(Photo: Back to Church (c) 2012)
Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel has backed the annual National Back to Church Sunday event, scheduled for Sept. 15, where over 18,000 churches have signed up for the initiative that aims at inviting as many non-religious people to church as possible.
"Seven out of 10 unchurched people would visit a church if a friend invited them. What are we waiting for?" said Strobel, best-selling author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith.
"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!"
A press release notes that as many as two million Americans are expected to reach out to non-religious friends on Sept. 15 and ask them to come to church and experience what it's like. Currently, 18,311 churches are signed up for the free event, which stretches coast to coast, while the Facebook page of the initiative is also active with over 60,000 likes.
"Right now is a perfect time to sign up and get your church engaged in this energy-filled project," said Scott Evans, founder and CEO of Outreach, Inc., one of the founders of the campaign.
"Make your decision and get your team on board – there are many resources available, many by download you could have today. It's a great way to kickstart your own fall programming and bless your community."
"Remember, although most people in America have been to church, only about 20 percent attend regularly," Evans added. "Yet research shows most people would try it if someone just invited them."
National Back to Church Sunday said that Christians need to do better in the area of inviting others to come to church – the initiative estimates that only two percent of church members have invited someone to church in the past year. The campaign's website provides tools and advice on how people can "push past their discomfort" and reach out to the unchurched.
Last year, National Back to Church Sunday received the backing of professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, who has credited her faith in God for surviving a shark attack when she was 13 that left her without one arm, a story which was made into the feature film "Soul Surfer."
"Growing up I was blessed to be part of a great church," Hamilton said. "This is where I met many friends who have encouraged me in my life to live strong for Christ."
Churches willing to sign-up for National Back to Church Sunday can find further information and resources on the campaign's website.