Back to Church Sunday

Back to Church Sunday 2010

Did you invite a friend to church on Back to Church Sunday last year? Read the report for 2010 which includes feedback from participating churches. The Methodist section of the report begins on page 168.

Background 

From coffee morning to Sunday morning
A free five session-course preparing churches for Back to Church Sunday. The course aims to help move relationships from social encounter to spiritual engagement.

Download a Back to Church Sermon  here

Back to Church Sunday began in 2004 in the Diocese of Manchester, and by 2008 virtually all dioceses, most Baptist churches and others took part. In 2009 the Methodist Church and Salvation Army also promoted it, with nearly every other denomination piloting or rolling out the programme. In 2009 Back to Church Sunday mobilised around 4,650 churches in the UK to invite their friends to church. As a result over 80,000 extra people attended church on Back to Church Sunday, with a long-term result of around 10,000 people added to the church in one day.

 

The Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary and Secretary of the Methodist Conference endorses Back to Church Sunday and says "the feedback we have received from participating Methodist churches is very positive". You can  read some of that feedback here.

Motivation 
Back to Church Sunday - come as you areThe co-ordinating group is mainly made up of volunteers, led by businessman Michael Harvey, who believe that this is a "God-idea". The increased attendances in participating churches have pleasantly surprised many - 4000 people in 2006, 2000 churches received 20,000 extra worshippers in 2007, 3000 churches an extra 36,000 in 2008 and 82,000 in 2009. The overall effect has been the attraction of more and more churches to the scheme. 

The emphasis is on individual Christians giving personal invitations to appropriate people in their circle of contacts. It is therefore an encouragement to Christians to regain confidence in doing something that they know they should.  

It is also proving to be an opportunity for those who have got out of the habit of going to church, or for those who have thought it is something they should look into, to find an entry point. 

There is evidence of "unchurched" people responding as well, because the key factor is a good relationship or friendship with the person inviting. According to Michael Harvey smaller congregations have more success at inviting people, and the number of successful welcomers does not increase with the size of the church. Most Methodist churches are smaller, as we are aware. 

Implications for churches to be thinking about

To what kind of church are we inviting people back?
 
Taking part in the programme can be a stimulus in the direction of becoming a mission-shaped church. It raises questions such as, "How does the church look through the eyes of an outsider?"  For example, have you considered parking, welcome, décor, signs, worship experience, displays, refreshments? Participants are not expected to make sweeping changes or become self-critical, but to consider what steps they might take to become more as God intends them to be. "Do the ordinary with a sparkle".

How welcoming is our church? 
You could carry out a  welcome audit and hold a welcome workshop. This  powerpoint presentation may help. Follow this link to Unlocking the Growth films, featuring steps 1 - 4 of the 12 steps to becoming an inviting church.

Your church might consider carrying out a church audit called Gateways to God?  which you can download here

How connected are we with the community? 
The programme is a stimulus to consider the local people the church seeks to serve. Whose needs shape the activities of the church? Is church life organized so that it is easily accessible for everyone? Sometimes small manageable changes can make church and its activities more attractive to those who do not currently attend. Back to Church Sunday is not meant to be a big one-off event, before returning to "business as usual" the following week. Yes, preparation and a special effort will be needed, but the intention and hope is that those invited will return the next Sunday, and the next. 

Here is a stimulus to re-gain confidence in who we are in Christ - as individuals and as churches. The truth of the gospel is the same, and some people are open to being invited to return into fellowship, or to consider what the church has to offer. Much goodwill has been created by the programme, and numbers attending is increasing year on year. There are more and more stories of individuals and couples who have returned to fellowship, and others who have responded to the gospel. 

                   What preparations can churches be making?

 

Book a local speaker to visit your church to talk about Back to Church Sunday

January to Easter  Back to Church Sunday 2010
Church Council agrees to support Back to Church Sunday and puts the date in the church diary. 

Appoint a church co-ordinator. 

Register and order resources.

Read about available training for your church.

Initial thinking about speaker and participants in the service. 

Plan a communication strategy for May to July.

Consider using From coffee morning to Sunday morning to prepare your church to move on from Back to Church Sunday to forging new relationships of spiritual engagement.

Easter to July 
Church resources are available in July - to ensure that your church receives the resources, you must  register by 30 June. Ordering opens in April. 

Use worship services, house groups or welcome workshops to consider - "What kind of church are we?" "What kind of people are we inviting?" "What are we planning to do?" 

Include good news stories and testimonies to encourage participation in inviting. 

Encourage prayer for the event, potential guests and a follow up/nurture course. 

Decide on invitations form pastoral lists, junior church list, cradle roll, weddings, funerals.

First three Sundays in September 
Distribute prayer cards and personal invitation cards. 
Pray for the event and potential guests. 
Encourage people to invite others personally. 

Back to Church Sunday
Enjoy the day! The average Methodist church will have 14 guests.
Respond the next week to the Back to Church feedback request.

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The Methodist Prayer Handbook 2014/15

Prayer Handbook

The latest edition of the Prayer Handbook looks at our everyday sacrifices as God's people taken up by God into the eternal sacrifice of the Cross

Order online here.