More Than 1 Million Invitations Anticipated for National 'Back To Church Sunday,' Set for Sept. 12
May 18, 2010
VISTA, Calif., (christiansunite.com) -- Following the huge turnout in churches across America last year for national "Back To Church Sunday," expectations are even higher for the 2010 event, set for Sept. 12.
National "Back To Church Sunday" (backtochurch.com ) is a movement that seeks to reach the "un-churched" and "de-churched" - people who once attended church, but don't any more - and invite them to return for a special Sunday. During the first event last year, hundreds of churches across the country participated, with members inviting more than 700,000 of their friends and family. According to a survey of participants by Outreach, Inc., a Southern California church marketing company, churches that took part saw a 19 percent average increase in their weekend attendance.
"Our 'Back To Church Sunday' worship service turned out to be our most attended worship service of the year, far surpassing our large Christmas and Easter services," said the Rev. Joseph Pridgen, pastor Sweet Rest Church of Christ of Pearl, Miss. "God moved on the hearts of our members to really catch the simple and age-old concept, and to commit time praying for the ones they would invite.
"Since September, our attendance is over 20 percent higher than this period last year," Pridgen said. "God worked in us as we prayed for our invitees and God prepared them as they received our invitation cards, door-hangers and word-of-mouth invitations. We are believing God for much more in September 2010."
According to a study of church attendance, "The American Church in Crisis," most Americans say they believe in God, and many say that they regularly attend worship services. But the survey found only about 20 percent of Americans actually show up in church on any given Sunday.
Most of those who leave the church haven't lost their faith in God. Some moved or had a change in life circumstances. Others had a falling out with their former church and simply drifted away. Most often, life became too busy. The survey found they simply fell out of the habit of churchgoing.
That means they are open to returning to church.
However, Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., notes that while 82 percent of the unchurched are somewhat likely to attend church if invited, only 2 percent of church members invite an unchurched person to church.
As part of the "Back To Church Sunday" campaign, Outreach provides churches with resources that will help them plan and implement a successful event, including empowering their members with tools that can be used to invite their friends and neighbors.
Churches can get a "Back To Church Sunday" campaign kit, which includes a planning guide; booklets; resource CD with sermons, graphics and PowerPoint templates; promotional video and other outreach materials and tools.
But inviting newcomers is only part of the campaign. The other part is getting the church ready for them to show up. Churches are asked to plan for the program and to make sure their buildings are visitor friendly. They're also encouraged to pay attention to details that are important to visitors who haven't been to a church in a long time, or ever, as they will notice everything.
Outreach has assembled several other tools to help churches prepare for visitors. Along with the campaign planning kit, "Back To Church Sunday" has an interactive Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/backtochurch) and a new blog ( backtochurch.com/blog), and a roster of participating churches on the Back to Church website at backtochurch.com/roster.
"Last year's 'Back To Church Sunday' campaign was a big success, as churches reported hundreds of people coming back to rediscover their faith," said Eric Abel, vice president of marketing for Outreach. "We believe the 2010 event will bring even more people back to churches across America."
Outreach, Inc. is the largest provider of outreach products and services in North America, including "Outreach" magazine, the most influential pastors' magazine in the world. The company was launched with the mission of empowering Christian churches to reach their communities for Jesus Christ. Outreach, Inc. endeavors to create a network of churches and ministries working together to invite and connect every person in America to a Bible-believing church and ultimately into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.