About eight years ago, Christian Family Fellowship, GCI’s congregation in Jacksonville, Florida, began holding “Everybody Come To Church Day.” Though designed primarily to encourage all the members to attend on the same day, many members brought guests with them. And so the event was renamed “Friends and Family Day.”
According to senior pastor Marty Davey, in the early years the event drew 20 to 30 guests. But when the congregation began giving prizes to the member who brought the most guests, and the event was moved from September to October (cooler weather away from the busy beginning of school season), the number of guests began to increase.
Concerned that they wouldn’t have enough seating in their sanctuary, the congregation stopped offering the prizes. Nevertheless, this year about 75 guests attended! The event always features special musical presentations from the congregation’s outstanding gospel choir (pictured on stage above). This year it also included a youth praise dance (pictured below).
The goal of Friends and Family Day is to introduce guests to the church where their family and friends attend and to show them hospitality in a worship service and a meal that follows. This is done to foster good relations and unity in the greater Body of Christ (some guests are members of other churches) and to connect with unchurched people to help them begin a journey as disciples of Jesus in the fellowship of the church. Over the years, several people from the community have begun that journey at the event and now are active members of the congregation.
A highlight of Friends and Family Day this year was the baptism of one of the congregation’s young adults (pictured below).