BRANDON — Sometimes, all it takes to get families back in the pews is an invitation. At least that’s the theory behind the movement called National Back to Church Sunday, which takes place Sept. 15.
Several churches in Eastern Hillsborough County are participating in the nationwide event, meant to help churches reconnect with the community. More than 20,000 churches are expected to participate.
Journey Church will have a crew decked out in special blue shirts to greet newcomers visiting the campus at 1310 John Moore Road, which it shares with Christ Community Church and the Korean Presbyterian church called Dream Church.
Welcome stations will provide breakfast sandwiches and Starbucks coffee.
Inside, Pastor Dan Reid will talk about the family friendly atmosphere his congregation provides, as well as the small-groups ministries that meet throughout the week.
“We want the community to know we are there for them,” Reid said. “This is typically the time of year when people are considering getting their families back in to church, so it’s a good time to reconnect.”
Members of Journey Church printed flyers and delivered them throughout the community, Reid said.
“We did participate in this previously, but we’re trying harder this time to connect with the community,” he said.
The service at Journey Church begins at 9 a.m. A casual evening program of fun and games and food begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday and all are invited.
At Bell Shoals Baptist Church, 2102 Bell Shoals Road, greeters will carry red umbrellas. Guests will get a cup of Starbucks coffee and a gift when they arrive. And if they visit the Ministry Expo to learn about the various programs the church offers — including sports for kids, English as a Second Language, grief counseling and more — they could win a gift card to Target or Walmart.
Every guest will receive $3 off at one of several food trucks that will be stationed on church property after each sermon, said church spokeswoman Debbie Weisemann. Services are scheduled for 9:15 and 11 a.m. with a Spanish-language service in the chapel at 11 a.m.
“A lot of people went to church when they were younger, then got busy raising their family and such. They come back and find that church has really changed,” Weisemann said. “There are a lot of programs that can really be an asset to people’s lives.”
What the Bell Shoals family hopes to accomplish with participation in National Back to Church Sunday, she said, “is to show that the church is here to stand by and encourage them and point them in the right direction.
“Our whole focus is to encourage you and point you to a God that loves you with all of his heart,” she said.
For a complete list of area churches participating in National Back to Church Sunday, visit http://backtochurch.com, then click on Find a Church.