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 guru as it were. Like his other books, Welcoming Church is filled with anecdotes, surveys, and helpful tips and is written in such a way to be accessible to anyone, from a 10 year-old to a 100 year-old. Much of what he has written is taken from personal experience as a pastor or as a church consultant. While there is not a lot of expounding upon Scripture, it does aptly apply Scripture for becoming a welcoming (hospitable – Bible word) church. As Rainer himself wrote, “This book is for those church members who really want to see their churches make a difference,” (p. 4).
On a personal note, being a 1689 LBC guy, I would say he puts a tad too much emphasis on what man can produce. However, I also understand where he is coming from. While I do not recall if he ever quoted 1 Corinthians 9:22 (“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some, [ESV]), that was the verse that kept me from rolling my eyes. Rainer sees everything as a gospel issue from the welcoming station to signage to the nursery. “If [guests] don’t have clarity on how to get to your church buildings, and how to find areas once they arrive, they may not return. They may miss an opportunity to hear the gospel. You get the picture. It’s just that important,” (p. 36). He makes a good point as to its importance. If a person is coming to church for the first time, or has been unchurched for the last 20 years, he/she could get frustrated and never return. In fact, a true story similar to that is in the book.
Coming in at 100 pages, with plenty of white space, this book is an easy read. Published by Broadman & Holman, it contains only 6 chapters, averaging then 16 pages per chapter. There is also a church facility audit and a secret guest survey in the appendices. It’s suggest price is $12.99, but Amazon has it now for $10.76 with prime shipping and Christian Book Distributors has it for an amazing $5.99 ($5 for 10 or more). That being said, I would absolutely recommend this book to every member, especially of a smaller church. As the back of the book says, “Most church members don’t see their churches clearly.”