What will it take to get people back to church?

What will it take to get worshipers back to church? It might require some creative pastoring, like maybe a “pastor rap” video.

Social media could help — who isn’t on Facebook and/or Twitter? How about good old-fashioned grass-roots door visits and door hangers?

All are suggestions by the National Back to Church Sunday movement. The nationwide event is scheduled for Sept. 16.

More than 14,000 churches are expected to invite people to come back to church on National Back to Church Sunday.

National Back to Church Sunday is based on the simple principle that 82 percent of people will come to church if invited by a friend, yet only 2 percent of church members invite their unchurched friends.

The exodus from church continues to be a problem, one felt here in York County. Just yesterday, I visited a downtown church and was privately told that attendance is a serious problem.

This is from a story I did in June about declining attendance:

More than 22,000 York County residents cut ties with religious affiliations in the past 10 years, according to a national survey.

The survey, released last month by the Association of Religion Data Archives, showed the 14-percent drop was seven times greater than the nationwide decline of 2 percent.

The Catholic Church and mainline Protestant churches suffered the biggest losses — all higher than the national averages in York County. At the same time, many evangelical Protestant churches saw explosive growth, although their congregations account for a very small part of the population.

From the link above, here are six ways churches can encourage their members to get ready for Back to Church Sunday:

Churches are praying for their communities, that God will prompt members to invite people to church and that hearts will be moved to accept.
Congregations are viewing and sharing the “Pastor Rap – Back to Church Sunday” video. Already viewed more than 64,000 times, the video is part of the Back to Church 2012 Church Kit, available at www.BacktoChurch.com/store. The kit also includes six other promotional videos, more than 60 digital resources, an e-book, e-vites, social media links, sermons and other materials.
Church members are using social media content for Facebook and Twitter. Organizers can exchange ideas on the National Back to Church Sunday Facebook page (www.facebook.com/backtochurch), while the event’s website (www.BacktoChurch.com) gives individuals an opportunity to extend electronic invitations to friends, relatives and colleagues.
Invitations, door hangers and other resources are helping church members reach out to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. These items can be ordered at www.BacktoChurch.com/store, or churches can order customized promotional items by calling 1-800-991-6011.
Back to Church Sunday School curriculum is also available for children to help provide a positive experience on Sept. 16 for every age group.
Churches are registering their names and locations on the National Back to Church Sunday roster, making it easy for people to find a church to attend on Sept. 16. Registration is free and simple. A list of participating churches is available at www.BacktoChurch.com/roster.

Churches are encouraged to sign up at www.BacktoChurch.com and begin taking steps now to equip members to invite people to church on Sept. 16.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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2 Responses to What will it take to get people back to church?

  1. Jo Ott says:

    I’d go back in a minute if–people would refrain from wearing ANYTHING scented and not drink whiskey for breakfast! I still belong to a wonderful Methodist church in Arlington, VA even though I now live in PA. I had to stop attending services years ago because my lungs were being poisoned by all the foul air. Medical personnel now insist people do not come into their offices wearing scented products and I wish churches and other closed facilities would do the same.

  2. September 16 is a very appropriate choice for a “back to Church” Sunday for on the Anglican, Lutheran, and Catholic calendar it is the Commemoration of Cyprian, 3rd Century Bishop of Carthage who was martyred for the faith.

    Cyprian had a very high view of the church: Cyprian knew well, and strongly stated it, that “there is no salvation outside the Church” (Epistle 4,4 and 73,21), and that “he who doesn’t have the Church as his mother can’t have God as his Father” (“The Unity of the Catholic Church,” 4).

    Or, in more contemporary terms: How long would a marriage last if a spouse were to say “I love you but I really don’t like your body?”

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