For parents to truly dedicate their children to God, they need a church home. A place where other Christians will help them teach their kids about God. A church home where parents can be encouraged, learn what God expects from them and where they can get godly parenting advice.
So I was interested when offered the chance to review the book, The Come Back Effect by Jason Young and Jonathan Malm. The premise of the book is that if churches become very intentional about how they treat visitors, the chances they will return are much better.
I don’t believe I have ever said this about any of the dozens of books I have reviewed before – this book is brilliantly disturbing. In fact, I cycled between being disturbed, admiring the absolute brilliance of some of the material and becoming disturbed again. This book was an emotional roller coaster for me.
First the original cause of being disturbed – and this one has nothing to do with the authors. The fact that our society and specifically the church has gone so far down hill as to even need this book is absolutely heart breaking. When I was younger, the families at my church didn’t live close to each other at all. Yet, I have so many memories of having people in our home and being in theirs. I remember long evenings singing, eating and laughing together as an entire church family. Hospitality was the norm, not the exception.
Now for the brilliant part. I’m not sure whether the authors are former Disney employees or have incredibly analytical minds, but they absolutely know how to run a tight, hospitable church. If their church were a business, they would be one where people came from around the world to try and copy their techniques. They literally have the visitor experience down to a science.
Which is why I ultimately finished the book very disturbed. I know it wasn’t their focus, but where was the concept of the Gospel/Jesus drawing people to learn more? I didn’t really get the feeling there was a attempt to really get to know people on a deep meaningful, spiritual level. Yes, I know this book is about a first visit, but mixed in were just some things that made me feel uncomfortable.
For example, the woman upset because someone felt so stressed about all of the rules, they wouldn’t open the door to let her see a family member be baptized. The idea that the volunteer felt that kind of pressure is unnerving enough, but what happened next left me with my mouth hanging open. To offer someone a Starbucks gift card because she had missed a family baptism and then to celebrate it as what? Good customer service? For a business, yes. For a church, I personally say, please no!
There were others mixed in with the brilliance from time to time. One I would have missed except that as a reviewer, I tend to look more carefully at those sections after the end of the book. The authors mentioned a member survey they do to “get to know their members” so they can better meet their expectations. They had a sample of the survey at the back of the book. It was one of the most intrusive surveys I have ever seen. Not to mention the fact that it was so very secular. I frankly don’t think anyone has the right to know some of that information in order to profile me.
In the end, if you want tips for making visitors have a smoother first experience, this book absolutely has some great tips – and lots of them. Please though, go much deeper both emotionally and spiritually than I felt this book did. The church is supposed to be a family and people should always feel like a welcomed and loved family member. People should get to know them because they genuinely love them. They should humbly serve them and meet their needs, have them in their homes, go the extra mile…because that is who they are in their core as Christians. Not because it is a strategy or they are afraid of being “fired” as volunteers.
This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.