Home Review of Heartbeat! How to Turn Passion into Ministry in Your Church

Review of Heartbeat! How to Turn Passion into Ministry in Your Church

Heartbeat! How to Turn Passion into Ministry in Your Church
by Charles Arn
Xulon Press, 2010

Two words summarize the purpose of Heartbeat: "incarnational evangelism." Don't let those words scare you, however. Immediately after mentioning the term, author Charles Arn promptly bids goodbye to it because "this book is a process for laypeople … who don't get all that jazzed with big theological terms." Arn keeps his promise. With pen dipped into common sense, he saturates the pages with helpful strategies, examples, and action steps to mobilize laity for ministry to nonmembers. There is good news for overworked clergy too. Arn's overall strategy includes developing a ministry coach (who is not the pastor!) to guide laity in ministry implementation.

The book divides into three organizing concepts: definition and discovery of side doors, starting a heartbeat ministry, and implementing a heartbeat ministry. Below is a synopsis of each.

Side Doors

Church-growth pundits have long spoken about the function of a church's front and back doors. There were pleas, "How can we attract people to our front-door activities such as worship, Sunday school, Bible study, VBS, men's, women's, or children's ministries?" There were warnings, "Clergy, you must close the proverbial backdoor people use to exit from active involvement in a local church." Arn presents a well-reasoned third option: side doors.

A side door is a church sponsored program, group, or activity that makes the welcome and involvement of non-members a priority. These side-door strategies provide two vital functions:

  1. They encourage lay members of the church to discover and turn their passions into effective ministry for Christ.
  2. They create new opportunities to meet and build relationships with nonmembers (often pre-Christian).

Starting a Heartbeat Ministry

Side doors represent one of the book's twin metaphors. Heartbeat Ministry represents the second. In this section, the wisdom that Arn has gained from his nearly three decades of study and application of church growth principles shines. His Heartbeat Ministry process helps transform a layperson's ministry dream into reality.

This section contains field-tested strategies that help laity in areas such as these:

  1. Discover your passion.
  2. Build a dream team.
  3. Plan your strategy.
  4. Assess and enlarge your ministry.

Implementing a Heartbeat Ministry

The third part of the book introduces the role of the Ministry Coach. This coach is like a "contractor" for building successful side doors. This coach is not the pastor and is not the one who leads the side-door ministries. The coach actively promotes the need to dream about new ministry, helps laity turn their ministry dreams into reality, and keeps the pastor and church leaders apprised of progress.

In summary, Heartbeat! offers churches a clear process that accomplishes the following:

  1. Helps laity discover their passion and involves these impassioned laity in new ministry.
  2. Provides clergy a tested, step-by-step blueprint for mobilizing laity for ministry with pre-Christians.
  3. Outlines the vital role of the Ministry Coach who guides the ministry implementation process.

A family of resources further supports this book:

If you are looking for a solid, well-conceived, evangelical approach to mobilizing laity for meaningful ministry, this is the book for you.

For more information, visit www.heartbeatministries.net.


About the author of Heartbbeat: Charles Arn is a leading contributor to the conversation on congregational outreach, health, and growth. He is Professor of Outreach and Ministry at the new Wesley Seminary in Marion, Indiana.