Here’s what I read about it…
Personal Invitations Expected to Bring Millions Back to Church
Research reported by Thom Rainer in “The Unchurched Next Door” shows 82 percent of the unchurched are at least “somewhat likely” to respond positively to an invitation to attend church. “Nothing can surpass the effect of the personal invitation,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a supporting partner of National Back to Church Sunday.
“National Back to Church Sunday is not a quick-fix or one-time solution. It is an opportunity for Christians to share ongoing grace and acceptance,” said Philip Nation, director of adult ministry publishing at LifeWay Research and spokesperson for National Back to Church Sunday. “Sept. 16 can be the portal for people to find their way not only back to church, but into to a loving, accepting church family where real relationships are built.”
As I read this, the words of Len Sweet came to mind: “The time for getting people to come to church is over; it is now time to get people to come to Christ.” (Faithquakes)
Now, I’m definitely not opposed to inviting people to return to church. It may be a helpful strategy for believers to invite church members who have stopped attending church to come back again.
However, I am rather shocked that this simple act of extending an invitation to those who have stopped going to church will bring millions back to church!
I feel lots of tension about this type of campaign.
On the one hand, I ask myself…
- “What’s wrong with getting people back to church? It might help them reconnect with Christ.”
- “Wouldn’t it be great if it works?”
- “Who do I know that might come with me to church if I invited them back?”
On the other hand, I wonder…
- “How will going back to church this weekend advance the kingdom of God?”
- “Will many Christians feel that they’ve done their part in the mission of Jesus if they just invite someone?”
- “Does this type of event create a dependence on the church service to do what Christians should be doing themselves (caring for other Christians, loving one another, etc)?”
- “Will churches be prepared to deal with the hurt and pain that many people have felt (which has kept them from church)?”
- “How might this create a sense that going to church is the most important part of following Jesus (vs. loving obedience or making disciples)?”
- “Is there a better way?”
I wish I had more to offer than my questions.
I long to see the church be more than a destination. I pray that those who go back to church this Sunday will encounter the living Christ and be drawn into relationship with Him!