How to Open Your Church to Reach More People
Side Door: How to Open Your Church to Reach More People is one of eight books written or co-written by Dr. Charles Arn, Visiting Professor of Outreach at Wesley Seminary in Marion, Indiana. Arn has been active in the church growth movement for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on the topic.
The formula for church growth is simple: growth equals people who start attending church minus people who stop attending church. That formula is simple but, for many struggling churches, attracting new attendees isn’t simple at all.
At a typical church, the primary approach for getting new attendees is to make visitors feel welcome and hope that they return. This approach was successful a generation or two ago, when people routinely engaged in “church shopping”, or visiting churches with the intent of selecting a church to join.
From the perspective of the Kingdom of God, of course, the best way to add members to a Christian church is to win people to Christ through evangelism. In today’s U.S. culture, effective evangelism requires innovative approaches that are unfamiliar to most “church folks”. In fact, many of the practices in our churches can repel rather than attract the very people we are trying to reach.
In Side Door, Arn introduces and explains the idea of “side doors”, which are ways that people outside a church can make connections or and build relationships with people in that church – relationships that draw the “outsiders” to Christ and eventually may draw them to the church. Here is an overview of the book (from Amazon):
Outreach for most churches amounts to a smiling face and extended hand at the sanctuary’s front door. It’s from there that we most naturally welcome any and all newcomers who have been invited by friends or by some creative promotional effort.
But God has created far more access to your church than only its front door. Every single believer possesses keys that God can use to open side doors that you might never have considered. If you are willing to seek out the non-traditional doorways, God will reveal to you the most remarkable openings by way of the gifts he has given each person in your congregation.
Author and church-growth expert Charles Arn reveals how vital congregations are good at empowering their people to pursue their unique strengths. It is by discovering the passions of its individual insiders that a church can creatively and effectively draw the outsiders into its fellowship and into Jesus.
This book is crucial not only for a church’s leadership, but for all motivated members who have a vision for engaging more of their local body in relevant ministry. See how God has been drawing believers out of the pews, through their church’s walls, and directly into their communities by way of their side doors. God is using his people to make disciples, and they are actually loving it!
God is all about connecting us with our communities in ways that are relevant to each of our own passions and gifts. See how he will reveal your side door.
To receive more information on the book and order it, visit the Side Door home page. On that page is a link to a free planning guide that will help your church be successful with opening some side doors.