‘Drift’ Back to Church
Jessica Hawkins is one of the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who attended a Back to Church Sunday church in 2011.
A 30-year-old mother of three, Hawkins had drifted away from churchgoing and quit attending the church she had grown up in. She felt a spiritual emptiness and a “lack of open arms” at that church.
Then one fall day in 2011, she received an invitation to attend National Back to Church Sunday at Life in Christ Fellowship in West Jefferson, Ohio. Hawkins says she was “just overcome by the Holy Spirit” at Life in Christ Fellowship and felt a divine tug to rededi-cate her life to Jesus. She did, and now she and her children are regular attendees. “My children were very excited,” Hawkins says. “It’s a lovely, upbeat, very friendly and open atmosphere. I just remember kind of feeling the need and pull to get back to church.”
Scott Polley, pastor at the 80-member church, says attendance at Life in Christ nearly doubled at the event last year, and a number of people, including Hawkins, rededicated their lives to Jesus and are now regulars.
“It’s a phenomenal, door-opening opportunity for us,” Polley says. “It’s a nonthreat-ening way to invite people to church. It’s like a big family reunion.”
Every September, thousands of churches nationwide join the Back to Church Sunday movement to reach the unchurched and dechurched in their communities. Participating churches have consistently experienced attendance growth that continues long after the event. More than 7,600 churches from 34 denominations drew 250,000 visitors for Back to Church Sunday in 2011.