Augsburg Fortress

Wide Welcome: How the Unsettling Presence of Newcomers Can Save the Church

Wide Welcome: How the Unsettling Presence of Newcomers Can Save the Church

While most churches offer 'new member classes' and genuinely seek to welcome visitors, too often the end result is a rush to assimilate the newcomer into formal membership and all of the invitations to participation in committees, choirs, or fellowship groups that go along with it.
In Wide Welcome, Jessicah Krey Duckworth presents the stark differences between the established congregation, which cares for current members and congregational identity, and the disestablished one, intentionally equipped to facilitate the encounter between new and established members. By intentionally extending the time of newcomer inquiry and allowing their questions, insights, and experiences to reverberate through the entire congregation both they and the church are changed. Wide Welcome does far more than point out the faults and weaknesses in current practice. Duckworth intentionally lays out possible designs for newcomer welcome that are local and particular.
At a time when only nine percent of North American Mainline congregations actively and intentionally facilitate newcomer faith formation, Wide Welcome is an essential and timely book.
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800699390
  • eBook ISBN 9781451426250
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 144
  • Publication Date June 1, 2013


"The best business leaders ask new employees to write down all the disconnections between mission and action that they see during their first three months because they will see what no one else does; after that, they are blind to them. With this theology-soaked, church-loving book, Duckworth opens up this power of the newcomer, with their eyes of love for God, to help make congregations whole. This is a fresh and compelling argument, coming just in time."
—Melissa Wiginton
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
"While 'assimilation' of newcomers fit an earlier established church context, new ways of thinking and acting are required in today's culture. Out of careful congregational research and a rich theological foundation, the author offers an exciting option for making and growing disciples of newcomers and long-time members together."
—Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
Wesley Theological Seminary
"A timely resource for those leaders who are no longer satisfied with a church that only attends to insiders, or as Duckworth refers to them, oldcomers. With a helpful combination of scholarly research, theological acumen, and congregational experience Duckworth shows both why the health of a congregation resides in how wide a welcome it offers newcomers and how it might go about providing such a wide welcome. She presents an educational process and practical tools for making disciples in the church today; a process that involves both oldcomers and newcomers learning and participating together."
—Paul Lutz
Senior Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church
Lansdale, Pennsylvania