Most people are somehow under the impression that special days in a church just happen and that the preparation comes together on its own. Having a special day of any kind takes hard work and much preparation if it is to be effective.
Here at Lancaster Baptist Church, we have several “special” days throughout the year, but none of them compare to our annual Open House in October. This is a time when our church family strives together to see as many guests in attendance as we possibly can on the same day. Every year, hours upon hours of preparation are put into every aspect of this one special day, and by God’s grace, we have been able to see many first-time guests attend.
But it doesn’t end there. The week after Open House Sunday, we push for a big day in our connection groups. Some people assume that visitors will automatically come back the next week and get involved just because they were at the church the previous week, but ministry doesn’t work that way. Like my dad always said, “Blessings do not ride piggyback.” We cannot just borrow the momentum from a big day and expect it to carry through into our classes. Here are some ideas that can help us have a tremendous Sunday the week following a special day:
James 4:2 says, “…ye have not, because ye ask not.” Oswald Chambers said, “We can do lots of things after we pray, but we can do nothing before we pray!” We have all been guilty of trying to do God’s work in our own flesh from time to time, but we must remember that the arm of flesh will fail us. This is why we must have God’s power. We should definitely be praying individually that God will bless our efforts and bring guests into the class, but we should also pray as a class. Schedule a class prayer meeting and encourage your members to pray.
2. Make Sure Everyone on Your Roster Gets a Personal Visit
Sometimes as teachers we can get so focused on the people who are on the fringe, that we take for granted those who are faithfully attending our classes. We cannot just expect people to be there. Encourage the ones who haven’t been to class in a while and the faithful ones who come each week.
If you have a larger class and are not able to visit each member the week leading up to the special day, enlist some help from your leaders in the class.
3. Send an Email to Everyone
Send out an email about halfway through the week to remind your class about the upcoming special day and to let them know that you want them to be part of it. If you frequently connect with your class through email, try changing it up by using a graphic, sending a video, or somehow making it look different.
4. Send Text Messages
Use technology to your advantage! Show someone you care. The Bible says Jesus was “moved with compassion” when He saw the multitudes (Matthew 9:36). Send individual (not group) texts and let your members know that you have been praying for them and look forward to seeing them on Sunday.
5. Organize a Phone Call Campaign the Saturday Before
Never underestimate the power of a phone call. Have some of your members help by calling to remind people about the special day.
6. Mail a Postcard
Try to have some postcards printed specifically for your class. Put the information about the special day on it. Include elements like the lesson title, friendly fellowship, special refreshments, and whatever else may apply.
7. Provide a Prospect Card
Two weeks before the special day, have your members fill out a card with the following information for someone they know who could be a part of the class: name, phone number, email, and address. Also, include these four options that they can choose from: make plans to visit this person with me; contact this person and use my name; contact this person, but keep me anonymous; pray for me as I contact this person.
8. Knock on Extra Doors
If you want to have a big day, go soulwinning! Challenge your class to go, as well, but lead them by example. God blesses our obedience and faithfulness to go out.
9. Provide a Commitment Card
This card should say something like: “I ___________ commit to be the guest of ___________ on (date of special day).” Give them out in your class so your members can start to commit people to be their guests on the special day.
10. Have a Competition
You could give a $5 Starbucks gift card to each first-time guest. You could have a competition between the ladies and men. You could also have a focus on inactive members in the class. We recently challenged the leaders in our class with this. I assigned them a new care group and gave each leader an inactive member who hadn’t been in over six months. I told them to just pray for him and to ask God to allow him to be the difference maker to help that inactive member be an active member before we reshuffle our care groups again in the spring.
11. Supply Class Cards to Everyone in Class
Give out class cards (these are the same size as business cards and contain the name of your class, the time and location it meets, the teacher’s name, and anything else that is relevant) the Sunday before to your members so they can pass them out to neighbors or coworkers.
12. Prepare Your Class for This Day
Teach your class how to have a special day. Often your own class is as intimidated by first-time guests as first-time guests are by your class. If you are praying for first-time guests, you need to train your class how to treat those guests. Let your class know that you need them to greet guests intentionally, offer the guests a seat by them, sing when it’s time to sing choruses, and pay attention during the lesson.
13. Refresh Your Weekly Cue Card
Make sure everything you are doing is to the best of your ability. Evaluate what needs to be refreshed coming into your special day by asking yourself these questions: How do we currently run our class? In what order do we do things? Should anything be done differently? Should anything be changed or eliminated? Is anything awkward? Is anything irrelevant?
14. Print Extra Bulletins
We need to believe by faith that we are going to have a special day, which means that we should prepare for the harvest that God is going to send. Don’t print the same amount of bulletins as you normally do! If you do, you are basically saying to God that you expect nothing different to happen. If we don’t expect something different, it’s because we have invested no greater effort. Our effort should match our expectation.
15. Enlist Special Greeters
Train them how to greet first-time guests—smile, shake their hand, offer them a seat. Make your first-time guests feel like a million dollars and treat them like royalty. You may even need some greeters outside of the classroom ready to help first-time guests find your class.
16. Coordinate Extra Refreshments
Plan for extra guests and have your class members get involved. Don’t run out of coffee or donuts! Confirm with your class members the day before to make sure you are covered.
17. Prepare a Quality Lesson
Don’t be guilty of waiting until Saturday night to put together your lesson. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Be sure that you are prepared to stand and teach the Word of God and that the presentation is right. Also, make sure that the lesson is practical.
18.Have Extra Connection Cards
Make sure all first-time guests receive a connection card to fill out. This will enable them to provide their contact information. Get more members involved to help you get these filled out and turned in to the class secretary.
19. Follow Up
After a special day, we have an intense amount of follow-up. Visit each person who visited your class. Thank him for coming and see if he has any questions. Look for opportunities to share the gospel and lead him to the Lord.
20. Send Thank You Notes
Watch for people during the special day who shine in your class (greeting people, bringing visitors, serving refreshments, etc.) Look for those who help you make it such a special day. Thank them for catching the vision.
It’s important that we remember that special days don’t just happen because we write it on a calendar. Special days are exciting, but they require preparation, training, and follow up. Ask God to give you wisdom as you endeavor to implement these steps.