Whether you're a regular churchgoer, someone who has fallen away from attendance -- or an individual who has never, in your life, been to a worship service, "National Back to Church Sunday" will have something to offer you. The initiative, aimed at encouraging Americans to attend local houses of worship, will involve thousands of churches across America. Pastors are so fired up for the national effort that they've even put together a rap video to help advertise it (see below).
On September 16, 2012, the campaign will culminate, as churches have been inviting citizens for months to give church a try this upcoming Sunday. The initiative, unique in its own regard, relies upon Christians to inspire and invite neighbors, friends and community members to go to church with them.
In 2011, more than 7,600 houses of worship participated, according to the "National Back to Church Sunday" web site. And at a time when so many are questioning faith's role in the nation and examining whether churches are dwindling in their influence, the end result of the campaign was an average 25 percent increase in attendance on the designated day.
On the official web site for the event, the following reasons are given for why Christians -- and churches -- should get involved:
- It’s a catalyst – Pastors give a call to action; communities have a rallying point
- It’s simple – All churches, one date, one clear message – come back to church!
- It’s personal – It empowers members to make a personal invitation to church.
- It works – On average churches saw a 26% increase in attendance on Back to Church Sunday.
- It’s grassroots – It’s powered by the people, not a program
- It empowers – People are energized by an inspiring event and easy-to-use invitations
- It’s free – Churches don’t have to buy anything or use any of our resources – it’s simply a great idea that works by just doing it!
While the goal for 2012 was 10,000 churches, the group has already attracted 12,752 churches. Getting involved is easy, as the program provides a five-step plan that provides tips and resources for individuals and houses of worship, alike. There's even a useful church search tool that helps connect people to local congregations.
The grassroots campaign takes on some viral tenets as well, with comical videos and a robust social media presence. Take, for instance, the pastoral rap video that encourages citizens to participate (viewed on YouTube almost 139,000 times):
And then there are some comical videos depicting awkward and unpalatable methods of inviting un-churched peoples to worship. Here's one (for the entire list of videos, go here):
The campaign has attracted some high-profile attention, as well. Bethany Hamilton, the 20-year-old who lost her arm in a shark attack when she was only 13, has joined in to help support the initiative. In a press release announcing her support, she stressed the importance of growing up as part of a church. The experience, she said, brought her encouraging friends who have helped her live a Christian life.
"My church is a place where I can develop friendships with others that will encourage me in my walk with Christ," Hamilton explained. "I hope you can find a church too. National Back to Church Sunday is a great time to start looking for a church that suits you."
Find out more about the back-t0-church initiative here.