September 13: Back to Church Sunday

August 10, 2009 by

We thought new years, Easter, the first Sunday of fall and Christmas Eve were the best times to invite a friend. Did you know that September 13th is Back-to-Church Sunday?

MMI reports that Outreach, Inc. is looking to organize September 13th as the day to invite unchurched and de-churched friends to join you at church. They cite various statistics–82% of the unchurched would attend if asked, only 2% of attenders invite friends each year, etc.–that make the point that what we really need to invite people to church is a marketing campaign and rallying cry.

I don’t know that I buy into the need for a new church holiday to bolster attendance. What are your thoughts?

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Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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13 Responses to “September 13: Back to Church Sunday”

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    August 10, 2009

    I don’t know about another specific church day, but those stats are pretty damning: 82% of the unchurched would come to church if asked, and only 2% of church goers actually invite people. Ouch.
    A day to bring attention to these stats is fine, but let’s invite people year-round.

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  • Kirk Livingston
    August 10, 2009

    What if we had a church holiday where we closed the building and sent everyone out to be salt and light in their city? What if we asked them to give whatever they were going to put in the offering to whatever good thing that struck their fancy as they walked the streets–and to pray as they go? That might increase church attendance.

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  • Jeremy
    August 10, 2009

    If I were unchurched or de-churched, that sounds like the last day I’d want to go. Couldn’t we have a Q&A Sunday where instead of a sermon folks get to ask about whatever keeps them home Sunday mornings?

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  • Adam Rushlow
    August 10, 2009

    My church did this growing up and called it Friend Day. Christians, heck, all people, are goal-oriented, and our Pastor used to set the goal of doubling attendance that day once a year.
    Out of that initiative, we saw several families become members and a core part of our church body. Setting goals isn’t a bad thing.

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  • Geoff in CT
    August 10, 2009

    The 82% of unchurched who would attend if asked doesn’t seem realistic for New England based on my personal experience. Many people around here say they would be embarrassed if people knew they attended church.

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  • Kennedy
    August 10, 2009

    In the UK this has been a very successful programme with national marketing support and news coverage. See

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  • Hal
    August 11, 2009

    This illustrates one of the biggest problems with western Christianity: we think the goal is to get people to come to church.
    What if instead we encouraged the church to go to people?
    Seems to me that church attendance is a byproduct of a changed life, not the catalyst for it.
    Maybe the reason church attendance is poor is that the world looks at churchgoers and–apart from conservative politics and “good morals”–they don’t see much difference between churchgoers’ lives and their own. They see that churchgoers live basically the same lives they do, in pursuit of the same life’s goals; churchgoers just go about it in a more moral fashion.
    Maybe it’s time for us to BE the church, rather than just invite people to it.

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  • bob wilson
    August 11, 2009

    don’t know if it will bolster attendance but it’s sure to bolster Outreach, Inc.’s bottom line.

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  • Marc Aune
    August 12, 2009

    I like the idea of a big group initiative, since mob mentality usually works. I wonder, though, how it will feel to be visitors that day. Will they feel manipulated? Tricked? Perhaps those participating are better off to mention up front what the purpose of the day is and to emphasize that any intimidation they might feel should be low because of all the other “unchurched” in attendance. (It reminds me of those 1-800-DENTIST commercials that stress how you won’t be judged and it’s okay if it’s been a while. If I needed a dentist, I’d call them.)
    By the way, isn’t “unchurched” one of the most ridiculous terms in Christian-eze? And I hadn’t heard “de-churched” before this article. I don’t know which one is worse.

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  • Sandy
    August 17, 2009

    They already have a “holiday” for the church going out–it’s called Faith in Action Sunday on Oct. 11 sponsored by…Outreach Inc.

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  • simon
    September 9, 2009

    not sure why we’re being encouraged to invite people back to a church that they have left, moved on from or got fed up with. surely we should be asking questions why they left in the first place!
    it’s more like back to church you-left-a-while-ago-and-no-one-bothered-to-ask-why-you-left sunday.

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  • Outreach Ideas
    December 11, 2009

    Wow, those statistics are frightening! It tells me we are not doing our job. What is worse is that it tells me the decline of Christianity isn’t because the world doesn’t care… it is because we don’t!!!

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  • Lee Picton
    January 4, 2010

    I only went to church (because I had to) until I left home for college. I was a wishy-washy agnostic, but when I finaly went through self examination, I realized I was really an atheist, and have been happily unchurched ever since.

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