The organizers of a major outreach initiative are hoping churches will work across denominational lines to draw whole communities back to church.
Invites will be going out to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers in the days and weeks running up to National Back to Church Sunday on September 18.
The event is the single largest community outreach in the nation, with at least 10,000 churches expected to participate this year. Eric Abel, vice president of marketing for Outreach, Inc., said the goal was to have a citywide coordinator lead the movement in every community in America.
Organizers have put together a city coordinator guide and are making a National Back to Church specialist available to give direction and support to local churches.
Outreach is offering city coordinators special custom invitations showing participating churches in any area, and has produced resources to support special services on September 18.
Philip Nation, ministry development director of LifeWay Research and spokesperson for the nationwide initiative, said citywide initiatives would multiply the event’s effectiveness.
“Local churches are encouraged to partner with one another to increase the scope of their reach,” he said. “We support these grassroots movements and anticipate the number of personal invitations will skyrocket.”
Some 2.6 million people have been invited back to church since the initiative launched in the U.S. three years ago.
The 3,800 churches that participated last year reported an average 26 percent increase in weekly attendance following the event.
A recent survey of 15,000 adults in the U.S. found that 67 percent of Americans would attend a church service if they received a personal invitation from a family member, while 63 percent said they would go if invited by a friend or neighbor.
"We continue to see that the personal touch is the most effective means of outreach for churches," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. "Good news is best delivered by good messengers."