Sunday, 29 July 2012

Nothing Draws a Crowd like a Crowd!

They say nothing draws a crowd like a crowd... I bet you, if I stood out in the street with a few of you looking up at the sky pointing at and talking about something 'up there', people would begin to stop and look, wondering what was going on.

Similarly people are drawn to good news. Whilst many 'rubber neck' at a car accident on the motorway, we are repulsed by it. We actually don't like bad news.  When something good is going on in a community, news travels and people want to discover the truth of the claims they have heard.

As we read the Gospels, the good news of all that God is doing in Jesus travels, and people come in their droves to make up their own minds.  Are the miracles, the healing, the teaching that people have heard about all that they are cracked up to be? Come and see...

The same is also true as we read the stories of the earliest church in the Acts of the Apostles.  People are drawn to what God is doing in and through the lives of ordinary people - and the church grew because through them, others encountered God for themselves and were encouraged to follow and find out more.

God is still doing good things in and through His church and through the ordinary people who make up our congregations week by week. But as our Bishop Paul Bayes said recently,

"...We know there are at least 3 million people in England who would come back to church if they had an invitation. And we know there are hundreds of thousands of Christians who want to invite their friends."

On 30th September this year, we join many other parishes in the Church of England in inviting people back to join us for worship.

Back to Church Sunday has grown beyond all expectations since the first day in Greater Manchester in 2004. It is now the largest single local-church invitational initiative in the world, taking place in churches across denominations worldwide.
Seeking to unlock the potential in personal invitation, Back to Church Sunday is an opportunity to act together each year and take the simplest and shortest step in evangelism; inviting someone we already know to our church.  Back to Church Sunday has, and continues to have, a significant impact. Not only does it see tens of thousands of people come back to church on one Sunday in September, but it also sees many becoming regular attenders and active members of their local churches.

To make this work we need you! Soon in our churches will be some invitation cards. We ask you to think and pray about one person or one family that you would like to invite back on 30th September. Then in early September, take an invitation card, fill it in by hand, and take it round to the house of the person you'd like to invite. Ring their doorbell and as k whether you can come in for coffee.

Over your chat, tell them about the service on 30th September and ask them to come with you to church on that day. 'It's going to be good. I am going. Please will you come with me.'  Arrange to meet them at their home and come to church with them. Sit with them during the service and introduce them to others at the end of the service over some refreshments. It's really that simple. No scary bits. No complicated theology. Just the simple invitation to come with you to discover or rediscover Jesus for themselves.

In case you doubt how how worthwhile this is, here are some good news stories from across the church following Back to Church Sunday 2011:
'...I was thanked for sending the invite and told, “I have wanted to come back for some time and this just gave me the nudge I needed....'

Most noticeable was the increased number of children, which changed the atmosphere of the church.

'...She wouldn't let me not come!  I really enjoyed it.  Now that I'm back I will keep on coming”- the comment from the neighbour of a church member. The church member was 90, so no-one is too old to make a difference to someone else...'

Most of those who came back are now still coming, some weekly!

'The increase was about 50% or more on the usual congregation. One lady reported she did not like church but 'really enjoyed this.'

One man said, “If church is as good as this every week than I’ll be back.” He has been every Sunday since.

There is now a buzz about the simplicity of inviting others to come Back to Church. It has been great to see people praying for and inviting their friends and neighbours.

For one person, the invitation was something they had been waiting for.

One lady who came on Back to Church Sunday has remained with us all year and has become more involved in the life of the church.

Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd - please pray for one person/one family, invite them personally, come with them, help them meet others, because as you do, you are helping them meet with God Himself!

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