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Visiting Churches

52 Churches Conclusion

The Journey Is Over, but the Insights Have Just Begun

As we told people about our journey of visiting fifty-two churches in a year, everyone was intrigued. They wanted to hear more and expressed great interest in the book.

A few were envious, wishing they could do the same, but most admitted they could never embark on such a bold quest and certainly not for a full year.

When you see my wife, acknowledge her involvement. She was such a good sport and a great support the entire time.

The purpose of the book, 52 Churches, is to share our adventure.

My prayer is that the narrative, especially the summary, will serve as a means for churches to improve what they do, be more visitor-friendly, and examine practices to make sure they do the right things for the right reasons.

Unfortunately, we witnessed many practices needing an overhaul.

More importantly, I hope readers will have a renewed sense of how diverse Christianity is. May we see other churches not as opposition or through heretical eyes but embrace them with acceptance.

Jesus’s church is vast, with many flavors and nuances. One version is not better than another, simply different. Let’s celebrate our variety and support one another on our faith journeys—regardless of which local branch we attend.

We’ll all celebrate together in heaven. Let’s start practicing here on earth.

52 Churches Workbook

Discover more in The 52 Churches Workbook, with over 200 thought-provoking questions to propel you and your church forward. Great for personal reflection and group discussion.

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Continue the Journey with More Than 52 Churches

Get your copy of More Than 52 Churches today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

The books 52 Churches, The 52 Churches Workbook, and More Than 52 Churches are all part of the Visiting Churches Series, by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Church Improvement Tips

We witnessed more than a few oversights, errors, and blunders that could turn people away. Sadly, many occurred in more than one church.

Here are some pointers, some church improvement tips, to consider so you don’t scare away guests.

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Consider these four discussion questions: 

1. Realtors stress curb appeal. So should churches. 

What can you do to make the outside of your building inviting? How can you ensure the inside continues the positive experience?

2. Having an online presence is critical to attract new people. Short of a personal invitation, most people won’t visit a church that lacks an inviting online presence. 

What steps can you take to invite people to your church?

3. People attend a church for the service. Make it easy for everyone to participate. 

What can you personally do to help newcomers better understand and take part in your service?

4. To remain viable for the long term, a church needs to look outside themselves. Too many churches have an internal focus. 

What outward-looking initiatives could you pursue?

Consider these church improvement tips and pick one to focus on. Then move to the next one.

[See the prior set of questions, the next post in this series, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Generalizations from 52 Churches

Stating generalities is risky, but it is a way of processing information. 

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Here are two areas to discuss:

1. In our experiences, churches with older congregations and traditional services tended to be friendlier than contemporary services with younger people. 

Does your church match this observation or break from it? What must change?

2. I’m dismayed that we witnessed dogmatic, closed-minded, and exclusive attitudes at some churches

If your church produces division, what can you do to promote unity?

Seek ways to be friendly and promote unity at your church.

[See the prior set of questions or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

A Second Perspective on Visiting 52 Churches

My wife went with me to every church we visited. “What an adventure!” she said. “We had the honor of worshipping with friends, old and new.” 

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Here are two key considerations to discuss: 

1. The most important thing she learned from this trek was how to—and how not to—make someone feel welcome. 

How can you better reach out to visitors and those you don’t recognize?

2. The church is the body of Christ, not a single congregation or just one denomination. We have a huge spiritual family, with varied practices. 

How should you adjust your understanding of church and Christianity to better embrace its vastness and diversity?

Learn how to make someone feel welcome when the visit your church. Embrace the fact that we are a huge spiritual family, with varied practices.

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Church Format and Size Matters

In general, we found smaller churches offered more opportunity to make connections. We also discovered that most liturgical churches weren’t very friendly.

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Consider these two discussion questions about church format and size: 

1. Churches have characteristics that often relate to their size. 

How can you tap the strengths of your church’s size and counter its weaknesses to better connect with others?

2. Regarding church format, the format of a church’s service and the practices of members also impact the likelihood of embracing visitors. 

Given your church’s characteristics in these areas, what changes should you embrace to better welcome guests?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Greeting Well at Church or Not at All

Too often one person made the difference between us feeling welcomed or ignored, forming our perceptions of the church. Greeting well occurs at three times: before, during, and after the service.

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Consider these two discussion questions:

1. The pre-service greeting forms a first impression, while a post-service greeting provides the impression people leave with. 

How can you better engage with visitors before and after your service?

2. With interaction during the service it’s critical to address people you don’t know. Then introduce them to your friends. 

How can you interact with visitors more effectively during the service to help them feel welcomed?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Visiting Churches Is Lot Like Dating

Visiting churches seems a lot like dating. It’s like dating churches.

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Consider these two discussion questions:

1. Church websites and social media pages are like a dating profile, with the best photos—sometimes out-of-date or misleading—and featuring positive traits while ignoring flaws. 

What changes should you make online and in printed materials to present an accurate representation of your church?

2. If visiting a church is like dating, joining a church might correspond to marriage. When you join a church, you commit and stop seeing other churches. 

What can you do to help first-timers return, form meaningful connections, and commit to your faith community?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Reflection Questions on 52 Churches

Our journey of visiting fifty-two churches is over, though the memories will last forever. Here are some of my church reflections from this year-long adventure.

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Consider these two discussion questions about our journey of visiting churches:

1. I hope the questions have spurred a lot of great ideas. But without action, great ideas amount to nothing. 

What are the top three things you want to start doing differently?

2. In visiting churches, one person (and it was seldom the minister) often made the difference between us feeling accepted and rejected. This is one of my key church reflections.

How can you make a difference to the people who visit your church? In addition to changes you want to make in your own interactions with visitors, how can you encourage others to follow your example?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Key Questions from Churches 45 through 53

To wrap up our adventure, we picked churches to provide the most varied experiences. For this phase my thoughts center on church size, coupled with my desire for community with other believers.

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

We’ve completed the final phase of our adventure. Even though most of these churches in this group are medium to large in size, consider these two discussion questions that address smaller churches: 

1. Community is easier at smaller churches, yet I don’t go to one. Curious. 

Regardless of the size of your church, how can you better connect people in community?

2. Smaller churches are usually older congregations. They often have traditional services, don’t embrace newer methods, and are mostly composed of aging parishioners. I’m not against older people, but I am against complacency. 

How can you guard against complacency?

[See the prior set of questions, the prior post, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Home for Holy Week

It’s Easter and we’re returning home to our church, the people we love and miss. This marks our first Sunday here since last Easter. It’s great to be back for Holy Week.

The 52 Churches Workbook, by Peter DeHaan

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #53:

1. There’s nothing special about the building, except that it’s 150 years old. Even with many enhancements, a dated look pervades. 

What updates does your church need so that it doesn’t feel dated?

2. The pastor welcomes everyone, telling visitors what the regulars already know: there’s no plan for the service, only a general intent. Its length is unknown. It will end when it ends. 

How should you better depend on the Holy Spirit to guide your church service?

3. The worship team launches into song, with worship at its passionate finest, full of joy and abounding in celebration. People on stage jump and dance, with more movement in the congregation than I’ve seen in a long time. 

What does God think about your worship? How can you worship him better?

4. They baptize several people. For many churches, baptism is a somber affair, conducted with reserved formality. Not so here. It’s a celebration of unabashed enthusiasm, with the congregation cheering each baptism. 

How can you move baptism from a religious rite to the spiritual rebirth that it represents?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.