Drawing whole communities into church—this is the goal of many church leaders for National Back To Church Sunday, Sept. 18. In preparation, citywide coordinators will be working to get churches across denominational lines to join together to invite family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to the special Sunday.
This year, National Back To Church Sunday, the single largest community outreach in the nation, is expected to draw the participation of more than 10,000 churches. There are approximately 340,000 churches and about 155 million regular churchgoers across the country.
“The desired goal of National Back To Church citywide initiatives is that a citywide coordinator leads the movement in every community in America,” said Eric Abel, vice president of marketing for Outreach, Inc., a Southern California-based marketing company supporting the event. More than 120 church leaders already have expressed interest in becoming citywide coordinators. (outr.ch/cityinitatives)
“This year, National Back To Church Sunday citywide initiatives are multiplying the event’s effectiveness,” said Philip Nation, ministry development director of LifeWay Research and spokesperson of the nationwide initiative. “Local churches are encouraged to partner with one another to increase the scope of their reach. We support these grassroots movements and anticipate the number of personal invitations will skyrocket.”
To support the event, a citywide coordinator guide and a National Back To Church specialist are available to give direction and support to local churches. Outreach offers city coordinators special custom invitations showing participating churches in any area.
A new online assessment tool for churches to develop their individual strategies is now available, as well. Churches may take the questionnaire (outr.ch/assessment) and download free resources that specifically fit their needs. Outreach also offers a church kit that includes a campaign planning guide, suggested sermons, graphics and widgets for church websites or social media, promotional materials and much more (BackToChurch.com/store).
National Back To Church Sunday was launched three years ago in response to a survey of 15,000 adults in the United States. Results showed a personal invitation from a family member would prompt 67 percent of Americans to visit a church, and 63 percent said an invitation from a friend or neighbor would cause them to attend a service.
“We continue to see that the personal touch is the most effective means of outreach for churches,” said Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research. “Good news is best delivered by good messengers.”
Since 2009, National Back To Church Sunday has inspired churchgoers to invite more than 2.6 million family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers to their churches. Last year, 3,800 churches participated and reported an average 26 percent increase in weekly attendance.