We often bemoan the fact that our churches, aren't in general as full as they once were. That's not to say that new people aren't joining, because new people come to faith all the time. However we all know that lots of those who were regularly in the pews a few years ago, now are no where to be seen on a Sunday. There are lots of reasons for that, not least the secularisation of our society and the loss of the sacred nature of Sunday. Its interesting to note that numbers attending Polish masses in this country have dropped greatly (faster than the speed of return to Poland), and the Polish priests blame this on the fact that the young people who were fervent in their practise of the faith and attending mass, have been influenced by the society they have come to live in !
We all know someone who is no longer attending church regularly, and we have not got to be complacent and say "O well that's that then". Often they are just waiting to be asked back. They maybe feel that they have been away too long, taking that step back into what was so familiar once, is now a step into the unknown.
The Catholic Church runs a "Come Home for Christmas" campaign each year and this focuses on sending or giving postcards to those who are lapsed with the service times on. Statistics show that 1 in 7 of those cards results in someone coming along to Church who wouldn't have otherwise. Research also shows that a good number of them, come again and some become regular attendees again.
The same must therefore be true of this weekend's Back to Church Sunday. We are encouraged to try and bring someone who has been away from church attendance with us this weekend. The aim of course is that they will come again next week or in the near future. One trap not to fall into this week though, is to put something special on, in terms of the service. It's no good them enjoying what they see and experience this week, and then finding when they come back that what they saw isn't the norm. We have all got to accept that people may need to "shop around" to find worship which appeals to them ( and there is certainly plenty of choice in Frome ) it may be that they come back to church this Sunday at one place and then go somewhere else next week. This is as much of a success as them joining our congregation.
Do try and bring someone with you this Sunday and ensure that the welcome any returners receive is a warm and genuine one. They need to know that we accept them "as they are"