I have given a copy of this book to Lay Leaders in the church to read and review. They have been impacted by it and we have begun a program in the church modeled after the book and fashioned for our particular small congregation. A Lay Leader in charge has developed a training program for committed team members of the "Welcome Wagon." As a pastor I am excited because the book puts practical steps within reach that will help us keep guests who come to church, especially from our mailings. Our congregation is mostly blue collar and is under 100 in attendance but this has potential for all shapes and sizes as it impacts the sociological perspectives of Laypeople regarding their church. It is like having a consultant talk to you for the price of a book. Blessings!
It's been great for leading a discussion with our hospitality committee. Not everything in the book will be applicable, feasible or aligned with your vision, but it does force you to take a serious look at how welcoming your church actually is.
I would definitely recommend Beyond the First Visit to those looking to systematically think through their process of welcoming & inviting new comers into your church community.
GOOD- It is comprehensive in scope, full of helpful ideas and information, and forces you to ask very helpful questions in a systematic fashion. It will fill your head with ideas and help you see how one set of ideas leads to another.
NEEDS WORK- Internet, email, SMS, Facebook- all these sorts of new technologies are largely untapped in McIntosh's practical examples. If you are familiar with these, McIntosh's framework will still likely give you many good ideas that you can adapt to these technologies. It is also not as aware as we need to be of not only the "Emergent Church", but even more of the general mindset of postmodern adults and how their attitudes would lead you to modify some of what McIntosh presents.
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS- Be aware of your theological convictions and framework - e.g. on evangelism, nature of man, the Sovereignty of God, nature of the church, etc. - before you get too far into this book. This is not a theological work; it is a practical one. But all practice is controlled by theology, and if you are not thoughtful in reading this book, you can end up with a very man-centered, self-reliant approach to "assimilation" and church growth.
The book, Beyond the First Visit was good reading and with such clarity. It is good for us as a young congregation to prepare ourselves not only in a spirit-filled way, but professionally as well. We desire to be a people of excellence, and these guidelines has established a solid method whereby we can put into practice. We are excited to see the result of what God is going to do on our behalf.
This book really makes you think about what you and/or are not doing at your church. We go through "church" without really thinking about guests/visitors. We often treat people like visitors - thanks for coming, come again if you want, but you're not really part of the "family". We should treat them like guests - we want them and want them to come back and most importantly, we want them to become part of the family.
The book makes you look at your church with new lenses.