The first time we held a missions conference, I was greatly disappointed by the attendance at the Monday and Tuesday evening services. I had assumed that our people would come because I had announced the meeting and had excellent missionaries in attendance. I was wrong. Here are some ideas that have helped us get people out for the services that I hope will be a blessing to you:
1. A Foreign Lands Dinner
Several weeks in advance of the conference we announce that on a particular evening we will have a dinner before the church service and ask our ladies to make an international dish. Of course, some of them with various ethnic origins will make a dish from their homeland. When I announce the dinner, I often ask ladies in the congregation what dish they are going to bring.
2. A Dress-up Contest for Children
On another night, we encourage our children in sixth-grade and below to dress up in a costume representing a land where our missionaries serve. We usually have the children’s choir sing that night, so that the children get plenty of time on the platform in their costumes. We judge the costumes and give prizes to the best ones. Parents love to come see their children on the platform. It even helps to reach grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others.
3. A “Spread the Light” Service
The last night of the conference, we turn off all the lights in the auditorium and have each of our missionaries hold a lighted candle. We explain that these people have committed themselves to carry the Gospel into a darkened world. But in a large auditorium, a handful of missionaries does not spread much light.
Then we ask our young people who have surrendered to full-time Christian service to come stand with the missionaries and light their candles. Then we ask those who are going to make a commitment to faith-promise missions and by their gift help to “spread the light” to come light their candles and stand with the missionaries and the young people. By this time, nearly the entire congregation is involved and the light is greatly increased. It is a moving experience to see what can happen when others get involved in spreading the light.