By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Every Sunday morning, Christians everywhere make their way into their church of choice. Many others, for one reason or another, do not attend church on a regular basis.
As part of National Back to Church Sunday, a nationwide initiative across multiple denominations, Liberal’s Trinity Faith Church is inviting everyone to attend this Sunday morning.
Pastor Michael Miller said the initiative is simply a way of encouraging people to come back to church.
“With some people, the further north you go, because the winters are so bad that when summer rolls around, they’re gone,” he said. “Then there’s people who for one reason or another just kind of stop going to church altogether or haven’t thought about going to church for a while.”
Miller said along with some of the traditional contemporary worship, church-goers will get to watch two videos.
“One of the videos is a testimony of a lady named Christine Kaine,” he said. “She heads up an initiative. She works really hard at freeing people who are caught in slavery around the world, whether it be a child laborer or little girls and little boys that are caught in prostitution.”
Miller said the event is likewise meant to draw people into a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
“What He wants to create in them is a revolutionary lifestyle,” he said. “I’m not calling people to Christ so they’ll read their Bible more and attend church and pray, but that they see that God’s called them to something and is ready to fuel them for something that’s bigger than themselves.”
Miller said Koehn’s testimony is just that.
“She was unwanted as a child,” he said. “She was left at the hospital as an infant. She was abused during the first 12 years of her life, and yet, what Christ has done in her life is to radically transform her so that she’s actually reaching into other people who are in hopeless situations and bringing freedom to them, bringing deliverance to them. She works actively with churches in the United States to do that.”
Miller said National Back to Church Sunday is not used to increase a church’s attendance nor to get people to “act more religious.”
“What we want is for people to realize God’s got a plan for their lives, and that plan is something that is exciting,” he said. “It’s tailor-made for them, and it’s something that will impact and help other people.”
Trinity Faith is one of about 20,000 churches participating in the initiative, and the church is also hosting an activity starting at 5 Sunday evening.
“We’re going to have a picnic at Arkalon Park,” Miller said.
The pastor said Sunday’s activities are just the start of what he hopes will continue in the future.
“We have a dynamic kids’ program on Wednesdays that we’re going to invite people to,” he said. “We’re doing our kickoff this Wednesday in advance. That’s called Discovery Kids. Discovery Kids is for students between 4 and 12 years old. It’s not just us putting the video in, turning the video on and calling that discipleship. We’re actually engaging the kids in the different age groups to actively follow Christ and to see fundamental change in their own lives.”
Miller said many churches merely give their congregations more and more knowledge, but they should be seeking to do more in people’s lives.
“Their heads become bigger, and their hearts become smaller,” he said. “What we want is that they know more, but their hearts grow bigger.”
Trinity Faith is the only Liberal church participating in this year’s Back to Church Sunday, and Miller said he would like to see more local churches participating in future events.
“It’s really community-based thing,” he said. “It’s across denominations. More people catch on. More churches catch on. More people are encouraged to come to church. It’s kind of a coordinated effort. We’ll see a much bigger impact.”
Miller said Back to Church Sunday is tailor-made for churches, and it is not a profit driven initiative by a company that creates curriculum.
“So much of what is available is super-expensive, and it’s just hard for a lot of churches to afford something,” he said. “This was $59 to do this. We paid about $40 extra for some extra door hangers and some extra invitation cards, but that’s it. All my videos were pre-made. That was part of the $59. Insight on how to coordinate things with our youth and our kids, that’s all part of it. I was really impressed with it, and the board was really happy to see that, too.”
Miller said churches have two really great times to do outreach, and this Sunday fits into one of those.
“One is at the end of summer, the week or two weeks following Labor Day,” he said. “If you do anything before Labor Day, people are still thinking it’s summer, and you might only get half of your church to show up. That week or two weeks after Labor Day is a really awesome time. Easter is a great time as well.”
Today is the 12th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when planes flew into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and Miller said having National Back to Church Sunday this weekend helps fill a sense of urgency to help turn the nation’s eyes back to God.
“After 9/11, it seemed that people were gathering together, and they were praying,” he said. “There was increased fervor for God, and as things kind of calmed down politically, the general tenor of our nation has become colder toward the Lord. This is an opportunity to get people refocused on what’s really important. Our nation really needs revival.”
Miller said he believes things are being coordinated in the spiritual realm to bring the U.S. back to the hands of the Creator.
“God loves the United States,” he said. “He loves the people here regardless of whether their hearts are toward Him or against Him. He still loves us. He gave the nation of Israel umpteen chances. He’s giving us additional chances and opportunities.”
Miller said many people simply do not know the Christian heritage of the United States, particularly the Great Awakenings of previous centuries. He said America would likely not exist had it not been for the Great Awakenings.
“We would not have a United States if it weren’t for people like Whitfield and Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, people who are ridiculed now in the public arena, but in reality, they were the reason we have what we have,” he said. “They stirred people’s hearts to want to see a better day.”
Miller said prior to those Great Awakenings, statistics about homelessness, drunkeness and prostitution mirror what America is going through today, evidence, he said, that gives him hope for a return to a Christian nation.
“God in His grace came and moved mightily,” he said of the previous Great Awakenings. “That’s what we need again.”