52 Churches Boxset: Discover How to Make Church Matter (ebook)

52 Churches Boxset: Discover How to Make Church Matter (ebook)

Visit 52 churches in a year...and more.

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Visit fifty-two churches in a year? No way!

Peter DeHaan and his wife did just that. They spent a year visiting a different Christian church every Sunday: Protestant mainline, evangelical, and charismatic; Roman Catholic too.

He visited a congregation just like yours. Count on it.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cringe. You’ll cry.

Church-reform proponent Peter DeHaan is a strong advocate of forming meaningful Christian community. And he shares his discerning journey of discovery to inspire ministers, members, and attendees to build personal connections that matter.

This isn’t a church-shopping romp or a mean-spirited critique. Peter doesn’t rip at today’s church. Instead he offers a gift of encouragement, hope, and insight to all of Jesus’s followers. Plus, he shares astute observations and makes spot-on suggestions.

Then build on the narrative of 52 Churches with the thought-provoking follow up: The 52 Churches Workbook. In it, consider 200 challenging questions to grow your faith. Ideal for group discussion or individual introspection.

But that’s not all. Read more church encounters in More Than 52 Churches. Followed by The More Than 52 Churches Workbook. More experiences and more reflective considerations.

Read the 52 Churches Boxset for education, read it for entertainment, and read it for the vision gained only from visiting a diverse array of churches.

These books are ideal for ministry leaders, members, and spiritual seekers.

Get your copy of the 52 Churches Boxset to begin your own exploration of religious practices!


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Visiting Churches Series, books 1, 2, and their workbooks

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Visiting 52 churches in a year:

To realize the most from our sojourn, we form a plan. We’ll visit those churches nearest our home first, picking them in order of driving distance. Toward the end of our journey, we’ll choose other churches from the remaining list, visiting those most different from our norm. Making the list is the easy part.

Next, we set some guidelines. Each week, we’ll check their website, hoping to learn about them before our visit so we can more fully embrace our time there. Still, knowing that websites are sometimes out-of-date, we’ll email or call to verify service times. (Candy faithfully handled this every week for the entire year.) If there are multiple meetings, we’ll go to the later one, since second services, which usually have a higher attendance, possess more energy, and lack time constraints.

We’ll dress casually, as we normally do, for church. For me this means a T-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes in the summer and a casual shirt, jeans, and boots in the winter. This is practical because my wardrobe best allows it. It will also help because casual attire is what a non-churched visitor would likely wear. Though I don’t want to come off as an unchurched outsider, I’ll learn more if they don’t view me as a conformed insider.

We agree to go along with any visitor rituals, but we’ll do nothing to imply we might come back or consider joining their community. If they want to give us literature or welcome gifts, we’ll graciously accept them. When asked why we’re visiting, we’ll be honest, saying we’re seeking to expand our understanding of worshiping God by visiting area churches—but we aren’t looking to join one.

Also, we’ll avoid showing up at the last minute, instead aiming to arrive ten minutes early. This will allow for possible pre-church interaction. Afterward, we’ll look for opportunities to talk with people and will stay for any after-church activities—except Sunday school.

This is because the original purpose of Sunday school was to teach poor children how to read. By the time public schools took over this task, Sunday school had become an institution and continued as an expected requirement. At most churches Sunday school is now little more than an obligatory expectation, where frustrated faculty seek to fill time that antsy children strive to avoid. Too many Sunday school programs bore their students and effectively teach kids that faith is boring.

However, aside from Sunday school, as we visit churches, we’ll do our best to be open and approachable, interacting with others any way we can.
Perhaps most important, we’ll participate in their service to the degree we feel comfortable, while being careful not to push their boundaries. For more exuberant expressions of worship this means we’ll have the freedom, but not the obligation, to follow their lead. For more reserved gatherings, we won’t do anything to alarm them with our behavior. I’ll blog about our visits, but I won’t keep the dispassionate distance of a reporter. I’ll engage in the service and with their community.

Throughout our adventure, I will continue to participate in a twice-a-month, midweek gathering at our home church. It is a nurturing faith community where we encourage and challenge each other. This will serve as my spiritual base during our sojourn and help keep me connected. I’ll also listen to our church’s sermon podcasts and attend elder meetings.

As friends pray for our journey, one asks that we make a positive impact on each church we visit. This surprises me. I strive to make a difference wherever I go, but I never considered it for 52 Churches. I assumed we would receive, but I never considered how we might give. With an expanded perspective, our adventure becomes doubly exciting.

Talk is safe. Action is risky. It’s easy to consider a bold move in the indefinite future. But I need to pick a date, or this will never be anything more than an intriguing idea that never happens.

It’s the season of Lent, and our church is marching toward Easter. What if we start our journey after that? I share the timing with my wife. I expect resistance—or perhaps, I hope for some—providing an excuse for delay. But she nods her agreement. My pastor and fellow elders also affirm the timing. Some are envious.

Candy and I celebrate Jesus’s resurrection with our home church. Then we slip away to begin our sojourn the following Sunday.

I expect this to be an amazing adventure, and I invite you to journey with us.

Meet Author Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, PhD, often makes religious people squirm, but spiritual seekers cheer. He’s not trying to be provocative, but he seeks truth, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. He yearns for Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Peter earned his doctorate, awarded with high distinction, from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. He lives with his wife in beautiful Southwest Michigan and wrangles crossword puzzles in his spare time.

Learn more about Peter