There are many approaches to Back to Church Sunday. From polished videos produced by the U.S.-based Back to Church Sunday organization, to newspaper ads to simple homemade potlucks and personal invitations to friends and neighbours.
In Edmonton, the Rev. Nick Trussell of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, who has been co-ordinating Back to Church Sunday efforts, says many parishes were planning to keep it simple and emphasize personal invitations by parishioners.
“It’s about the one-to-one invitation,” Trussell says.
In Crapaud, P.E.I., church warden Connie MacKinnon says that such Back to Church Sunday efforts have helped to rebuild the congregation of St. John the Evangelist after it split away from a three-point parish and became a stand-alone church.
Three years ago, a core group of 14 parishioners “pulled out all the stops” for Back to Church Sunday-delivering invitations, putting up posters, scrubbing the church from top to bottom, polishing the brass, planning special music for the service and a potluck for after the service. Their efforts were rewarded with a turnout of 126 people, some of whom continued to attend. The average Sunday service now attracts about 45 people.
Parishioners’ personal invitations have been a part of that success. MacKinnon recounts running into a friend she hadn’t seen in a long time at a Walmart last year. In the course of the conversation, MacKinnon ended up inviting her friend to Back to Church Sunday by saying, “Oh, by the way, we’re having a special church service on Sunday. If you’re not doing anything, why don’t you come along?”
Sure enough, the friend showed up and has become a tremendous asset to the congregation.