’s focus outward.

•  New groups involve new people.  Because new groups focus on meeting needs, those who were not previously involved in a group are much more likely to sign up if the new group addresses their need.  And, the more important the need of the prospective attendee, the more likely he/she will take the risk of joining the new group.

•  New groups assimilate people.  The research is clear: The #1 reason people drop out of church is a lack of friendships—the average active member has seven, the average drop-out has two.  Friendship is the “glue” that keeps people involved.  The best way to make new friends in church is to be involved in a small group.  And people with friends…stay.

•  New groups solve the “saturation” problem.  Here’s another fascinating insight from research: Every small group has a “saturation point.”  Just like a saturated sponge that can no longer hold any more water, groups become saturated to where they can no longer hold any more members.  Approximately 90% of all groups saturate after two years together.  So, if all or most of the groups in your church have been together for over two years, you urgently need to start new groups!

Below is a “template”—in the form of ten questions—that will help you successfully start new groups.  When you can answer these questions, you will be well on your way toward new growth through new groups.  And, by the way, when your new groups are focused on connecting with UNCHURCHED people, you will have taken a giant step toward greater outreach, as well.  (See my article on “side doors” for more on this topic.)

How to Start a New Group

 1.  Who is our target audience?

2.  What kind of group would best meet their needs?

3.  How will potential group members be identified?

4.  What are the specific goals of the group?

5.  Who will lead the group?

6.  Will training be necessary for the leader?  If so, how will it occur?

7.  How will we  publicize the group and attract visitors?

8.  When and where will the group meet?

9.  What support will the group and leader need to assure success?

10.  How will this group contribute to the purpose of our church?

New What Else?

The principle of starting new units is like pixie-dust.  New groups?  It works!  New classes?  It works!  New services?  It works!  New churches?  It works!

Here’s one more mind-stretcher.  If you are in a church of 50-75+ average worship attendance, consider the possibility of starting a new site!  “Multi-site” is a rather new idea on the American church landscape, but simply refers to one church meeting in multiple locations.  It’s another application of our “new units = new growth” principle.

The multi-site idea has traditionally been a strategy of larger churches (1000+).  But I would urge readers to consider the idea of adding a new site … even if you have just 50 people in your present worship service. I was recently invited by Warren Bird of Leadership Network, to chat on this topic.  Here’s a link to their 8-minute video:

(For more helpful tips on effective small groups, see Chapter 5 in the new book, What Every Pastor Should Know.)

Do You Treat Your Church Newcomers Like Cancer Patients? … I Hope So! (Charles Arn)

Date: October 18, 2013  (Friday)
Time: 02:35 p.m.
Place: California Urology Medical Clinic, Pomona California 

“Dr. Arn…your biopsy came back positive.  I’m afraid you have prostate cancer.”

I thought he must have been talking to someone else in the room.  But we were alone…and the doctor was looking straight at me.

“Are you sure?” was all I could think of to say.

“Well, you are certainly welcome to get another opinion. But these biopsies are seldom wrong.”

“So, now what?” I asked, which led to a 20-minute conversation about what this newly discovered disease was…how far advanced it might be…and what were the options.

To make a long story short, three months after the biopsy report I had an IV in my arm and was being wheeled down the hallway at the City of Hope Medical Center to what would be a 3-hour surgery. (Robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy to be exact.) For those of you (men) who have been there and done that, I won’t remind you. For those who haven’t, I won’t bore you. But as I think back on the events of the past three months, I’d like to share with you what I learned from hospital staff, doctors, nurses, and even patients at the City of Hope about being a newcomer. I realize that a cancer hospital may not be the first place you would look for insights on welcoming church visitors and new members. But then, again, maybe there are more similarities than we might think…

They Anticipated My Uncertainty. Turning into the hospital driveway, I came upon a kiosk with a large sign: INFORMATION. I stopped, rolled down the window, and received a warm welcome from the man inside. I was given a brochure of the hospital, a map, a letter from the CEO, and told of the complimentary valet parking for first-time guests.
APPLICATION QUESTION: What and where is the first contact you have with your newcomers?
Do you control that contact and make a good first impression, or just hope that it happens?

“First time?” I was asked by a smiling lady as I entered the lobby. It must have been my body language. I’ve been told that a good host can spot a newcomer a mile away.

“Yes,” I responded.

She escorted me to the “Welcome Desk” where three people stood ready to help. After explaining that my wife and I were there to see a certain doctor, the host called a man over and told him where we needed to go. Bill introduced himself as a volunteer and said, “Just stick with me and I’ll show you the quickest way.” I learned, in our hallway conversation, that Bill was an 11-year veteran who had fought and won the same battle in which I was now engaged. I felt an instant bond and wanted to ask him a dozen questions.
APPLICATION QUESTION: Do you have volunteers available to help guests find their way?
Do you match newcomers with members who share things in common?

“We Are Family Here”. More than once I heard this phrase spoken by staff, volunteers, and patients. The words appear in the hospital’s literature and billboards around town. After my surgery I reflected on the value of family. My wife had taken time off work, my mom and sister had visited me after surgery. Other family members around the country had kept in regular contact. The faith, hope, and love one finds in a healthy family is a particular blessing in times of need. I thought about those patients who had no spouse to push their wheelchair, no parents or children to visit and pray for them. The City of Hope motto—“We are family here”— makes sense, especially for those who don’t have any other.
APPLICATION QUESTION: Do you intentionally nurture a sense of “family” (i.e., caring, support, love) in your congregation? Do newcomers experience it, or is it just for the old-timers?

Someone to Hold Your Hand. On the second visit I was introduced to my “patient navigator” and given his e-mail and direct phone number. If I had questions, he either knew the answer or would find the right person to call me back. In addition, I received a directory of names and contact information for key people in the hospital.
APPLICATION QUESTION: Do your new members have someone to help them get involved and connected in the early stages of their relationship with your church? More members drop out in their first year than any other time.

A Connection Center. In a 20’ x 40’ open area, plus several private conference rooms, information was available on various support groups that were sponsored by the hospital. A variety of free mini-books were provided on anything related to cancer. I was given a flyer and explanation of when and where the next prostate cancer workshop would be held. There were free DVDs of staff physicians giving lectures on various topics. Times for the new patient/ family orientation were posted. I could pick out a Christmas ornament, hat, or scarf from a collection that had been handmade by volunteers for patients/families. Here I discovered that a social worker had been assigned to me, and a volunteer walked me down the hall for a pleasant introduction.
APPLICATION QUESTION: How do you introduce your church’s ministries, groups, and activities to newcomers? Do you have descriptive literature and knowledgeable volunteers to help newcomers connect to places, people, and events?

Places to Contribute. Sitting in the lobby waiting for my blood work, I was surprised to hear the melodic notes of a harp. (My first thought, as you might suspect, was to check and be sure I wasn’t in heaven.) It turned out the harpist was a volunteer who had been sharing her talent with patients for the past seven years.
APPLICATION QUESTION: Do you have positions where church members can contribute their gifts and skills toward the mission of your church? Create roles that complement the strengths that your members already have.

Well, there is more to say than I have space…or you have time. So, here are just a few final observations:
Great signage all over campus. Do newcomers know how to get where they want to go in your church?
My wife loved the creative and tasteful decorations. How is the interior décor in your facility?
Literature available in multiple locations. Why limit visitor information to one place in your church?
Floors, windows, and walls were spotless. How would the cleanliness of your buildings compare to a hospital?
A website full of helpful information. What do prospective visitors think about your church based on your website?
A billboard near our house says, “At City of Hope, we live to cure prostate cancer.” How does your church communicate who you are and what you’re all about to the community?
Volunteers and staff seemed like they actually enjoyed what they were doing. What’s the attitude your people bring to church?

In my post-operative consultation a week after surgery, the doctor looked carefully at the test results, then turned to me and said: “You’re cancer free.” I must admit that as those words sunk in, I could not hold back tears. It was probably a variety of emotions. But as I look back on that moment, I recall the joy of realizing that I was free from the ravaging effects of cancer. I can’t help but compare the experience to the joy of realizing that, through Christ, we are free from the ravaging effects of sin. And while a good hospital facilitates the healing of our physical body, a good church should facilitate the healing of our spiritual body. More than one person has shed tears of joy upon realizing that they have been healed by Christ…for eternity!

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.  I have come not to call those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”  Mark 2:17 (NLT)


As you might guess, this was taken BEFORE surgery! 🙂

Charles Arn is Visiting Professor of Outreach at Wesley Seminary, and co-author of the new book, What Every Pastor Should Know: 101 Rules of Thumb for Effective Ministry (recently awarded OUTREACH Magazine’s 2014 Book of the Year in the field of Leadership).

SIDE DOORS—How to Open Your Church to Your Community…and Vice Versa (Charles Arn)

Anyone who has written a book knows the feeling of satisfaction when you finally see your long, hard hours of work make it to the printed page. (It usually takes about a year even after the completed manuscript is turned over to the publisher before the book finally arrives!)

So, I am particularly excited about a book I have been working on for nearly ten years which Wesley Publishing House will soon be releasing—Side Door. It’s my effort to share with church leaders a powerful missional process that has a proven track record in almost every larger growing church today. But the strategy of building church side doors is definitely not limited to larger churches. In fact, it has tremendous potential for medium and smaller sized churches that want to “break the mold” of traditional (and often ineffective) outreach methods, and begin a strategic new missional ministry in their community.

I have reproduced a conversation that recently appeared in the Wesley Publishing House blog about the idea of side doors. I hope you find it instructive in learning more about the principles behind the book, and that you will be encouraged to consider how a side door building strategy could be a breakthrough for new ministry and outreach in your church…

Wesley Publishing House: Thanks for joining us, Dr. Arn! Your book is called Side Door. What is that all about?

Charles Arn: Every church has a metaphorical “front door”— referring to the people who visit on Sunday, some of whom like the church and stay. Then, of course, every church has a “back door”— those people who leave through transfer, inactivity, or death. “Side doors” add a positive new aspect to the “people flow” equation of a local church, and provide a tremendous opportunity to increase the number who become part of their faith community.

WPH: So, what exactly is a “side door”?

Arn:  A side door is a church-sponsored program, group, or activity in which non-members can become comfortably involved on a regular basis.  Such gatherings provide an opportunity for non-members to develop meaningful and valued relationships with people in the church.  The goal of an effective side door is to provide a place where participants (both Christians and non-Christians) can develop friendships around something important that they share in common.

WPH:  Why are side doors so important?

Arn: A big problem most plateaued and declining churches have is that their major source of prospective members comes from their church visitors. This passive approach is becoming less and less effective as fewer and fewer people take the initiative to visit church. In contrast, side doors are a “proactive” way to increase the number of connections the church has with unchurched people, and then nurture those connections into genuine and meaningful relationships with members.

WPH: What are some examples of church side doors?

Arn: Most successful side doors are started by lay people, and are based around special interests, needs, concerns, or passions. A side door can grow out of a recreational interest or a significant life experience. It can focus on a specific age, or span generations. It can be based on a challenging circumstance or a favorite past time. Todd Pridemore, an associate pastor in Missouri and practiced facilitator of side doors in his church, says: “There is almost no activity that is so secular that it cannot be used to create a side door into your congregation.” What makes side doors work is that they bring together people who have something in common.

For example, I have seen successful side door groups in churches for people who: ride motorcycles…have children in the military…own RVs…are recent widowers…are newlyweds…enjoy reading books…are unemployed…suffer from chronic pain…have husbands in jail…enjoy radio controlled airplanes…are nominal Jews…have spouses who are not believers…are fishermen… are single moms…want to get in better physical condition…wish to help homeless families…play softball…are interested in end-times…have a bed-ridden parent…are raising grandchildren.  When I think of the hundreds of possibilities for creative side doors, I can’t help but be reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (I Cor. 9:22).

WPH: So, the key to a successful side door group is that it’s based on people’s interests?

Arn: Exactly. Pastors have told us that one of their greatest challenges is motivating people to be involved in the ministry and work of the church. As a result, in most churches, 10% of the members end up doing 90% of the work.  But the idea of starting new ministries around topics that people are already interested in means that pastors don’t need to try and change people’s interests, they simply need to channel them!  That is, churches with a good side door strategy allow people to do what they already like to do…but now it’s with a great commission purpose.

WPH: Most larger churches have a variety of these creative side door groups and activities.  But what about smaller churches?

Arn: While side doors are an important part of the growth mix in many larger congregations, it is a strategy that is also very well suited for churches under 200. The personal relationships that develop among people in these side door groups provide the best way for smaller churches to connect with people in their community, particularly since they can’t compete with the facilities or programming of larger churches. The key to effective community outreach is: meaningful relationships with unchurched people. Any size church can—and should—be doing that.  Building side doors is simply an easy, yet effective way to do so.

WPH: Why did you write this book?

Arn: In my 30+ years of church consulting, I’ve become convinced that side doors work. The examples are all over. I wrote this book because I have found that many pastors and lay church leaders are not aware of:
1. what side doors are, or how missionally effective they can be
2. how to go about building them in their church

So, my goal in this book is to introduce this important idea to readers, and then provide a hands-on guide for how to apply it.

Speaking of applying the idea of side doors, I am also very excited about a free resource that Wesley Publishing House is providing to readers. It is an 80-page downloadable workbook called the “Side Door Planning Guide.” This is a practical guide, especially for laypersons who have an interest in starting a new ministry around their passion. For example, suppose you are a pastor and you approach several young motorcycle enthusiasts in your church with the idea of starting a motorcycle ministry. Their first question will likely be: “How would we do that?” This 80-page guide is the answer to that question. It’s a workbook that provides a step-by-step process for starting a successful new ministry. The book (Side Door), together with the guidebook (“Side Door Planning Guide”) are a powerful combination of tools to help any church apply this idea in their context.

WPH: What one message do you hope readers will take away from the book?

Arn: It is that fewer and fewer people are visiting churches today. If your church is primarily dependent on visitors as your source of new members, the handwriting is on the wall. Your church will die. You need a new approach to connect with the people in your community and see them become part of the Christian family.  I can guarantee that—when done right—side doors will help you do that.

Pre-order your copy of Side Door from WPH at 800-493-7539.

“Charles Arn’s Side Door is a much-needed resource for the church…”   Jim Dunn (Executive Director, Church Multiplication and Discipleship, The Wesleyan Church)

“Side doors are a very useful approach that can help churches become more missional.  This is a well-articulated book…”  Alan Hirsch (author, missional spokesperson)

Side Door is a must-read for missional practitioners looking to connect incarnationally with their communities…”   Mike Slaughter (pastor, Tipp City, OH)