Motorcycling bishops on breakfast TV? Helium balloons outside church? It can only be Back to Church Sunday!
As last year in the Watling Valley, BTCS is combined with harvest - which means that there is something definite to invite people back to. This is a good occasion to make contact those who have been involved through Christmas, baptisms or weddings - or who have just expressed an interest.
At All Saints, Derek and Ruth produced an extremely competent and professional service which demonstrated how a service can be both welcoming and meaningful. The children produced a fairtrade logo banner and dry/canned goods were donated for the food bank.
All in all it was a good event, and a few people did come back to church and hopefully had a worthwhile time. (All Saints' is frequently 80% full anyway, so further congregational growth is challenging...)
I note, however, that the real challenge of Back to Church Sunday is to listen to those who would like to come but for a wide range of reasons find it difficult. Some of these people simply need to be asked (and I wonder how many of the personal invitations were actually given out?) but others find the Sunday slot difficult, unhelpful or inconvenient - no matter how welcoming it becomes...
As Bishop Alan has been reminding us lately, a huge proportion of the population would like to come to church - but not necessarily when we are in it!
I've been thinking a lot about fresh expressions lately. These are forms of church which are created primarily for those who don't yet come. To a certain extent, our "seeker" focussed services already do this for some - but what about the rest? What forms of church do they need?