This Sunday, Sept. 18, is National Back to Church Sunday. The concept was launched two years ago in response to a 2008 LifeWay Research study that found 63 percent of Americans would be open to a friend or neighbor inviting them to church, and 67 percent to a family member.
But despite people’s openness to being invited, only 2 percent of Christians invite a non-churchgoer in a given year, according to LifeWay Research. Back to Church Sunday wants to change that.
African Americans are the most open to being invited to church, compared to other ethnic groups—another LifeWay Research finding.
Back to Church Sunday was started to encourage Christians to invite people to church and to make newcomers feel welcome. This year, the event falls on this Sunday, Sept. 18, although some churches choose to hold it on other Sundays.
Of course, evangelism is much more than a church invitation; it’s taking the time to patiently listen and caring enough to stick by someone even when they don’t want to go to church. In my own experiences, I’ve watched friends leave church or Christianity altogether because of the judgmental way some Christians had treated them.
And so, as we extend these invitations, we must keep in mind that our friends, family and neighbors may be wary of going back to church and we must respect their experiences. There are times when it is better to listen than to preach. We must invite graciously, without judging or pressuring, while remaining open to talking about their doubts, concerns and struggles.
What about you? What advice and lessons have you learned? How do you invite people to church and share your faith with them?