‘Back to Church Sunday’ at North Tolsta Free Church 

North Tolsta Free Church celebrates its 75th Anniversary with a simple invitation.

By Rev. Donald Macleod 

To celebrate our congregation’s 75th anniversary, we recently organized our first “Back to Church” Sunday as part of our plan to gradually revitalize the congregation. We wanted to mark 75 years of God’s goodness to us by reaching out to our friends, family, and neighbours. 
Our preparations were simple. We spent about a month praying, both individually and as a congregation, focusing on “Back to Church” Sunday. We bought a simple banner for the cattle grid at the entrance to the village, and since North Tolsta is at the end of the road, every resident and visitor had the chance to see the invitation! We also gave out personal invite cards.  
Over the past year, we have been reminding ourselves about  ”Gospel-based optimism” – an optimism based on the promises of our eternally unchanging and good God, rather than on the situation as we see it or think it might turn out. In the Lord’s goodness, we had the chance to see the reality of Gospel optimism in action! 
Some of the congregation (the minister included!) were praying for two or three to respond to the invite and come out. Others were faithfully praying for more.  
We were praising the goodness of God – as we saw 13 new (and some long returning faces) over both services.  
It is not easy to come to church for the first time, and even more difficult to come back after being away for a while – so we were even more thankful for those who came out. We were then encouraged to see almost the same number out again the next week.  
The weekend also left the congregation encouraged, as we were reminded that often it is the simple act of a genuine invite that the Lord can use to bring people to hear the Good News.