Every year after the National Back to Church Sunday (BTCS) celebration we reach out to participating pastors and ministry leaders for feedback. We send out a survey to learn how churches have leveraged BTCS to increase the engagement of their people and maximize their outreach to new families in their community. We listen for ways they have been able to encourage their people to live on mission. Every year churches share a number of responses with us, including creative ways they celebrated BTCS, the number of new people they reached, and suggestions or ideas for future years.
One question we always ask is if participating churches plan on celebrating Back to Church Sunday again. It is so incredibly encouraging for our entire team because 96% of pastors respond by saying they will! That is a powerful testimony to the effectiveness of BTCS. Here is a quick list of reasons why pastors love celebrating Back to Church Sunday.
- Impacts our church AND our community
The beauty of BTCS is that it has an immediate impact on your church by challenging your people to get engaged and invite a friend and it makes a difference in your city as your church reaches out. Over the past several years, participating churches reported that their worship attendance on BTCS was 26% higher than their regular average attendance.
- Creatively contextualize BTCS to fit any church, anywhere
No two churches are the same, and BTCS can be celebrated by any church, anywhere. We have had all types of churches participate in BTCS: rural, suburban, inner city, urban, online, multisite, small, mega, independent, denominational, mainline, evangelical, churches over 100 years old, churches planting on their very first day! Every church can contextualize BTCS to fit their church culture and their community. In fact we encourage churches to take the BTCS tools and make the celebration their own.
- Kicks off your ministry year with an outward focus
Most churches begin their ministry year in the fall. People tend to be settled in from summer vacations, kids are back in school, and life is back in a regular schedule, so the fall is an opportune time to lick off your ministry year. BTCS is the perfect way to be sure you begin your ministry year focused on your community and thinking about those who are outside of your church walls.
- Prioritizes praying for those who are far from God
Praying is vital in our life with God, and getting your people to be praying for others who do not yet know Jesus as Lord is the first step in helping them become disciple-makers. BTCS does just that, it challenges people to begin asking God who in their lives should they be praying for and blesses them with a burden for the lost.
- Provides a practical way to live on mission
One of the big questions we wrestle with as pastors is how to lead our people into living “on mission” and following Jesus’ example of reaching those who are in spiritual need. BTCS not only gets your people praying for their friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors, but it inspires them to take action and make an invitation. This is an initial (and very helpful) step in leading the people in your church to share their faith with others.
- Focuses the entire church on one goal – Everyone is involved as it creates an atmosphere of expectation
Pastors share that they love that BTCS draws everyone in their church –no matter their age or stage of life– together to focus on one goal: prayerfully invite at least one person to church. In the weeks leading up to your BTCS celebration your church rallies together, praying, sharing, doing community outreaches, preparing to welcome new people. This singular focus does something very special as it gets everyone involved, creating an expectation that God is on the move and that the entire church is engaged with Him.
- People’s lives are forever changed as they see people’s lives forever changed
This is one of the favorite reasons pastors believe so strongly in BTCS. We all know that a friend or neighbor’s life is forever changed when they accept Jesus and commit themselves to following Him. What we sometimes forget is that the person who invited that friend or neighbor, upon seeing them embrace Christ, is forever changed as well. If you really want to see your people get fired up for the Kingdom, watch them as they see God transform the lives of those people they have invited. Pastors have shared that BTCS has sparked revitalization in their churches as people begin seeing themselves as instruments in the hands of God.
- Celebrates the beauty and value of the Church
BTCS puts the Church on display as a powerful place to find meaningful relationships, both to Jesus and to others. We do not need to look far in our society to see the Church presented in a bad light. As you celebrate BTCS, you have the opportunity to share with your guests and your regular attendees why the Church is a blessing and an invaluable part of our discipleship journey. Yes, the Church can be messy, because the Church is made up of imperfect people seeking to follow Jesus. But the Church is beautiful… it is the local expression of the Body of Christ. The Church is a place where we can worship God, encourage one another, grow in our faith, and serve those in need. BTCS helps us remember, and remind others, that the Church is a blessing.
This is just a handful of the many reasons pastors and ministry leaders have shared. This is why Back to Church Sunday has become a vital part of the culture of so many churches. Many churches have been celebrating BTCS every year for 6, 7, 8, even more years, and look forward to it every year. What about you? What are your favorite reasons for being a part of the BTCS movement? Or, if this is your first year joining us, what do you hope to see God do in and through your church with BTCS? Join our Facebook group and share your plans, ideas and hopes for National Back to Church Sunday with us!