The 2009 launch of Back to Church Sunday opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the church – especially the opportunity to invite back our friends and loved ones who had previously given up on the church. As we see a continual increase in the number of churches engaged with this effort – I found myself wondering what the real results have been? Has there just been another short term rise in attendance as a result of a campaign – or are lives really being changed?
The Outreach team supports Back to Church Sunday by striving to provide churches with the right tools, the right ingredients – to connect with those who need to hear the truth of the Gospel. But having the right tools, without the “heart”, the “passion” and the sense of urgency of your people – you have a state of the art kitchen being used by an incompetent team of chefs! So when you think about what is “exciting” – it goes beyond the amazing new materials you have. To quote Randy Frazee (2008 Small Groups Conference) – “What are your people willing to die for? Jesus is worth dying for….I won’t spend another hour of my time being a social coordinator to suburban Christians!”
The very essence of the Christian message starts in true community – outside the walls of the church. The daily life of a Christian starts with their love of their neighbor. Like Randy spoke about, I am also surprised at how much time we spend in our “Christian bubble” – driving to church, driving to small group, doing missions work, and scheduling the church picnic – while ignoring the people who live next door, across the street – right under our noses. To truly make the church the force it needs to be, we need equipped Christians – who are excited about the fact that we can offer hope, truth and eternal salvation. We need church members who “own” the vision. We need Pastors who know and share the vision – and live it. So in the midst of all the exciting things we do as churches – let’s not lose sight of why we’re doing it. It’s not about our comfort, it’s about our calling.
So as you prepare to engage with Back to Church this fall, challenge your leadership and the people to answer the question – “What are we bringing them back for?” Answering that will shape the purpose. Then work on getting master chefs back into the kitchen!