Our children’s ministry was dying. We were averaging just over fifty children on Sunday morning in our city of 36,000 people. An average two riders were dropping off our bus ministry every year and soon would dwindle to nothing. I begged the Lord to help us change. My staff and I dug to find the source of our falling attendance. We had a great program, excited workers, and aggressive soul winning and visitation, but nothing seemed to help.
Other ministries were struggling also. Just fifteen years ago we saw over 600 attend our week long evangelistic campaign we call H.E.L.P. (Help Evangelize Lost People). Every year since we have seen a steady decline.
Then God gave the answer to our problem through a pastor friend. They had just concluded their Vacation Bible School and had a great turn out, much better than our church or any of the Ontario churches have seen recently. What was the difference? They moved their VBS to the evenings.
Our staff went to work talking to church members, bus families, and Sunday school children both current and former to see if an evening schedule would help. We found that a large percentage of our Sunday school children were at a different parents’ home every other week. They were staying up late on Saturday night watching television or playing video games then sleeping in Sunday morning. Some parents would take out their children all day Sunday. We discovered that social dilemmas were keeping many children out of church.
Then the Lord gave me this thought, “What if we went Wednesdays for our children’s programs?” Our church family is already here, we had a kids program available. The kids would be at the same home every week, they would be up, they would be fed, and their parents would be ready for the break.
After much prayer and planning we launched out into uncharted waters. We began Kids for Christ with a large group of dedicated volunteers. It requires a sacrifice of time—workers leave to pick up kids at 6 pm and won’t return from the drop-off until 9 pm. In the first month we heavily promoted the program by knocking on doors and passing out flyers, then we watched God bless.
In a year, our attendance more than doubled on Wednesday evenings. God has added to every department from kindergarten to adult. Children and young adults are saved nearly every week, and many parents of the bus children have started coming. Parents frequently stop our church vehicles in parking lots and ask if their kids can come to our program. Today we have to rent additional buses for pick-up and use two public school gymnasiums for our youth program. It took a lot of work, but it has electrified our church.
With God’s blessing on the Wednesday evening program, we changed our H.E.L.P. program to an evening program also. We have found that parents aren’t home during the day and babysitters are leery about bringing the children to a “religious” program. Many kids are already involved in city run programs during the day. Again we have seen more people reached through the evening program than our former day time program.
In a day when many churches are struggling just to maintain we are seeing growth across the board. Only what God has done through our Wednesday night programs can explain it. In a changing day, we need to hold our doctrine, but inspect our strategies for outreach and programs.
If you would like more of the details of how we organized, launched, and maintain the program, we would love to send you a complimentary booklet we have compiled. Just write to:
We Went to Wednesdays
Bible Baptist Church
320 Highbury Rd.
St. Thomas, ON N5P 0A5