If you follow any religious news stories you already know that lots of churches are throwing their support into a program which has been named "National Back to Church Sunday." I have read the letters of intent from several churches and articles from others which are using the date of September 15 for their congregations to join in an effort to get previous church goers to reactivate their attendance at a local church.
Some of this is aligned with the back to school season, as some folks have utilized their summer time for vacations, camps, summer sports, or other activities that put participation in church on the back burner. Deeper intent and meaning is seen in those who are reaching out to those who have neglected church things all together for years.
In an article this week by ChurchLeaders.com, there are a couple of examples given to help us get the idea of this thrust of outreach to bring people back to church. Here are those examples:
A group in McKinney, Texas is hosting a multi-church, multi-denominational outreach event for Back to Church Sunday in a local park, welcoming everyone in the city looking for a church home. The informal picnic is designed to allow attendees to mingle with others, enjoy special speakers and live music and connect with churches that suit their needs. Event co-chair Rolanda Greer told the local area that she wants the people of McKinney to know that they "care not only about their physical well-being and their mental well-being, but we also care about their spiritual well-being."
"In Champaign County in Illinois, nearly 20 churches are joining forces to promote Back to Church Sunday in the city of Urbana. Mike Stewart, pastor of Urbana First Christian Church, and Jim Lillibridge, pastor of Urbana United Methodist, agreed that the event is not merely an attendance drive, but is intended to show the community that different congregations can work together to promote the common goal of the Christian church: spreading the gospel of Jesus."
I commend these groups for their effort, their togetherness, and above all their willingness to once again reach out for those who, for whatever reason, have left the church. The part that really started me to thinking is when I wondered about the methods, plans, or people from my church that might be involved in such an outreach, and why haven't we been openly active in a program like this before now?
My point is this....most churches do not have a plan or intentions in place to minister to those people who are suddenly missing from our fellowship. We assume it's the preacher's job to keep up with all that, or perhaps elders should be the only ones involved since they are shepherds of the flock. I am saying the National Back to Church campaign on September 15 is something in which we can participate, or, if we so choose, we can and should individually reach out to people who need to be led back to the church family and to the Lord.