(Photo: National Back to Church Sunday)
An estimated 3 million people attended a National Back to Church Sunday event this past weekend, which organizers believe is the highest number the movement has ever recorded.
"The campaign reinvigorated and encouraged our members to invite people to church," First Baptist Penn Hills, Pa., shared in a post-event survey.
"It was a great success," added Auburn Baptist Church, Christiansburg, Va. "Our church was full, our classes were full of children and our parking lot was overflowing."
The movement, aimed at encouraging church members to invite their friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to attend a special worship service, said that a total of 21,491 churches from all 50 states participated in the event this year, which is an increase of more than 63 percent from 2012.
What is more, the participating churches reported an average 31 percent increase in attendance, and 35 percent of the churches said that they had new visitors who had vowed to follow Christ or rededicate their lives.
"This campaign generated a spark and forced our congregation to reach out in a way that I have not seen in many years. This is a wonderful campaign," added Southern Heights Christian Church, Anderson, Ind.
Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel had backed this year's event, noting that seven out of 10 unchurched people have indicated that they would visit a church if a friend invited them.
"The church offers hope, grace, truth, joy and the message of eternal life – all of which we want our friends to experience. Let's take a risk and prayerfully offer an invitation," Strobel encouraged.
Highlighting the success of the event, 96 percent of responding churches said that they would participate in Back to Church Sunday again, the press release noted. Scott Evans, founder and CEO of Outreach Inc., told The Christian Post last week that the movement is aimed at breaking down denominational barriers.
"It's just a great reminder that you're not just coming to a building filled with pews," said Evans. "You are coming to a revolution 2,000 years in the making that has changed the world and is continuing to change the world, and it's made up with people like you and me."
Next year's event date has already been set for Sunday, Sept. 21, and organizers are already planning how to make it even bigger and more successful than this year.
"Don't let another Back To Church Sunday pass you by," concluded Steep Falls Baptist Church, Steep Falls, Maine. "It is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the unchurched and make them feel loved and accepted."