3 Important Tasks for the Week Leading Up to Your Back to Church Sunday Celebration

As you are counting down to Back to Church Sunday and making sure final preparations are in place for your church’s celebration, here are three important tasks that you do not want to overlook:

  • Encouraging Your People to Take the Plunge
  • Last Minute Prep for Guests
  • Clarifying Your Gospel Presentation
Encouraging Your People to Take the Plunge

You have been casting the vision of Back to Church Sunday to your people for weeks now.  You have challenged them to prayerfully consider who God is placing on their heart to invite. You have equipped them with invite cards and Engager invitations, encouraging them to share them with that person. You have shown videos helping them overcome any hesitations they might have when it comes to talking to their friends and inviting them to church.  You have publicly prayer week after week for those who are far from God in your community and for boldness to reach out to them. Now, in this final week, you need to make one final push for your people to step up and take action.

Many people hear your challenges, watch the videos, take the invite cards and pray for that person, but they have not yet made the actual invite.  They are committed to the idea of introducing their friend, neighbor or coworker to Jesus… to inviting them to experience the beauty of the local church and hear the gospel clearly presented.  However, many need a gentle push to take action. Now is the time to come alongside of them and lead them to step out and put all that you have been championing into action.  

Take time this week to send out a text, email or perhaps even have your ministry leaders make phone calls to your people.  Let them know you are praying for them and for the person they are inviting. Tell them how excited you are to see how God is working through them to reach others.  Let them know you are looking forward to meeting the person they invite and ask them to be sure to introduce them to you on Sunday. This may be just the added touch they need to make that invitation.

Last Minute Prep for Guests

Guests are arriving in just a few days and you have likely been working on preparing your church to welcome those newcomers. Make the time this week to walk through your church facilities, from the parking lot to the bathrooms, children’s areas to the lobby, and everywhere in between. Keep your eyes open for anything that might look out of place and clutter that has gone unnoticed. Do your children’s areas appear fresh, clean and safe? Is your entryway inviting? Would a new family feel as if you were expecting them to arrive, ready to welcome them?

Reach out to your hospitality/first impressions volunteers this week. Let them know how thankful you are to have them serving and remind them that their ministry to newcomers is so very important. Plan a time to gather with your hospitality/first impressions team early before your weekend worship gatherings to pray together.  Take that prayer time to ask God’s blessing upon all of their conversations and to remember that every guest is an opportunity for Jesus to make an eternal impact.

Clarifying Your Gospel Presentation

There will be people walking through your church doors who find themselves in great brokenness. They may be sincerely searching for something, or they may just be appeasing a friend who invited them. Whatever brings them to your church, we all know God desires to bless their lives with wholeness and healing.  This is an incredible opportunity to extend the hope and truth of Jesus in a way that connects with them and encourages them to respond.

Spend focused time in prayer and preparation on how you will present the gospel this week. Think through the fact that many of your guests may be unfamiliar with church, so be sure that you communicate clearly in a manner that will meet them where they are and help them to see the beauty of Christ’s forgiveness.  Reach out and ask others to be praying for you as you preach and for those who will be listening this weekend. 

We believe God is going to do a mighty work through your church, and churches across the country, as we celebrate National Back to Church Sunday together!  Know that our team is lifting you up in prayer and we look forward to hearing and seeing the great reports from your church as God is glorified and lives are transformed by Jesus.  Be sure to share photos and stories of your Back to Church Sunday in the Facebook group so we can all celebrate TOGETHER! 

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With 20 years of pastoral leadership experience, Jason Daye is passionate about helping ministry leaders discover how God is already working in their unique ministry contexts and uncover opportunities to build bridges into their neighborhoods to extend the hope of Christ.  Jason’s lead pastor roles have provided him experience in several contexts including church plant re-launch, multi-site church, multi-ethnic urban church, and established suburban churches.  He has also served in pioneering mission work and compassionate ministry projects in several countries.

The Daye As Vice President of Mobilization, he dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness as they embrace the mission of Jesus.  Jason provides oversight to key ministry initiatives at Outreach, equipping Christ-followers to share their faith and engaging churches to reach their communities. Jason also serves as the Executive Director of National Back to Church Sunday and as host of the Churchleaders podcast. 

Jason lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children. He enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram @jasondaye.

 

8 Last Minute Planning Tips!

National Back to Church Sunday is just 10 days away! Here are a few last minute things you can still do that will help you see more visitors and connect with them when they come to your church! 

  1. Update Your Church Website and Announce Your Plans. Be sure to include the Back to Church Sunday promotional video and web graphics that were included in the 2019 Church Kit
  2. Decorate your church in the Together theme. You can still order themed stock items like bulletin shells, poster and t-shirts for the big event. 
  3. Hand out invitations and posters to members this weekend so they can invite their friends and neighbors to church.  
  4. Begin (or continue) to post on Social Media. Remind your congregation to like your posts and then share them on their own pages with their friends. The videos in the church kit are also great tools to use on social media. 
  5. Show one of the Invite or Promo Videos during your service this Sunday. The Invite videos are a powerful reminder of the importance of inviting people to church. The Promo videos are a great way to build excitement and get everyone ready for next week’s big event. 
  6. Send an email to your congregation- encourage them to be bold and bring a friend to church with them next week –  you can include one of the videos in the email as a fun, engaging way to get your point across. 
  7. Post outdoor banners with your service times on the street outside your church – this will help visitors find your church and feel more welcome. Eye-catching flag banners along the street or up your driveway are another great tool to make your church more visible. 
  8. Plan an hour of Prayer. Set aside time with your staff and ministry leaders to pray that visitors will come and feel welcome and ready to learn more about Jesus. You may want to ask your congregation to also set aside a few minutes the day before your service to pray for the event and the people they have invited. 

We are so excited to hear about your plans and what God does in your church – please share your stories with us on our Facebook page or through email. 

10 of the Best Ways to Make Visitors Feel Welcome at Church

Visiting a new church for the first time tends to be intimidating — there’s a lot for visitors to figure out! You want to welcome visitors to church and make them feel at home and at ease once they arrive, but how can you make that happen?

Here are 10 ways to make sure your church creates a welcoming environment for new visitors:

1. Have a great church website

You get one chance to make a great first impression, and your church’s website is often the first interaction a visitor has with your church. Your website should show visitors exactly what to expect when they visit you. Creating a great website takes time, but these five must-haves will ensure your website is visitor-friendly:

  • Service start and end times. Displaying the start and end time of your service lets visitors know when to arrive, and how long they can expect to stay. Make sure these are prominently displayed on your homepage.
  • Your church’s address. People can’t visit your church if they don’t know where to find you! Display this on your home page, too. Want to go one step further? Include a Google Maps plugin so visitors can easily click, enter their address, and get directions straight to your church.
  • Contact information. You need to include your church’s phone number and a contact email on your homepage. Potential visitors want to see that they can easily get in touch with you. You don’t have to provide the pastor’s direct email — hello@yourchurchname.com or info@yourchurchname.com are great options for general inquiries about your church.
  • A page for new visitors. Have a tab on your homepage titled “New Here?” or “What to Expect” that invites visitors to click. This should take them to a page that tells them everything they need to know about attending your church for the first time. Include information about what they should wear, where to park, where to go once they arrive, and childcare options.
  • Access to previous sermons. Having recent sermons on your website gives visitors a chance to experience your teaching style before they visit. This lets them figure out if your church might be a good fit for them. Listening to prior sermons also helps put new guests at ease on their first visit because they’ll have an idea of what to expect from you. Have a page on your website that houses your sermons, and make sure to link to it from the homepage and from the designated new visitors page.

Now that we’ve made sure new visitors will get a great first impression from your website, let’s cover what they need from you when they arrive on Sunday. (If you need a great new website – click here)

2. Easy parking

Your new visitors have your address and are excited about their first visit to your church, but they’re nervous, too! They need to know what to do once they arrive. Put them at ease from the moment they turn into your parking lot with clear signage. Here’s what you need:

  • Good signage. First of all, a sign by the road lets your visitors know they’ve arrived at the right place. This is especially important if your church has a longer driveway and is not easily visible from the road. Banners and flags are great options — they catch the attention of those driving by and make your location unmistakable!
  • Parking spaces. Once a new visitor pulls into your parking lot, they need to know where to go. Signs that point to general parking, signs that designate spots reserved for visitors, or friendly volunteers directing people to empty spots are all great options to take the pressure off visitors.
  • A clear path indoors. Don’t forget to have signs pointing visitors to the inside of the building. Churches often have many sets of doors, and the last thing you want is a new visitor trying to enter the building through locked doors. Having signs (and volunteers) that point visitors to the correct entrance will put your guests at ease from the start.

3. Friendly Greeters

Greeters are the first points of contact for new visitors. They can make anxious guests feel cared for and comforted as they navigate the hectic first few minutes of arriving at your church. Train greeters to be warm and engaging with each person who walks through the door. Hospitality is key!

On big Sundays like Easter and Christmas, it’s especially helpful to have greeters at several different points:

  • Exterior doors. Greeters by the exterior doors offer a friendly welcome and serve as the first point of reference for any questions a visitor may have.
  • Info booth/welcome desk. If your church doesn’t have a designated spot for visitors to find information, set one up! Have a sign that clearly marks the booth and make sure greeters are trained to answer any prospective questions a new visitor has. Greeters should also be ready and willing to escort visitors wherever they need to go (children’s ministry, sanctuary, etc.).
  • Sanctuary doors. Have greeters stand at the sanctuary doors. They can hand out bulletins and show visitors where to go inside the sanctuary.

Keep in mind that all greeters should receive some training on best practices. They should be friendly but not overwhelming, able to answer any questions, and able to direct visitors to any part of the building. Above all, they need to be good people readers!

4. Interior Signs

Visitors need to be able to know where to go as soon as they walk through your doors. Yes, you have greeters in place, but they could be occupied with other guests. Plus, if a guest is on the shy side, they might prefer finding their way on their own. This means you need signs that clearly indicate where to find:

  • the info booth/welcome desk
  • restrooms
  • childcare
  • the sanctuary

These signs should not be handwritten or printed from a computer. They need to be large enough to be easily read from far away!     

5. Inviting Atmosphere

What does this mean? Your church needs to be clean, and it needs to be well decorated. A dingy lobby or dirty restroom is an instant turn-off to church visitors. It shows them that you don’t take pride in the presentation of your church. It’s important to be good stewards of our spaces, so here are two must-haves for an inviting atmosphere:

  • Clean spaces. Your church should be clean all the time, but it’s especially important to make it sparkle on a big Sunday that attracts lots of new visitors.This may even mean having a volunteer monitor high-traffic areas (especially restrooms) throughout the day so they can keep everything clean and tidy during the pre- and post-service rush.
  • Welcoming decor. The way your church is decorated influences the way people feel while they are there. You don’t need a huge budget for decorations. Fresh paint, well-chosen artwork, coordinating furniture, and green plants will go a long way toward making visitors feel at home.

6. Exceptional Childcare

A guest’s experience with your children’s ministry can make or break their first visit. Imagine how anxious parent and kids may feel about being separated when they visit a new church. Having an excellent children’s ministry can relieve their worries from the start! Here’s what you need to make sure your children’s ministry area is up to speed:

  • Excellent staff and volunteers who genuinely love children. Highly motivated people dedicated to providing a safe, fun, and educational environment for the kids in their care are so important. A bright smile and calm, welcoming demeanor will do wonders for setting parents and kids at ease, especially if they are first-timers!
  • Easy check-in. Make sure the process is safe and efficient, but don’t over-do it. Simple and streamlined is the goal here. Let parents know their children will be well-cared for, but that you’ll discreetly notify them during service if their child should happen to need them.
  • A happy, bright space. Creating a space that invites kids to be kids is crucial! Invest in kid-friendly decorations, toys, and educational tools that will make kids want to come in and stay. If they’re begging their parents to come back next week because they had so much fun, you’re much more likely to see first-time visitors become regular attendees.
  • Have a cry room. Some parents are reluctant to leave their infants and toddlers in the nursery, so provide a “cry room” or nursing mother’s room where parents can take a fussy babies during the service. Set this room up with anything a parent might need to keep themselves and their child comfortable. It helps to have a way for them to listen to (and preferably watch) the service.

7. Visitor-friendly sanctuary

Creating a sanctuary that invites visitors in is pretty straightforward:

  • Don’t have large sections roped off. This might confuse visitors and make your church seem uninviting.
  • Do have ushers available to guide visitors to seats if necessary. Smart ushers can even place visitors next to friendly individuals or families who will be sure to engage guests before or after the service.
  • Don’t place new visitors right at the front. There’s no quicker way to make them feel like they’re under a microscope!

8. Acknowledge visitors during the service

New visitors will be paying close attention to the order of your service. It’s important to include them in ways they won’t find embarrassing. Here’s how:

  • Welcome them, but don’t single them out. Simply say something like “If this is your first Sunday with us, welcome! We’re so glad you’re here!”. It’s probably best not to ask them stand up or raise their hands. Some new visitors might not mind this, but it could mortify others!
  • Let your visitors know there’s a connection card in their bulletin, and tell them where to turn it in. If you want to make sure you get these back, tell them to take the card to the welcome desk after the service in exchange for a free gift.
  • Don’t make the offering an obligation. When it’s time to pass the offering plates, let your guests know they’re welcome to give if they would like to, but that it’s not expected or required.
  • Make sure new visitors know where to go after the service. If you offer prayer time after the service, let guests know where to go to receive it. Remind them about dropping off their visitor card at the info booth (or another designated spot). Let them know there are volunteers ready to connect with them and answer their questions!

9. Post-service connection

After giving your guests clear instructions for what to do after the service, have volunteers head out to the info booth a few minutes before the service ends. This way they can be ready and waiting to greet guests as soon as they exit the sanctuary. Here’s how you can connect with visitors:

  • Have greeters available to connect with guests. They can pray with guests, answer their questions, or just chat with newcomers to get to know them. If possible, have your pastor available to greet them, too! This will make new visitors feel extra valued.
  • Collect connection cards and offer guests a free gift. You should still offer a gift even if visitors don’t fill out the card. If they don’t feel ready to offer up their contact information after one visit, a no-strings-attached gift will go a long way toward making them feel like their presence is genuinely appreciated. T-shirts, books, and mugs all make great gifts.
  • Inform greeters of ways new visitors can get plugged in to your church. Some first timers may not be ready to commit right away, but others might be ready to sign up for a small group, prayer breakfast, etc.

10. Follow up

Now that you’ve collected those connection cards, don’t forget to reach out! Timely contact with church visitors is key. If they took the time to fill out the card and give it back, chances are high they’ll be happy to hear from you!

Your connection cards should have a space for a visitor’s phone number and email address. It also helps to have space for them to indicate their preferred mode of contact (text, email, or phone). Here are a couple of visitor-friendly ideas to get you started:

  • Same day. Send a text or email later that day thanking them for coming. It doesn’t need to be long or complicated — just let them know you’re happy they visited.
  • Later that week. Send an email saying “See you Sunday!”  to show visitors you’re excited to see them again. This is a great time to mention a sermon series or fun event happening at your church. This is also when you can provide individualized information about connecting with any groups or events your guests expressed interest in.

There you have it! Taking the time to make sure church visitors feel welcome will go a long way toward making them regular attendees of your church. Start with these ten steps and build on them. You’ll be sure to create an inviting church environment that will make new visitors want to return again and again.

5 Ways NOT to Welcome Guests this Fall

As you gear up to welcome visitors to your church for Back to Church Sunday and other fall events, consider how your church can greet them, and make them feel comfortable and welcome so they will want to return. 

And while we all would like to think we’re good at assimilation, it’s easy to fall back on old habits or forget that the church world can seem strange to people who didn’t grow up in the culture. So consider these 5 Visitor “Don’ts” as you plan your ministry year: 

#1 – Don’t make a spectacle out of your new guests.

Guests don’t want to stand out in the crowd so don’t make them feel awkward by putting them in the spotlight. It may seem innocent but don’t make them stand up and wave, give them a special “I’m New” name tag, or make them carry around the “secret” gift bag. 

Instead, greeters at your front door should welcome church visitors with a friendly hand shake and guide them around your building. During the message, the pastor should extend a warm welcome and invite guests to pick up a visitor gift or meet a staff member after the service ends if they have questions. Let visitors discover how friendly and warm your church is without shining a huge spotlight that will make them feel uncomfortable.

#2 –  Don’t use awkward church lingo. 

Guests to your church are already intimidated enough just walking through the doors of your church. Hearing strange Christian expressions is a sure signal that they “don’t fit in”, and often we don’t even realize the words we are using will sound strange to an outside ear. 

Think about it…for people who don’t attend church, some of the regular things that happen on Sunday are strange enough: Where else do you go, stand around and sing together for 20 minutes? Or where else will you be served tiny bits of cracker and itsy cups of juice? It all makes sense and has beauty and significance to us, but don’t add to the strangeness of it by ‘giving a praise offering’ afterward. 

Instead, try to use everyday language to talk about spiritual things, for example, encourage people to change their ways and follow God instead of “repent”. But if you do use language like “Born Again” “Lord’s Supper” and “Spiritual Gifts” be sure to explain the meanings so newcomers don’t feel confused or left out but instead, learn more about the tenets of our faith .  

#3 – Don’t Make Your Children’s Area Scary for Parents. 

Don’t decide that Back to Church Sunday is the perfect Sunday to have your cousin, who moonlights as a clown, show up as Mr. Purple Pockets and greet all of the children. 

Instead, prepare your children’s area to receive new families by keeping the area clean, and having fun, playful decorations and signs. Train your volunteers to answer hesitant parent’s fears about safety, security and allergen-free snacks. Happy children who have fun at church leads to families who attend more regularly.

#4 – Don’t launch a capital campaign or hard sell the offering. 

A lot of unchurched people think that churches just want money from their members. When you know you are having a lot of visitors, don’t reinforce that stereotype by taking more than one offering or lecturing on the spiritual gift of poverty. 

Instead, talk about the gifts God has given us and then emulate Him by blessing your visitors with a free gift book, coupons to a local restaurant or coffee shop, or an invitation to an upcoming lunch or event with the staff where they can find out more about your ministries. 

#5 – Don’t bore your visitors. 

Back to Church Sunday is not a good day to launch a new sermon series on the Levitical Laws of Ancient Israel (or show endless slides of Elder Bob’s latest trip to the Holy Land).  Instead begin a series that talks about the beauty and power of coming together as a community in Christ. Try to send visitors home with relevant truths that can help them in the week ahead and then be sure to invite visitors to the following week’s sermon to learn more. 

Bonus Tip – Ditch the sock puppets and flannel graphs and anything else that says your church is lost in the 1990’s – instead show compelling videos that will grab and keep your audience’s attention. 

 

Taking it to the Streets: 5 Ways to Evangelize Your Community

It’s probably not a surprise that recent surveys and studies show that secularism is on the rise and church attendance is on the decline.  But what may come as a surprise is that in our digitally-connected society, recent studies show that “social media” can be anything but social – in fact it may be leading to increased isolation and loneliness. 

The people in your community are not exceptions to this phenomenon. So how do you reach a digital generation and show them that God’s plan is for people to be in fellowship and living in a faith community together? It just might take getting out of the church and out onto the streets of your neighborhood to meet, pray for, serve and invite. 

1) Meet people where they are

As a church leader you want people to come to your church, but in a society that was not raised on weekly church attendance, going to church is a foreign concept that may seem like more trouble than it’s worth. So instead of spending resources to get people to come in, you may have more success when you go out – build relationships and demonstrate God’s love before you invite people into your church.  

Ideas to get started: 

  • Make yourself a regular at a local spot. Study, write and answer emails from a coffee shop or diner. As you build relationships with the staff and other regulars you may just be able to have deeper conversations. Plus you will hear the concerns, stresses and struggles that are key to your community.
  • Get involved with local sports teams. This is an easy task If you have kids – and really something that you can encourage every parent in your church to mimic. Attend practices and games, talk to the other parents, make friends, learn about their lives and then invite them (or the kids) to church activities. 

But even if your members are past the “soccer mom” stage, supporting the local High School or college football and basketball teams are still great ways to meet people, support the youth in your church and connect with other fans.

Another sports related option is to put together a team from your church to play in a local sports league – just make sure all your players are good sports and can honor and represent God well even in the heat of competition! 

2) Become a Third Space

Often church buildings are not fully utilized during business hours or during the evenings. By opening your building up to other organizations for meetings or as a location for classes, you are providing a new avenue for people to get more familiar with your facility and staff. You may even want to think about working with local organizations to house an after school program or a senior citizen’s activity space. 

3) Pray for Your Community 

You probably already do this instinctively but what about intentionally and corporately? We all know that prayer is powerful and we are even commanded to pray for our leaders. But what if you planned and executed a more purposeful prayer plan with your congregation, such as sending out small teams to walk through a neighborhood and systematically praying for each household? While that may sound like a big assignment, “Prayer Walking” can be a great way to not only cover your community with God’s power but also to strengthen the faith of your members. 

So what is a Prayer Walk? It is physically walking “onsite” and praying at the places you are trying to reach and change. Take a walk in the neighborhood around your house or church and stop for a moment at each home; ask God to meet that family’s needs, to bring them into relationship with him, and to enable you and your church to be a conduit to show them the love and forgiveness of Jesus. 

Want to go even bigger, and organize all of your church’s prayer walkers? Well, it’s not hard now with a new app from Every Home for Christ (EHC). “Encounter Outreach” is a free mapping tool that helps mobilize the Church to reach their neighborhoods and cities with the Good News.  Churches can organize multiple-group outreach initiatives and then view and track the collective stats – giving them a complete picture of the areas that have been reached as well as those that need additional attention. The app even lets users create a list of people they want to pray for and a list to follow up with. 

Plus Outreach and EHC have partnered to give Churches FREE evangelism tools called Engagers that can be left at every home to start the conversation. The back of the Engager includes room for your church info so recipients can visit and learn more about Jesus. It’s a simple and powerful way to impact your community! 

4) Serve 

The saying “People don’t care what you know until they know you care” is really true; actions do speak louder than words. A good question to ask is what is your church doing to make a difference in the community? And the answers don’t have to be huge, complicated strategies that require a big budget, they can be as simple as recruiting a team of volunteers to help serve meals for the Salvation Army or local food kitchen, collecting supplies for a local food pantry, or organizing a backpack give away for a low income area. 

One suburban church started delivering hot coffee and donuts to morning commuters at the train station one day a week and then serving hot cup of soup in the evenings. They were able to share God’s love to commuters, vacationers and the homeless population. Paired with other service activities, their church became known in the community as a church that cared and was willing to help others. What a great reputation to cultivate!

5) Invite 

This one seems pretty obvious but being clear that your church wants new people to visit is a key step in evangelism. People are not familiar with church or Christianity may view church services more like a club meeting and may not realize that they are welcome to stop in any Sunday for service.

And offering multiple types of invitations multiple times is important – studies show that it takes up to 7 impressions before someone acts on an ‘ad’ and really a church invitation is just that. So take advantage of all the options open to your church including: Direct mail, personal invites, social media advertisements and events, doorhangers and outdoor banners

Every Home for Christ’s website says this: “ONE ENCOUNTER WITH GOD – that’s all it takes to shake up and transform a person’s life. It gives hope to the hopeless, restoration to the broken, and healing to the hurting. It isn’t complex and doesn’t need to be elaborate. A simple word, gentle action, honest story or humble prayer has the ability to lead people to an encounter with God that changes everything. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been given the honor of playing a pivotal role in sharing the Good News with the world, inviting others to experience the saving love of God. When we intentionally interact with the people around us, we see amazing things happen!”

So make a commitment this ministry season to encourage your members and staff to get out into the community, meeting new people, listening to their stories, praying and serving needs and ultimately inviting them to meet Jesus. It’s time to hit the streets.

Resources & Tips to Engage The Kids This Back to Church Sunday

National Back to Church Sunday is not just for adults, but for people of all ages. Church is supposed to be a community, and we want families to come and experience Jesus together. Part of getting families to come to church is having a strong children’s and youth ministry because having a good place for kids to learn, be in community, and have fun is something parents value and one of the top things they look for in a church. 

In recent years we’ve had awesome Back to Church resources for adults, but nothing created specifically for children’s ministry. Every year we ask what resources would be helpful to serve you as you prepare to host Back to Church Sunday. Last year the number one thing that was requested was…kids resources! We listened and made an awesome youth program guide with lessons and ideas to engage your young members and visitors (this free download should have been emailed to you when you added your church to the list of participating churches). 

And we made it easy for you! The downloadable guide includes memory verses, lessons that follow the book of Ephesians (these tie in with the sermons in this year’s event kit), craft ideas, fun game ideas, and so much more. The guide contains content specially crafted for three different age groups: 3-6 year olds, 7-10 year olds, and youth grades 6-12. The best part is, the guide is completely FREE when you add your church to the map of participating Back to Church Sunday churches. 

There are four lessons for each age group – one for the week of Back to Church Sunday and three for the following weeks to keep kids coming back. Each lesson has four parts to it: Learn, Listen, Discover and Create (or Move for the older kids) that are designed to inform, grow and engage the kids who come to your church this fall.  

Here is a little sneak peak into what is included in the download and ideas to engage the youth in your church this Back to Church Sunday. 

1) Learn & Listen

The first two sections in each lesson are Learn and Listen. The Learn section of the download has a memory verse from Ephesians for each week. The verse is a learnable length for each age group with the verse for the 3-6 year olds being very short and getting longer for the older age groups. This is the perfect way to start off the lesson and teach the kids to hide the Word of God in their hearts. 

After the Learn section, the Listen section is the lesson for the week. These lessons follow the theme of togetherness that is found in Ephesians and are similar to the sermons the adults are going through at the same time. These lessons are applicable for each age group with lots of practical examples and connections that make the concepts easy for the kids to remember. 

  • Week 1: Topic: The peace we find in Jesus. Example: Legos
  • Week 2: Topic: Experiencing the love of Jesus. Example: Love letter
  • Week 3: Topic: Together we grow stronger. Example: Aspen Trees
  • Week 4: Topic: Together we can change the world. Example: Superheroes. 

These sections are the perfect way for the kids in your church to learn about Jesus in a fun and memorable way, as well as memorize verses that will be with them when they go home. 

2) Discover & Create (or Move)

To go along with the lessons, the kids resource guide has fun game and craft ideas that are a great way to help the kids remember the lessons and have fun.

The Discover section includes lots of fun ideas for each age group. Some of the game suggestions include things like:

  • Building a lego church
  • Making care bags for the local shelter
  • Relay races
  • Making posters 
  • Minute-to-win-it games 
  • A service project
  • And much more

The last section of each lesson in the download is the Create section for 3-6 year olds and 7-10 year olds and the Move section for the older kids who are 6-12 graders. 

The Create section includes age-appropriate, easy-to-do crafts with inexpensive materials that go with the lesson for each week such as:  

  • Drawing 
  • Making sailboats out of apples
  • Writing messages on legos
  • Decorating capes
  • Making movie posters 
  • And baking a snack

For the older kids the Move section includes athletic games such as: 

  • Relay races
  • Team building challenges 
  • And a movie making contest 

All of the resources within the download will get the young people in your church involved whether they are 3 year olds or seniors in high school. Each lesson is hand crafted with each age group in mind to challenge them, encourage them and let them have fun. 

Ways to Engage Youth

Along with this download, an awesome way to engage the kids at your church this Back to Church Sunday is to ask them questions. Kids love to be asked questions because it not only allows them to learn and understand things, but also demonstrates that their thoughts are valuable. 

Another great way to engage the youth is to do activities that are associated with the lessons. Kids might forget a lesson, but they often will remember a game, and if the game is tied to the lesson then the chances of them remembering the concepts from the lesson are much higher. Using games and challenges where your youth have to work together to accomplish a goals also increases interaction. There are so many lessons that can be learned when kids have to work in groups such as comprise, patience and teamwork to name a few. 

We want to be able to equip your church to reach as much of your community as possible on this Back to Church Sunday. Use these resources to reach all age groups in a practical way that engages them and teaches them about the love of Jesus and the togetherness we have in him. Take advantage of this guide to create an unforgettable Sunday for all ages! 

How the “Together” Sermon Series Can Launch Your Fall the Right Way!

The summer is flying by and before we know it, it will be fall and Back to Church Sunday!

We are gearing up for Back to Church Sunday and hope that you are busy praying and planning for September 15th! The heart of this event is to reach people who do not regularly attend church. We believe that the church should be unified together in being outward focused in reaching those around them with the love of Jesus. 

As you are starting to think about what you will preach on this Back to Church Sunday, take a look at this year’s Back to Church Kit (if you don’t have a kit yet, click here to save 50% off). It includes a 4-week sermon series called “Together” that you can kick off on Back to Church Sunday. This new series is awesome because it: (1) empowers people to invite everyone they know to Back to Church Sunday by giving them a specific reason; (2) unites your church members and visitors with its powerful message of community; and (3) provides three weeks of follow up for which everyone will want to return.

The “Together” sermons start off by acknowledging that everyone has had a different experience with church — some good and some pretty painful. It conveys that Christians are not perfect and can do hurtful things, but God is perfect, loves us all and wants us to spend time with Him. The main theme in the series is that Together the church can create something much bigger and better than each member on their own. 

Part 1: Back to Church Sunday- Week 1 & 2

The first two weeks of the series go through the first part of the Ephesians which talks about God’s redemptive plan to bring humans to himself. They explain how through of Jesus’ work on the cross “Together We Find Peace” and “Together We Experience Love”. These first two weeks are a perfect introduction into the gospel and the saving work of Jesus for those who have never heard it and a great reminder to believers of how awesome Jesus’ work for us on the cross is. Click here to download an excerpt of the week 1 sermon.

Week 1: “Together We Find Peace”

“Together We Find Peace” explains how Jesus broke down the deepest divisions, and through Him we have unity and peace, and because we have that peace we should share it with a world that is so desperate for peace. It also explains that, “peace is not ignoring differences, conflict, or reality. Peace is not an image to be upheld or a feeling to be pursued.” 

This is the perfect way to start off Back to Church Sunday with main points that break down barriers and encourage us that our peace is in Jesus. 

  • Peace in unity
  • Peace in God’s presence
  • The Way of Peace—All Being Built Together
Week 2: “Together We Experience Love”

“Together We Experience Love” addresses how the church should have an inseparable association with love. The people in the church are the church. It is not a building, and we must love God and love others because that is the Lord’s heart for his church. 

This message focuses on the church coming together to show love to others. “It’s about coming together into the shared expression and transformative experience of God’s love.”

  • We experience God’s Love Together
  • Love is God’s Plan
  • Love binds us together as one

Part 2: Back to Church Sunday- Week 3 & 4

The last two weeks go through the second part of Ephesians and how in light of what Jesus did for us we can “Together Grow Stronger” and “Together We Can Change The World”. It shifts the focus onto what we as the church should do in light of the gospel. 

Week 3: “Together We are Stronger”

Week three is all about how the church is connected and that “Together We are Stronger” because:

  • There is strength in numbers
  • We are one
  • Growth requires change

It uses many illustrations to point out that we need to come together as the church, and we need to do this not just to stay safe but to have strength moving forward in what God has called us to. It reminds us that we are created for community and coming together is not just about getting more people to come to church on Sunday mornings, but to using the unique gifts that God has given each person to further the Kingdom. 

Week 4: “Together We Can Change The World”

The final week of the series closes out with how “Together the Church Can Change The World”. It explains that changing the world doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does “require consistent choices to follow Christ daily and to walk together on the journey as He leads us”. This sermon is practical with three things that help us: 

  • Dream big, act small
  • Recognize eternal
  • Stay connected

We need to start small because the small everyday choices that we make add up and each small step we take in our relationship with Jesus is significant. It also encourages us to keep our perspective eternal because this life is so short. We need each other to stay focused and keep our eyes on Jesus.

The “Together” series beautiful wraps up by saying that the Church matters because community matters. “Connection matters. Unity matters. Living as a part of God’s family matters. When we pursue these things together, we find that together we find peace, together we experience love, together we grow stronger and together we can change the world.”

Conclusion

“Together” is a great series to share the good news of Jesus and be encouraged and challenged to live more like Christ. You’ll want to try it on your church and here’s why – it is both relate-able and easy to understand for someone who has never been to church or heard the good news of Jesus; and it’s encouraging and challenging to believers in the church – making it the perfect way to kick off the fall ministry season and help people truly connect. 

 

3 Ways to Use Video to Create Excitement

You’ve added your church to the map and are excited about participating in Back to Church Sunday… but you need a memorable, relateable and practical way to get your church excited about inviting. 

By getting your congregation excited about Back to Church Sunday, you can increase your reach into the community. Think about it! All the people who attend your church have the potential to invite hundreds (if not thousands) of people to come to church with them. 

Equipping and inspiring members to invite is essential to the success of Back to Church Sunday because without them the event is just a regular Sunday. What better way to equip and inspire your congregation to be inviters than to show videos in your church during the weeks leading up to Back to Church Sunday? 

Don’t worry — you don’t need a fancy camera, actors and editing software to do this! Outreach has four videos made especially for Back To Church Sunday that you can show in your church and post to your social media pages and websites. Not only are these videos fun to watch, but they are effective when it comes to motivating people to invite. 

You might be asking, “Why are videos so important when promoting Back To Church Sunday at your church?” 

Here are three reasons why using video as part of your planning and promoting Back to Church Sunday is important and EFFECTIVE!

1) Videos are Relatable.

Have you ever felt a certain way, but thought that you were the only person who has ever experienced that feeling? 

When it comes to participating in Back to Church Sunday and inviting people to come to church, the process can be intimidating and it can be easy to think that you are the only one who has a hard time coming up with fun ways to invite, or that inviting someone to church will not impact their life. 

These are feelings that your congregation might be experiencing when it comes to Back to Church Sunday. 

So what is a good way to bring your congregation together and remind them that inviting someone to church can be impactful– and it doesn’t have to be scary?

The answer is video. The Back To Church Sunday videos relate with people in a way that brings them together and lets them know that others are most likely experiencing the same struggles and victories they are when it comes to inviting those that they love. 

The “Back to Church Stories” and “How to Invite” video are both videos that your congregation will be able to relate to while preparing for Back To Church Sunday. The “Stories” video powerfully demonstrates that inviting their friends to church can affect someone’s life and eternity. “Stories” gets them thinking about the specific people in their lives who they want to see come to church with them. The “How to Invite” video will have your church laughing and remind them that inviting people to church isn’t always easy, but that people are much more open than you think when you care enough to invite them. 

2) Videos are Memorable. 

Have you ever watched a commercial on TV years ago and still remember it today because it was funny, creative or inspirational? That is because video has the ability to inspire, motivate, entertain and make people laugh. And guess what? PEOPLE LOVE VIDEOS. 

That lasting impression is what you want for your members as they’re gearing up for Back to Church Sunday.

The “Back to Church Stories” and “The Reunion” videos tell engaging stories that your congregation will resonate with, while the Pastor Promo is perfect for your leadership team by showing the “why” behind Back to Church Sunday and explains how Back To Church Sunday can help your church be more outward focused and reach your community. The “How to Invite” video is bound to leave an impression on your congregation with Josh acting out different inviting scenarios in a crazy fun way that your congregation will not soon forget.

3) Videos Have Practical Applications.

Lastly, videos are important because they have many practical applications that people can take away from them. 

While videos are memorable and relatable, good videos have lessons and/or practical applications that can be used. The Back To Church Sunday videos are important to show to your congregation because they identify a problem (people in our lives are looking for hope and community that church offers), a solution (invite these people to church), and they equip your congregation to do that. 

The Back To Church Sunday videos will show your congregation why this movement is important and give practical tips on what to do (and what not to do) when inviting. In addition to this, these videos show real people’s stories and how a simple invitation impacted their lives. This allows those who watch this video to see that this movement is impacting people and that if they take the practical step of inviting it could change the entire course of someone’s life. 

As you can see, videos are important to use in preparation for Back to Church Sunday, but how do you use them in your church? 

There are four different videos that can be used in different ways to promote Back To Church Sunday. {INSERT IMAGE}

Back to Church Sunday Stories Videos

  • The captioned short versions are perfect to post on social media to get people talking about Back to Church Sunday.
  • The full-length version is perfect to show in your services in the weeks leading up to Back To Church Sunday to get people thinking and praying about who to invite.
  • There is a “welcome” version of the full-length video that is perfect to show at any of your church’s “Together” series service. 

How to Invite Video

  • The short versions are perfect to post on social media to get people laughing and create awareness.
  • The Top 5 inviting full-length version is perfect for showing your congregation in the weeks leading up to Back To Church Sunday. 

The Reunion Video

  • The “invite” version is perfect to post on social media, put on your website, and show in services to create awareness of the importance of community and being a potential game-changer in someone’s life by inviting them to church.
  • The “welcome” version is perfect to start any of your “Together” series services to continue to motivate people to reach out to others in their lives. 

Pastor Promo Video

  • This video shows the “why” of back to Church Sunday and is perfect to share with your ministry leaders and peers in ministry to cast the vision and get everyone on board. (Available in the Kit only) 

Conclusion

Ultimately, the power of video will bring your church “Together”, get your congregation excited for Back to Church Sunday and give them ideas to invite their friends, family, and neighbors to Back to Church on Sunday September 15th! You can find these Back To Church Sunday videos in the 2019 church kit or you can buy them separately, and start seeing your members become inviters as we invite America Back to Church one person at a time!

 

Together We Can Reach Our Cities for Jesus

Every church is the local expression of the Body of Christ.  As such, every church has the capacity to passionately address the issues of brokenness and loneliness that pervade our society.  The Church, as messy as it might be, is a beautiful place where people can come together to find wholeness, friendship, healing, forgiveness, guidance and love through Jesus and His people.  National Back to Church Sunday is celebrating this beauty with our 2019 theme, Together

In Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus we see this “together” theme emphasized again and again. In Ephesians 2 we are encouraged by the declaration that “together, we are His house.” Paul prays in Ephesians 3 that “together with all the Lord’s holy people” we could “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” In Ephesians 4 we see how we grow in strength together as Jesus “makes the whole body fit together perfectly.”  A powerful picture is painted for us in Ephesians 5, showing that together we can truly make a difference as we “live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” We come together in Christ as the Church, and that makes all the difference for each and every person that steps through the doors of your local church, finding a place they can call their own with a family that reminds them they are not alone.

We have been praying for every local church because we believe that, together, we can see an incredible harvest this fall through National Back to Church Sunday. Your church has the opportunity to join God in the work He is already doing in your neighborhood. We want to partner with your church to help you experience revitalization and growth as you mobilize your people to invite their friends to hear the life-transforming message of Jesus and experience the love and support of your church.  

Did you realize that, on average, churches that participate experience a 27% increase in attendance on National Back to Church Sunday?  This is incredibly significant. This means more of your people are having conversations with friends, neighbors and co-workers and inviting them to church where they can hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. This means people, many for the very first time, are being introduced to Jesus!  We have heard story after story of how celebrating National Back to Church Sunday has reinvigorated churches as pastors and lay people alike are encouraged by what God can do through their local church.

We would love to have your church join us as, together, we reach those who are far from God.  Here are three simple steps you can take now to begin preparing your church to engage your community for National Back to Church Sunday:

  1. Add your church to the map of participating churches – this allows visitors to find your church on FindaChurchnow.com and allows other ministry leaders know that you are participating. 
  2. Download the free resources we have to help your church impact your community and start planning your National Back to Church celebration, including the free full-color printed Engager invitations
  3. Challenge your people to pray about who God is leading them to invite and then take action and make that invitation
  4. Join the Back To Church Facebook group to share ideas and find inspiration from other pastors who have joined the movement.

Let’s rally together for Jesus and extend his hope and truth to our communities!