Beyond the First Visit is a quick read (less than 200 pages) about how to better connect people in your church. It includes a lot of practical examples that seem to be just “common sense”, but yet they are typically overlooked in a church. This book does help you to effectively look at your church through the eyes of a guest. I liked having more than just theory in this book, since it had a lot of examples of what churches are doing to connect and assimilate their guests. I did think that many of the examples were out of style or out of date for a book that is fairly new and that was published in 2006. Many examples seemed to come out of what I would term to be “institutionalized churches” It’s hard for us as a portable church to do many of the typical programs that churches do because of a lack of a facility throughout the week. We must rely on people’s homes more. This book did have a section on The Emergent Church and how to connect younger adults, but it seemed to just focus on the “organic” branch of the emergent church and not talk about many of the newer missional churches. Overall, it was good, but it’s not a book that I would highly recommend for our church.
Jenni and the kids got me this book, Raising Dad, for Father’s Day. It was an encouraging book to read with a really neat format. The book was written by a father/son team of Thom Ranier and Art Ranier. I have read several of Thom’s books and I have enjoyed his approach to research on the church. The interesting part of this book was how each chapter was written. Art, who is the grown son, wrote the first part of each chapter, reflecting on his childhood and what he learned from his dad. It was very positive and you could tell that he learned a lot from his dad. Then in the second half of the chapter, Thom would write about the same experiences from his perspective as the father. It was really interesting to see the difference in perspectives. Art shared how many things his father did right, Thom shared how many times he messed up as a father. But through it all you see a picture of love and respect in their family. It’s encouraging to see that even though we as parents do make plenty of mistakes, that our kids can see through that and still know that we love them. This book was more about their family and what they experienced, although there are many principles about parenthood explained. Overall, this was a good and encouraging read for me. As the father of 3 little ones, I need all the parenting help I can get.