Why I HATE Back to Church Sunday!

I know, I know.  Here I go getting all negative again.  Well, sometimes I just can’t help myself!

I am a pastor.  Pastor’s LOVE to see their church filled on Sundays.  I believe that every pastor I know has had the following thought:

“If everyone came to our church on Sunday who used to come to our church, we could have ____ in attendance!” (To fill in the blank, simply take your church’s current attendance and multiply it by about 2 or 2.5)

After 35 years of pastoral ministry, I have concluded that “Back to Church Sunday” is, at best, a big waste of time.  At worst, it can be destructive to the church.

To understand my reasoning, you have to first ask a very simple question:  Why are these people no longer coming to our church (or why are they coming so infrequently).  There are only a couple of answers to this:

  1. They are undisciplined and have not made regularly attending church a non-negotiable in their lives. If this is the case, do you really think that one special Back to Church Sunday will have any real lasting impact in their lives—even if they happen to attend that one service?
  2. They left the church because they are dissatisfied with something, or they are angry with someone. If this is the case, do you even want them to come back?!  Their discontent will spread like a cancer.  Writer Toni Ridgaway is exactly correct when she says in her insightful article Should We Pursue Those Leaving the Church?“Sometimes the best thing that can happen for the health of a church is for the right people to leave.”

Instead of chasing after people who have left our church, why not devote more of our resources into bringing more people into our church for the very first time?  For the most part, this will prove to be a much more fruitful investment.


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