How to Walk into Church by Tony Payne (Book Review)

Kevin Halloran

Content Specialist, United States
January 26, 2021

How do you walk into church?

This question doesn’t seek to address your walking style, how many kids’ noses you are wiping as you cross your church’s threshold, or how you have on your “Sunday best.”

What author Tony Payne is getting at in his brief 64-page book How to Walk into Church are core issues like “What is church?” and “What is my place in it?” (10). Our answers to these two questions form a mindset that will govern all of our conversations and activities in church; from greeting the greeter—to choosing a pew—to conversations scattered throughout your time on Sunday morning—to what we do before and after attending a church service.

One of the lies Payne seeks to shatter in this short and accessible book is that ministry is for paid church staff and not the everyday attender. This book is a practical guide to how every church attender can minister on Sunday mornings (or whenever their church gathers). Chapters include what church is, our role in church, the before, during, and after of church attendance, and how church doesn’t ever “end” (among other chapters).

As is so often the case, Tony Payne makes his vision painfully easy to implement by sharing practical tips we can all put into practice. Here are a few examples:

  • Payne recommends to pray about where to sit as you walk into church, which shows we are “trusting that what we do at church really matters; that God has something important for us to do—in particular, someone he wants us to sit next to, talk with, listen to, pray for and encourage.” (13)
  • When you meet a new person, look for them in future weeks and seek to reconnect and help them get plugged in. (49)
  • After church, encourage those around you with the Biblical truth presented earlier that day. (See Colossians 3:16) (52-53)
  • Before you enter church, pray that God would use you to encourage people that day, and pray throughout your day for opportunities. (53)
  • Be a good host to newcomers by listening to their story, introducing them around, or inviting them to a meal. (55)

Payne clearly and succinctly lays out a biblical vision of church that has personal growth in Christ and disciple making at the forefront. This book takes the mindshift presented in The Trellis and the Vine and boils it down specifically for church goers.

You can use this book in a variety of ways. First of all, every church-goer would benefit reading it for reasons stated above. Because of that, many pastors will find it helpful as they seek to train up leaders who can minister by prayerfully speaking the Word of God to others on Sunday morning and throughout the week, especially if they have a ministry team looking to care for people and welcome new attendees. Small groups will find this a fruitful discussion starter to encourage members toward a greater vision of their individual parts in “every member ministry.”  This is also a valuable book for pastors to give to new members.

After readers get a greater sense of what church is and their place in it by reading How to Walk into Church, I imagine that many will never walk into church the same way again.

Buy How to Walk into Church on Amazon or through Matthias Media’s website.

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