Back to Church Sunday promotes new and relational evangelism opportunities for IEAB

For the first time, the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil took part in a worldwide initiative called “Back to Church Sunday.” This project, which started in the Church of England Manchester Diocese, now challenges several church bodies around the world with the simple proposal to invite people who don’t attend any church to visit a church community on a given sunday.

In Brazil, the project was officially held on September 26th, but some churches in particular chose to postpone it, só it would match other celebrations. Thirty churches of different sizes joined forces in inviting thousands of people for Back to Church Sunday. Due to geographical constraints and lack of resources among some of the participating churches, IEAB chose to adopt a more flexible approach regarding cards and invitations. Graphic files were available online and churches were encouraged to locally produce their own printed versions of it, either black and white or in color.

Participating churches had an average attendance increase of 30% on Back to Church Sunday. These communities will be monitored by the project’s coordination for the upcoming months, in order to find out if they had long-term growth. But to many, more important than net results was the encouragement of the faithful to invest some of their time in evangelism. According to Morôni Azevedo de Vasconcelos, a parishioner of the Church of Good Jesus in Rio de Janeiro, the project managed to mobilize more people to work with goals and timelines for intentional evangelization. “When all commit themselves to bring at least one person to church on a given day, the faithful take the challenge to overcome their own shyness and their fear of being rejected, and the results we have seen só far were great. We had full churches on the day and even on the following Sundays.”

The experience of welcoming visitors and people’s participation in such an endeavor was also important to the Rev. Ana Maria Esvael Lopes, of the Church of the Crucified, in Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul. Her suggestion, which echoes other people’s, is to promote “Back to Church” more than once a year, adapting it to the main feasts of the Christian year. According to the Rev. Canon Francisco de Assis da Silva, General Secretary of IEAB, this experience was fruitful in that the people of God rediscovered their missionary vocation. Now, he says, “it is time to move forward, welcome more people, and use their gifts in the Church for the growth of God’s Kingdom.”

Some pictures of the event throughout the country can be seen here:

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More photographs can be seen on: http://picasaweb.google.com/devoltaaigreja2010

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Luiz Coelho

Communications WG Member