The story we tell ourselves…a person has a seminal experience in their life when they decide they need to begin or renew their spiritual journey by joining a Christian church. Since there are about 300,000 churches in the United States, they have lots of choices. They attend a few and pick out the one that seems the friendliest. They join. Their attendance at worship strengthens their experience of God. They begin to set aside time in their daily life for spiritual practice. They find that the more they get involved in the church, the more they are growing spiritually. Their participation in the church carries over into other aspects of their lives, including their work life, which they begin to see as an extension of their Christian ministry. As time goes on they become even more impressed by the dedication of the people of the church in general and of the leaders in particular. As the years pass—twenty, thirty, forty years—they find peace in knowing that this is the church where they will finish their life’s journey in the company of other, longtime members.
It all makes a neat package. There is only one problem.
Virtually none of it is true.
In this groundbreaking book, Front Door Back Door, Russ Crabtree explores some of the most basic assumptions that leaders make regarding the churches they serve and what happens in the lives of members who join, stay, and leave. It’s not just another book about losses; it offers insight and suggestions for creating learning congregations and developmental trajectories for their members.
In Front Door Back Door you will learn…
- The characteristics of churches people tend to join and why there are so few of them.
- The three things that churches tend to do well in developing the people who join them whether conservative, progressive, or somewhere in between.
- The areas where people tend to coast without much growth even after years attending a typical church.
- The areas where people tend to experience deterioration over time; the longer they stay in a typical church, the less positive they feel.
On the whole, churches are not learning. Churches with more seasoned members tend to fare no better than churches with more “rookies” in attendance in dealing with conflict, achieving their mission, or engaging their members.
The author proposes a core competency model that is aligned with a church’s particular mission so that both members and congregations can be more fruitful and, in the words of Jesus, bear fruit that abides.