Last week, I wrote about the 9 reasons why your church should make the most of ‘big days’ for growth. And I told you that ‘big days’ have been very instrumental in Saddleback’s growth over the last 40+ years. We’ve learned the art of pyramiding growth through special days.
But how? How do we maximize those big days for all they’re worth? Here are nine ways.
1. Plan your big days around your main worship service.
You might host other special events, but if you’re hoping to enlarge your main service attendance, then you will get the most benefit out of big days if they are planned around your existing, primary weekend service(s). It’s very difficult to try to get people who attend a special event during the week to become part of your weekend service.
2. Plan big days on a naturally high attendance day.
Have your big day on a day when people are most likely to come anyway. They include without a doubt Easter, Mother’s Day, and Christmas Eve. Those are a few of the most natural times that people will come to church. One of the things we do on Mother’s Day is we have a number of photographers in our church so we take pictures of people. We have them stand outside and do snapshots of families and if they come back the next week they can pick it up for free.
3. Prepare prayerfully for big days.
On the first three big days, we did direct mail campaigns in connection with them. We hand addressed the envelopes and I instructed the people, “As you are hand addressing the envelopes say a short prayer for that person.” Basically, we prayed for everybody in the Valley while we were sending out the mail. That in itself would bring revival. If you prayed for everybody in your community while you’re writing out the name just say, “Lord, I pray that this person would come to know you if they don’t know you.” That’s simple and that’s a prayer preparation.
4. Plan special music for big days.
If you’re in a smaller church, you may feel that you don’t have a pool of talent from which to draw, in which case I recommend that you bring in special music. Make sure that your music on that big day is top-notch. Another really great addition to a big day is a video with short testimonies, like a five-minute advertisement with testimonies and people saying this is where we’re from, this is where we’re going, this is our past, this is our goal.
5. Have special guests on big days.
There are some Christian speakers or musicians whose fees may seem high but they usually pay for themselves. Every person that we’ve had who has a name recognition has paid for themselves including Andre Crouch, Lisa Welchel, and Jose Henriquez who survived the Chilean mine accident. Every one of those people paid for themselves. I would suggest if you do have a special guest, make sure you match your audience. A special guest is never the main part of the service. You have them come and share and they have drawing power but they are never the main point.
6. The pastor always preaches on the big day.
Never give your service entirely to somebody else on a big day. If you do, you will defeat the purpose of it. You can use a group or testimony to attract people to your church but never give up your pulpit. On a big day, we do everything we would normally do plus the addition of some special music or testimony from a guest we’ve brought in. I preach a normal message and I always start a series. We want people to like what’s normally there. If the whole thing is special and it’s not your normal service, then it has no drawing power to bring them back. Make sure your guest speaker understands that they’re given ten or twelve minutes of the service, not the main event.
7. Advertise adequately.
Use print media, traditional media, and social media in the balance that is right for your church. The entire ad is about the series we’re launching on the big day and then at the bottom, we might put “Special Guest: ___________”. The guest often has a name recognition, we don’t even put a picture. The whole ad is not about the guest but about the series.
8. Consider having a special program for kids on the big day.
Determine what your ratio of children-to-adults is on a typical Sunday and then anticipate the extra kids you’re going to have based on that ratio. If you do the normal children’s ministry program, you’re going to tax your volunteers and resources more than normal, so consider doing something a little different that allows more kids to be together in a larger group.
9. Be sure to do an adequate follow-up.
Determine in advance how you’re going to follow up with people who visit for the first time, who make decisions for Christ, who request prayer or more information. Have templates prepared in advance and volunteers ready to send letters, cards, emails, or whatever works for your congregation. This is a matter of preserving the fruit of all the labor that your church puts into the big day.