Note: at this time, I am redoing a number of things on this site and because of that am making all the materials below that are usually only for ECC MEMBERS, free to everyone.
Back-to-Church Sunday (Sept. 17, 2017) and A Season of Invitation can provide extraordinary opportunities for you to grow your church in numbers and your people as disciples. Following is an overview of the background for both and links to downloadable communications that will make these times of effective outreach and growth at your church.
Background of the events
Back to Church Sunday was started in 2010 (according to an Outreach.org article) in response to a 2008 LifeWay Research study that found 63 percent of Americans would be open to a friend or neighbor inviting them to church, and 67 percent to a family member.
But the study went on to say that despite people’s openness to being invited, only 2 percent of Christians invite a non-churchgoer in a given year.
Back to Church Sunday resulted as a way to change that. And it has grown to over 28,000 churches in America participating in America plus participation of 1,500 international churches.
A great challenge and ideas from the UK
The United Kingdom has done an incredible job of not only implementing this idea, but expanding it. Several years ago when I started researching Back to Church, I came across this video and it remains one of my favorites. It is quiet and gentle and involves real people. I realize it is a personal preference, but the hype and high pressure outreach tactics of some pushed me away from doing anything about this for ECC, but after I saw this video, I got motivated and have been extremely excited about what can happen with churches.
One note prior to your watching the video—I am very inspired by the idea of a Season of Invitation. I implemented that idea in the files I'm sharing later in this article.
A few more motivational quotes from the UK on Back to Church Sunday:
Back to Church Sunday is based on the simplest and shortest step in evangelism - that we should invite someone we already know to something we love; invite our friend to our church.
“I have wanted to come back for some time and this just gave me the nudge I needed.”
Success isn’t a percentage, a number, or a line on a graph. Success is one person inviting one person. From the Diocese of Norwich of the Church of England
. . . . .
The idea is for individuals in the pews to invite their friends with a simple question “Would you like to come to church with me and afterwards why don’t we have sunday lunch together?” Research shows that there are 3 million people who would come back to church if they were invited by a friend. The key to success, say the organisers, is the personal invitation and attention. http://www.mjhassociates.org.uk
Further information can be found at www.backtochurch.co.uk
What can we do to take part in Back to Church Sunday?
First of all, pray.
This is not a gratuitous spiritual given. We must sincerely seek the Lord’s wisdom in this because though there are many ways, approaches, events we can use to reach our communities, only the Lord knows what is best for the people God has called you to reach in your community.
Second, think about a locally unique response
As an example of local response, to kick off a season of inviting, below are two examples from previous years:
Last year was the second time St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Prescott, Ariz., hosted Back to Church Sunday. At an annual pre-Labor Day festival, St. George set up a popular food booth, featuring gyros and other Greek-style edibles, and used the face time to invite guests to their upcoming event.
I love this because it is unique and meaningful to the community (and I would have loved the food!).
Think about it if your community or church has a unique heritage like this and make the most of it to share with the community and kick off a season of invitation.
Third, make involvement a teaching opportunity for outreach
Here is one of the “12 Tips to becoming an inviting church” from an Anglican Church in Edmonton, Canada:
Pick your friend up. Church can begin the moment you knock on their door and ask if they’re ready to go. No need for anyone to nervously wait at the church.
You need to encourage your people to invite from the pulpit in communications and social media, but more than that, you need to create materials they can use to invite their friends.
Make your own communications
The ones below were created by Effective Church Communications and were inspired by the Season of Invitation. They are very simple and clear.
Here is what they look like--below are all the postcard images. However all the designs are in both the INVITATION and POSTCARD formats. In addition to the ones shown are a number of postcards designed to be printed in 2-colors for RISO Digital Duplicator Printing.
The invitations are 2 to a page and the postcards are 4 to a page that you could print out and either use as invitations to hand out to people or that you could mail out, again with your personalized information on the back.
Below this article, ready to print PDFs, MS Publisher Templates you can modify, and images to advertise them to your congregation are available in ZIP FILES. During this transition time for this website and ministry, I'm making all the materials, that are usually for Effective Church Communications Members only available to everyone.
No matter what you use or don't at this season or anytime, what is most important is that you invite your friends to church.
For the ZIP FILES that contain the ready-to-print PDFs, and the editable MS Publisher files, CLICK on the links below. Save the file to your desktop and click to open.