The Evangelism Office of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions has a strategy that we use with churches to help them have a comprehensive approach to reaching people. The A.L.O.N.E. strategy begins with an emphasis on assimilation just like Larry Osborne in Sticky Church.
The book points out that if the back door of a church is left wide open, then it doesn’t matter how many people are coaxed to come in the front door or, for that matter, the side door.
I agree with the author that most churches give the back door scant attention. The book accurately points out that we have become so focused on reaching people that we have forgotten the importance of keeping people.
The author builds the book around his story as pastor of the North Coast Church in San Diego, Calif.
Three big changes took place at North Coast when the emphasis began on “closing the back door.” First, the way he related to his lay leadership team changed. The second was in the way he taught and led the congregation. The third change involved launching a small group ministry focused primarily on building relationships rather than growing the church. The author says the back door slammed shut and more people than ever began coming through the front door.
A great deal of emphasis in the book is placed on small groups. In fact, the author says that groups changed everything. There is a significant discussion of “sermon-based small groups.” While our author is big on small groups, he boldly says the Seoul, South Korea, model of the Full Gospel Central Church, pastored by David Yonggi Cho, does not work in this country.
He points to three problems with the Cho model: a radically different view of Christianity, a radically different view of authority and a radically different society.
The eight appendixes are great helps for anyone serious about small groups and their structure. This is a must read for any pastor who is serious about closing the back door and especially any pastor who wants to get serious about small groups to accomplish that task.
State Missionary Sammy Gilbreath serves as director of the Office of Evangelism. He may be contacted at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 320, or (334) 613-2320, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHURCH REVITALIZATION TESTIMONY:
Mike Foreman, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Level Plains, Enterprise: Our church has benefited from the investment that the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions has made through church revitalization. As a result, our Wednesday night program has more than doubled and our Sunday School attendance has increased. We have also been revitalized, encouraged and renewed in our vision to finish our seven-year building project of our Family Life Center so that we can expand our ministry to reach more people in our community.