Big Days and Special Occasions
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 7 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How to Boost Your Church Attendance)
Big days are important in the lives of all Americans. Whether we like to admit it or not, we make much of big days and special occasions. Few are the families who do not get together during the Christmas season. Many thousands of us observe with joy the Thanksgiving season; Labor Day weekend also means much to Americans. We look forward with anticipation to big days, special occasions, long weekends and the holiday seasons. If this is so effective commercially and politically, then certainly it could be useful when carried into the life of a church. Many churches have found it advisable to use big days and special occasions with which to keep their people happy and aggressive, and to build their attendance. These days have been used effectively in places where I have been in Bible conferences and revivals. One church went from an attendance of 289 one Sunday to 1,080 the following Sunday! Many pastors and churches will testify to the help gained from the use of these and other suggestions for big days and special occasions.
This chapter is devoted largely to describing a number of the big days that we found helpful in our church program. Certainly no one person will agree with all of these occasions; and yet, if perchance a few might gain an idea or suggestion which will help their church work and increase their attendance, thereby bringing more souls to Christ, we will be grateful to the Lord Jesus.
Old-Fashioned Day is one of the most joyous days in our church. We do not set a specific attendance goal on this day, but we do try to have it on a weekend that would normally have a lower attendance than usual. For example, a good time for Old-Fashioned Day is the Fourth of July weekend, or the Labor Day weekend. We usually send out some sort of a mimeographed letter inviting our folk to the services on this day.
This day is filled with wonderful events which always bring a great deal of joy to our people. Let us note some of the things that we do on Old-Fashioned Day:
1. Collection of Antiques. After Old-Fashioned Day has been announced, and we begin to publicize it, we ask our people to bring antique items for display on the platform. Such items as old-fashioned churns, wash pots, spinning wheels, clocks, Bibles, curling irons and smoothing irons are brought and displayed for this special day. Many, many people have old-fashioned items which they like to bring and display. Then, on Old-Fashioned Sun-day, these items are taken one by one and shown and explained to the congregation. It is always a source of joy and enthusiasm when these items are shown and memories are recalled.
Especially is this good for the older people. In many of our churches the program is geared for the younger people so much that the older people are forgotten. On an occasion like this, it gives the older members of the church a real opportunity to participate, to be blessed and to have a good time in the Lord Jesus.
2. Pump Organ. In order to help us have the old-fashioned spirit on this day, we have an old-fashioned pump organ on the platform. The organist usually plays a solo on the pump organ. Also, the offertory is played on the pump organ, which lends an old-fashioned atmosphere to the service.
It is a good idea to have two organists available to play the organ. After "pumping" for a while, a member of this modern generation will tire of pumping an organ. So, it is good to have a "spare" in case fatigue overtakes the first organist. This also gives the people a little levity, which helps the service.
3. Hats Passed Instead of Plates. Someone is appointed in advance to be chairman of the "Hat Committee," and he secures enough hats to pass to take the offering on this day.
4. Mourner's Bench. Someone is appointed to be in charge of a "Mourner's Bench." Any kind of old bench may be used, with some old quilts thrown over it. The Mourner's Bench across the altar lends much to the old-fashioned atmosphere on Old-Fashioned Day. Remember, many people were converted at the old-fashioned Mourner's Bench, under a brush arbor or in a tent campaign. It will recall many memories to have the Mourner's Bench. In fact, every church should provide some kneeling place at the altar where sinners may come and confess their sins and talk to God in the altar of the church.
5. Creek Baptizing. When promoting Old-Fashioned Day make much of the Creek Baptizing. The church members assemble about 3:30 in the afternoon and form a processional of cars to a nearby creek, and the converts for that week are baptized in the creek. Pictures of the creek baptizing are always taken.
Sometimes it is good to secure a Model T Ford to lead the processional. A good time is in store for everyone, as well as a spiritual blessing in the old-fashioned creek baptizing.
6. Coal Oil Lamps and Lanterns. On Old-Fashioned Day the only lighting that is used is coal oil lamps and lanterns. About three weeks in advance of this special day, the pastor may appoint a committee to assemble enough lamps and lanterns to light the auditorium fairly well. These may be lit for the morning service; and then they also provide all of the necessary light for the eve-ning service. The evening service on Old-Fashioned Day is truly a blessing, as the people come and worship God, sing and hear the Word of God preached in an old-fashioned atmosphere with coal oil lamps and lanterns.
7. Old-Fashioned Costumes. Some may want to wear old-fashioned costumes, or maybe overalls for the men, on this day. However, in our own particular situation, it is unadvisable. We do, however, for the opening as-sembly of the Sunday school, have all of the adults assemble for a skit, using old-fashioned gay nineties costumes. The preacher wears a tall black hat, with cut-away coat. Other leaders in the church wear similar costumes. This is good only for an opening assembly and not for the regular service, as it would detract from the purpose of the service. This is a joyous occasion.
Costumes for this occasion may be secured from any costume shop and are certainly in keeping with the occasion. These costumes may also be worn in the Model T Ford on the way to the baptismal service in the afternoon.
8. Other Suggestions. Keep in mind during Old-Fashioned Day and other special occasions the idea of taking pictures. Numbers of the people will want to bring their cameras, some will bring movie cameras and can preserve the spirit of the day for future years. These pictures will certainly be a blessing as the years go by.
It is good for the song leader to select old-fashioned songs, for the pastor to preach a sermon on the old time religion and have some old-fashioned testimonies. This is especially good in the night service when the coal oil lamps and lanterns furnish the only light.
Old-Fashioned Day is one of the highlights of our church year. A number of people are converted on this day each year. God has been good to us on this wonderful day. There is not a day in the year when our people are happier in the Lord than they are on Old-Fashioned Day.
Of course, one must remember to keep Jesus in the center of it all, remember that He is an old-fashioned Saviour, with an old-fashioned Gospel, that will take people to an old-fashioned heaven and save them from an old-fashioned hell, by the way of the old-fashioned Cross, written about in the old-fashioned Book empowered by the old-fashioned Spirit of God.
Below is a sample of one of the letters which we mail to each member of our church and Sunday school the week preceding Old-Fashioned Day.
SUNDAY, JULY 14TH
Telephone, visit, or write your FRIENDS, RELATIVES and NEIGHBORS and invite them to be with us for Old-Fashioned Day, THIS SUNDAY!!
Be sure to come in time for Sunday school at 9:30 a.m.! In the Adult Assembly there will be a SPECIAL program, with the deacons in their overalls, the pastor and Brother Bill in old-fashioned suits, a display of old-fashioned items on the platform-good old-fashioned singing, and many other interesting things in store for you at SUNDAY SCHOOL! Plan to Attend Every Service This Sunday!!
Below is a wonderful piece of poetry (?) written by the pastor, which will tell you more about OLD-FASHIONED DAY.
A BREEF AND KORECK PEECE OF POITRI
Bi Edger Alin Po
I ain't much uv a poet, you kno,
I hav the hardes' tyme
Makin' the lions come out jist rite
An makin' the virses rime,
But Ole-fashuned Day iz hear again.
THIS SUNDAY iz the day
Whin we ditch this modernn stuph
And do the ole tyme way.
We're goin' to hav a mournir's binch
Wher folks kan kneel and pray
And git our kold harts rite with God
Just lyke the old time way.
Wee shud be verry dignafide
So miny peeple say,
But I'd ruther sing and shout "amen"
Az they did en yistarday.
We're goin' to hav an old pump orgin
For Mrs. Lions to pla
We're goin' to sing the old time songs
And preech the old time way.
I'm goin' to babtiz en the creak
Just like John the Baptist did.
Miny use a baptistri;
We're goin' to uze the creke instid.
We're goin' to burn cole oil lamps
And laturns on that day
Won't it be funn to wurshipp God
En the ole-fashuned way?
Bily Rosenbum iz goin' to sing
With the quartett duin' itz part.
They're goin' to sing that ole song
"I've gott that old tyme relijun in mi hart."
Yes, ther iz goin' two be lotz of funn
Down on Miller Rode
So kome to Sunday skul and church
And brink a hole kar lode.
THE CHURCH'S BIRTHDAY
Secure the birthday or anniversary of the church, and once each year celebrate the church's birthday. We have this big day in our church in March each year. Some of the things that we consider important on this day are as follows:
1. A Birthday Cake. Our birthday cake is usually a huge one. The most recent one that we had weighed over five hundred pounds and was quite expensive; however, smaller cakes may be used effectively.
One thing to note in making the cake is that you may make the cake appear to be much larger than it is by building a form and putting cake around it. Much of it may be wood with icing over it, which makes it look larger.
We have made it a practice each year to raise money to pay for the cake apart from the church budget. It has long been our conviction that the money given in tithes and offerings should be used for spreading the Gospel; hence, there are ways, such as special offerings, whereby money for the birthday cake may be raised. This is advisable in many churches where this idea has been used.
Another idea for the cake is that it may be designed in various shapes. One year ours was a cross and a Bible. The most recent and the largest cake that we have used was a replica of our church buildings. This was the most popular cake that we have ever used.
2. The Candles. One way we promote attendance on our birthday is by mailing a letter to each person enrolled in our Sunday school the week preceding the birthday. A small birthday candle is enclosed in each letter. Each member is asked to bring his candle to Sunday school on Sunday morning. The candles may be collected during Sunday school and turned in with the records. Then, they are all placed on the cake at the same time. Be sure that each child is mailed a candle. It gives an incentive to come to the birthday party, when they will have their own candles placed on the cake.
Many times attendance goals are set for each class or department. We have large candles available for each teacher or department who reaches the goal. At the close of the Sunday school hour, after everyone is assembled in the auditorium, just before the morning service, the teachers or superintendents who reached their goals are recognized. They light their large candles and place them on the cake. The candles are blown out by the deacons, as the congregation sings "Happy Birthday."
3. In the Afternoon. On our "Birthday Sunday" the church meets outside someplace in the afternoon, or perhaps in a community house, to eat the cake. The drinks are usually provided by some of the members or by a special offering.
It is a good time of fellowship as the members get together and eat cake, with some soft drinks. Usually we have so much cake because of the size that ours have been, that many members take home a pound or so with them.
4. Special Guests. On the church's birthday celebration it is always good to invite people who are acquainted with the founding of the church and the early days of the church's history, to come in to give testimonies about the church. Converts may also be recognized, as well as charter members.
This is not only a good day for remembering the history of the church, but also to make vows for the future.
5. Birthday Party Letter:
Please Come to the Big Birthday Party of the
Miller Road Baptist Church
This Sunday, March 13th,
You will have "loads of fun" if you will do the following:
1. Bring the enclosed CANDLE with you to Sunday school so we can put it on our huge 200 pound cake!
2. Be here, by all means, at 9:45 to help us reach our attendance goal of ". . . 1003 on the day we're 3 . . . ."
3. Be at the Community House at 5:00 p.m. where we will serve our cake.
4. Be in training union at 6:30 p.m. to hear Dr. Fred Schwarz, a noted authority on Communism.
5. BY ALL MEANS, be here in time for Sunday school . . .
SPECIAL RECOGNITION will be given in the preaching service to each class or department reaching their goal.
See you at the party . . .
BACK TO SCHOOL DAY
Another day which we make much of at our church is Back to School Day. This day is celebrated on the first or second Sunday after school has started each fall. Following are some of the ideas that we use for this day:
1. Personal Letters to School Students. The pastor writes a personal letter to all of the school students-one to each child, whether in the first grade or a senior in high school. In this letter he reminds them of Back to School Day in their honor the following Sunday, and invites them to come. He also reminds them of the special gift to be given to each pupil who comes. Of course, this special day has been publicized from the pulpit several times previous to the time that the letters are sent out.
This letter may be mimeographed; however, it is a good idea to leave the salutation blank so that each child's name may be written in longhand-for example, "Dear Sally," or "Dear John." Also, if possible, it is a good idea not to mimeograph the signature, but rather for the pastor to sign each letter personally. This makes the child feel that it is a personal letter, especially to him. Children, especially the smaller ones, have not yet heard about mimeograph machines. It will be like getting a personal letter from their pastor. Many children have been thrilled over receiving such correspondence, and you might be surprised at the increase it makes in the Sunday school attendance. Below is a sample letter:
MILLER ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH GARLAND, TEXAS
from the OFFICE OF THE PASTOR
September 10, 1956
Did you start back to school last week?? If you did, this is a "personal" letter from ME to You! I want to tell you about the BIG DAY that we are having in your honor at Sunday school and church THIS Sunday morning, September 16th!!
First, let me congratulate you on the step you have taken in starting the school year. Next, let me invite you to be SURE and be in Sunday school next Sunday morning at 9:30! Here are the reasons that I ESPECIALLY want You to come:
(1) I have a nice gift to give you. Every school student who attends Sunday school this Sunday will receive a nice gift. It will be something that you will want to keep something that you can take to school with you every day-something that we have never given away on back-to-school day before. It is a nice ball point pen with the name of your church and a verse of Scripture printed on it!! It will be a beautiful pen that you will enjoy using and will want to keep always!
THE ONLY WAY THAT YOU CAN GET ONE IS TO BE IN SUNDAY SCHOOL THIS SUNDAY MORNING AT 9:30!! It will be a daily witness for Jesus in school!
(2) We will recognize you in the preaching service. We want you to stand up so that the entire congregation can see you!
(3) I will be preaching a special sermon in your honor, and I want you to hear it.
DON'T FORGET NOW . . . THIS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16th, at 9:30 a.m.!! Hope to see You then.
I hope that you will have a good school year, that you will study hard and make good grades, and be a real Christian young person for Jesus.
Sincerely your pastor,
2. The Gifts. On Back to School Day each school child receives a special gift during the Sunday school hour. There are a number of gift items which may be used. One year we presented the students with little combs with a verse of Scripture on them, along with rulers. Another year we gave pencils with a Scripture on them. In more recent years we have given nicer gifts. For example, one year we gave tablets with the church's name at the top of each sheet, with a Scripture verse and "Jesus Saves" at the bottom of each page. Still another year we gave each child a ball point pen, with the name of the church, the pastor and a verse of Scripture on each pen. This is one good way to help the students in their witnessing at school.
3. Special Reserved Section. It is sometimes good to reserve a special section in the auditorium for the school children, if there is room for such. This makes them feel more honored. At any rate, they should be given special recognition in the church service.
4. Using the Students in the Service. It is good if you can use school students to take the offering, act as ushers, sing the special music, give a testimony and other things in the service which seem advisable.
5. Inviting the School Teachers. Something that we have not used heretofore, but which we plan to use next year, is the idea of having a special reserved section for all of the school teachers of the children. Insist for several weeks ahead that each child solicit the attendance of his school teacher on Back to School Sunday. Of course, this will necessitate having the day several weeks after school starts, perhaps near the first of October. Many teachers would be blessed and honored by such a service. Perhaps, also, the Gospel might be preached to some who otherwise would not hear it. If the teachers could feel the spirit of a warm, spiritual service, it would perhaps open their minds toward many churches which may be considered a little "narrow-minded" because of convictions. At least it would help the relationship between the school and the church.
6. The Sermon. The preacher may adapt his sermon to the school students, preaching such subjects as "Back to School with Jesus," "How to Live for Christ at School," or some other appropriate subject for the day.
Many school students may be reached for Christ through a special day like Back to School Day who would not otherwise come to Sunday school and the morning service.
Every church would do well to have Baby Day. This is a big day in our church and we usually have it in the spring. Many parents have babies who were born during the winter months and who have never been to church. The parents may be out of the habit of coming, and a special day in honor of the babies will get them back to God's house. Also, it serves as a time of dedication for the precious babies that God has given us during the past ear.
If your church is small, you may recognize and honor all of the children, three years of age and under. In large churches, however, only the small babies can be recognized -those who have not reached their first birthday.
1. Special Letter. For this occasion you may send out a special letter to the baby. Address it to the baby, tell-ing him that you have a corsage for his mother, and that you are having a special day for him. Explain to him that you are happy that he is here. Who knows but what it will be the first letter ever addressed to the new baby.
This is the letter we sent:
Each year in our church we set aside one Sunday to honor all of the children in the nursery departments of our Sunday school. This Sunday, May 5th, is the day for this special occasion-BABY DAY!!
We know that You will want to have your child present for this special day in their honor. Here's what we will do:
Immediately at the close of the Sunday school hour, bring your child from the Nursery Department into the AUDITORIUM. BEFORE the preaching service, there will be a PARADE of all the nursery children around the auditorium and across the platform. All babies who have not reached their first birthday will be introduced from behind the pulpit!!!
Little pink corsages will be presented to all mothers of little girls; little blue corsages to all mothers of little boys!!!
This is one of the sweetest days in our church year. DON'T MISS IT!!! This gives all of our people an opportunity to see and meet your baby. Many of us who do not have occasion to go to the nursery department miss the blessing of seeing the nursery children.
ALSO, it gives the people a chance to meet the nursery workers who faithfully care for the children each Sunday while we worship.
So, be SURE to have your child here THIS SUNDAY morning at 9:30 a.m. for Sunday school, and for the BABY PARADE immediately following Sunday school!!!
There will be a special place reserved in the auditorium for the parents of the nursery children to sit during the preaching service!!!
We are counting on YOU to help us make this the BIGGEST and BEST "BABY DAY" we have ever had!!!
2. The Nursery Workers. At the morning service special recognition is given to those who work with the babies all of the time. The nursery teachers in the Sunday school, as well as the paid nursery workers, should be recognized. Each worker is presented with a lovely corsage, as she is introduced to the congregation by the pastor.
3. Baby Parade. At the conclusion of the Sunday school hour, each parent goes to the nursery and gets his child, and brings him to the auditorium. The parents, with their babies, are lined up around the auditorium. After the nursery workers have been introduced and presented with their corsages, the pianist or organist plays "Jesus Loves Me" or some other appropriate song, as the parents "pa-rade" their babies around the auditorium. Each parent comes behind the microphone on the platform, shows the congregation the baby, and tells his or her name.
4. Corsages. You may present small corsages to each mother of a new baby-that is, mothers of babies born since last Baby Day, or who are less than one year old. Mothers of little boys may be presented with blue corsages, mothers of little girls with pink corsages. These may be bought inexpensively, and may be made of just one carnation and some ribbon.
These corsages may be presented to the mothers during the Baby Parade as they come behind the pulpit to introduce their babies. The paid nursery workers may assist the pastor or Sunday school superintendent in presenting the corsages, thereby saving some time.
5. Altar Dedication Service. After corsages have been presented to the workers and to the mothers, and the babies have been "paraded"-just before they are returned to the nurseries-each parent may bring his baby to the altar and the pastor may have a special prayer of dedication, for God to bless the life of each baby, that Jesus might have His will in their lives and in the lives of the parents.
It is also fitting to have a special musical number while the parents are at the altar, with heads bowed. There are many special numbers about children, or perhaps the music director might write one suitable for the occasion. The song may be sung first, after which the pastor may lead in the prayer of dedication.
6. Reserve Section for Parents. After the parade and dedication service, the babies are taken back to the nurseries, and the parents return to sit in a section of the auditorium which has been reserved for them. Have this reserved section as near to a door as possible, near the front. Many of the parents will have a difficult time getting their babies back to sleep in the nursery, and will be a little late in getting to the service. Hence, the nearer the reserved section to the door, the less disturbance will be involved as the parents return to the service.
7. Special Sermon. The pastor may preach a message on a dedicated child, or some other appropriate sermon in honor of children, trying to reach the parents for Jesus.
Homecoming Day is usually conducted in our church On the Thanksgiving weekend to help counterbalance the natural slump of this weekend. Because of the school holidays for this weekend many people will go Out of town. However, many, many of them will stay at home and invite their friends and relatives to spend the holidays with them, if there is something special at the church, We have found that our people respond well to days such as this, as they are many times able to reach lost loved ones for Christ in these special services.
1. Letters. We mail letters to each of our members, reminding them of Homecoming Day, telling them of the special features for the day, encouraging them to bring friends and relatives. A little artwork helps to add sparkle to the invitation.
2. Special Letter. A letter is sent to all former members who can be located, giving them a special invitation to be with us for Homecoming Day. A number of old-timers coming back to the services will more than overcome the loss of those people who go out of town for the weekend; hence, the attendance for the holiday weekend will stay high. There are many former members who would like to spend their holiday weekend visiting the church, if they are invited to a Homecoming Day or special service. Our Homecoming letter read like this:
The time has come again for our ANNUAL HOMECOMING DAY!! Each year our church family gets together for a great big "dinner on the grounds." THIS SUNDAY, November 27th, is the big day!
We will have our regular Sunday school and preaching service on Sunday morning; then we will go in a body to the Community House in the City Park, where we will all eat lunch together.
After lunch we will return to the auditorium at 3:00 p.m. for a homecoming service. Brother Joe Boyd will bring the homecoming message, and the Singing Spencers will render the special music.
Following is a list of important items for YOU to do:
(1) By all means, have your entire family in Sunday school Sunday!
(2) Contact any former members of our church that you know of and invite them to our services!
(3) Plan to BRING YOUR LUNCH and stay with us for the noon meal! DON'T be a "wet blanket" now and go home after the morning service.
(4) If you like, you may take your food to the Community House BEFORE Sunday school. Bring it upstairs where we will have a committee to receive it and arrange it on the tables. If you prefer, you may just bring your lunch with you as you come from the services Sunday morning.
(5) Just to make a complete day of it, plan to come back to the auditorium at 3:00 o'clock for the homecoming service to hear Brother Boyd and the Spencers!
(6) The nurseries will be open for those who want to leave their children 3 years and under until after the homecoming service!
The fellowship here at Miller Road is one of the sweetest in all the world. It will be to your benefit to take advantage of the opportunities of this Sunday. You will have the opportunity to fellowship with former members of our church, members of the Spring Creek Chapel, the Open Door Baptist Church and Eastern Hills Baptist Church (which were missions of our church).
Bring your FRIENDS . . . RELATIVES . . . NEIGHBORS! EVERYBODY is invited!
THIS SUNDAY-9:45 a.m.
3. Dinner on the Grounds. For several weeks prior to Homecoming Day our people are reminded of the services, and the "dinner on the grounds." Our own people are encouraged to stay for dinner, and are asked to bring a little extra to take care of our visitors. This is a wonderful time of fellowship.
We have found it advisable in our church to reserve the community house for our lunch in case of rain, cold weather, etc. This also gives a suitable place for the food to be left as the people come to Sunday school if they so desire.
4. Afternoon Service. After the "dinner on the grounds" and a time of fellowship, the people come back to the auditorium for an afternoon service. At this service the old-timers are recognized, and other special guests are introduced. A "sing-song" or a "singing" is usually advisable here, followed by a message from some well-known speaker. Testimonies as to what the church has meant to the lives of the people are also in order at this afternoon service, as well as introducing former pastors, etc.
PICTURE TAKING DAY
Picture Taking Day is usually conducted just before Promotion Day each year. August is a good time for this, as the classes will be promoted in a few weeks, and the teachers and pupils will want pictures by which to re-member their old classes and departments.
1. Letters. Sent Out. Letters are mailed to each member of the Sunday school the previous week, reminding them of Picture Taking Day. Be sure to tell why the pictures are being taken-and when!-and where! Invite the whole family. Following is a copy of one of the letters we have used for this:
We are going to publish a BIG PHOTOGRAPH BOOK entitled "The Miller Road Miracle in Pictures." This book will be much like a high school annual, with pictures and stories all about the Miller Road Baptist Church.
We want YOUR picture to be in this book. The pictures will be taken THIS SUNDAY, August 5th, which has been designated as - "PICTURE TAKING DAY"
Picture taking will start promptly at 9:30 Sunday morning - So dress all the children up in their "Sunday best," put on all of the "frills," and be here for this occasion! !
Each CLASS will have its picture made, and each Picture will be placed in our new book, which will be published in a few weeks. Copies of this book will be sold all over the country!!
DON'T FORGET . . Be here promptly at 9:30 with ALL the family, as pictures will be taken of EVERY person who attends our Sunday school THIS Sunday-from the smallest baby in the nursery-to the oldest Adult!!!
SEE YOU SUNDAY!!
2. Photographer. We secure a photographer to take the pictures-a professional photographer, if possible. How-ever, some churches find it advisable to use a member of the church who has a camera and equipment and is good at taking pictures. If the groups are small enough, this can be done easily.
3. To Create Interest. In promoting Picture Taking Day a good way to stir interest is to award free pictures to the department or class having the largest percentage of enrollment present. This challenges the teachers, as well as the class members, and results in a significant in-crease in attendance on this day.
4. Orders for Pictures. Announce well in advance the price for the pictures. Orders may be taken for the pictures on the day that they are taken, rather than waiting for proofs, then ordering. Each teacher or departmental superintendent should keep an accurate list of the ones who have ordered pictures, and indicate those who have paid. This list should be kept until all pictures are delivered.
5. Church Annual. We have thought it wise before to use these pictures taken on Picture Taking Day, and other pictures taken throughout the year on special occasions, in a church annual-much like a high school annual. This book may be sold to the members for a nominal fee to cover expenses. Former members and other friends might also be interested in such a booklet.
If this is done, by all means take the orders for the annuals before they are ordered by the church. It is a good idea to get the money in advance, also. This way, you will know how many annuals to order.
Picture Taking Day is always fun. All people love to have their pictures taken, and especially like to have them for remembering their classes and departments. This is a successful day each year in our church.
Picture Taking Day may be "stretched out." For example, the Miller Road Baptist Church has grown to such proportions that now we have a special Picture Taking Day for the nursery departments, another for the beginner departments, another for the primaries, another for juniors, another for intermediates and young people, and another for adults. This helps the attendance and creates interest for a number of weeks, rather than just the one Sunday. Too, it is difficult in larger Sunday schools for the photographer to successfully take each class in one Sunday.
If you do have a Picture Taking Day for each group, rather than taking them all one Sunday, be sure that you send out letters to each group the week before they are to have their pictures taken.
RECORD BREAKING DAY
This idea can be used effectively almost anywhere. This day may also be advertised and publicized through letters, in your church bulletin or from the pulpit. Get some phonograph records and display them on the platform, or some other conspicuous place in the church-over one write the words "SUNDAY SCHOOL," over another "YOUTH GROUP," over another "OFFERING," and any other church organization that you wish to "break the record." Announce what the previous record attendance is for each one, and then challenge the people to "break the records."
On Record Breaking Sunday, as each goal is reached, the leader of that organization must have the corresponding phonograph record broken over his head. These records are broken at the close of the Sunday school hour, just before the morning service; and at the close of Youth meeting, just prior to the evening service.
Each member will work hard to break all previous records in order to see the phonograph record broken over the superintendent or leader's head.
The general idea here is not to have any absentees in Sunday school on a certain Sunday, but to have every member present.
A letter may be sent out to each member with no "T's" in it, because of so many absent T's lately. Also you may want to send out a "T"-either a golf tee, a tea bag, or just a letter "T," asking each person to bring his T to Sunday school so that there will be no absent T.
My dear friend,
We cerxainly are hoping xhax you can be in Sunday school xhis nexx Sunday ax xhe Miller Road Bapxisx Church. Because of xhe Chrisxmas season and xhe large amounx of sickness, many of our people have been absenx for several Sundays. We wanx xo sxarx xhe New Year wixh a big boom in axxendance xhis Sunday. Plan now xo be in your place. Bring all of xhe children and lex's go over xhe xop for xhe Lord Jesus.
1953 was a banner year for xhe Miller Road Bapxisx Church. Our Sunday school grew by leaps and bounds. We are hoping xhax xhe same xhing can be said ax xhe end of 1954.
By xhe way, I guess xhax by now you are wondering why we have lefx oux all of xhe "T's" in xhis lexxer. THE REASON IS THAT WE HAVE BEEN HAVING SO MANY ABSENT "T's" LATELY, WE JUST DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH TO USE IN THIS LETTER.
DON'T BE AN ABSENTEE SUNDAY.
Sincerely, Your Pastor
Get some vitamin B-1, or some tablets containing vitamin B-1 at the drugstore. Send a letter to each member of the Sunday school, enclosing one of the tablets, asking him to take it so he can B-1 in Sunday school the following Sunday. A letter such as the one below creates interest and increases the attendance:
Enclosed you will find a little pill containing Vitamin B -1. Please take this pill so that YOU CAN B -1 of 2,000 in Sunday school at the
MILLER ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH on NOVEMBER 13th . . .
As you know, each year in November we set a "High Attendance Day" as a sort of anniversary of the growth of our church. Two years ago our motto was "From 44 to 444 in one year"; last year it was "From 44 to 1,044 in two years"; this year it is "From 44 to 2,000 in three years"! !
To encourage you to B -1 of this 2,000 on November 13th, the following features have been arranged:
(1) Mrs. Billy Sunday, wife of the famous evangelist of yesteryear, will be our guest and speak to us during the Sunday school hour.
(2) Billy Rosenbaum will sing again! As you know, Brother Billy has been at the point of death for 16 weeks, and has recuperated enough to sing in the quartet for the "Big Day." He will do this even though he is still taking his nourishment through a tube. I know you will want to be here to hear Billy sing!
(3) Another famous quartet will sing! This quartet is known as "The Big Four," composed of Brother and Mrs. Hyles and Brother and Mrs. Keys. They will sing during the opening assembly of the Sunday school!!
(4) A "String Ensemble" composed of four of our church members will play!
(5) A tent will be erected on church property and a Baylor University football player will preach to all the young people at 11:00 a.m. under the tent. He is BILL GLASS, 6 ft., 4 inch, 225 lb. tackle!
(6) During the opening assembly of Sunday school the Singing Spencers will bring us two numbers!
PLEASE, dear friend, take this tablet and B-1 . . . and BRING 1 for the
"BIG DAY" on NOVEMBER 13th . . .
GOOD NEIGHBOR SUNDAY
Ask each person to bring a neighbor as his special guest this Sunday. Anyone who brings a neighbor will receive a gift. For example, a nice Bible might be awarded to one who brings as many as ten, or twenty neighbors. A neighbor might be anyone who lives within a fifteen mile radius of the church.
Many good prospects are lined up on Good Neighbor Sunday. Let your members stand and introduce their neighbors in the service.
The sermon topic might be "Who Is My Neighbor?"- the Good Samaritan story, or some other appropriate sermon.
One of the most successful things that we have ever tried in our church is "Fruitful February." We cut down some medium sized trees and placed them in buckets of dirt, and placed them in the auditorium. One tree was called an "apple tree" to represent the Sunday school, another was a "pear tree" to represent the youth group, and the other was an "orange tree" for the midweek service. We covered the buckets or cans that contained the trees with red, yellow and orange crepe paper.
We mimeographed apples on red, pears on yellow and oranges on orange construction paper. On each apple, pear and orange there was a place indicated for the person to sign his name. These apples, pears and oranges were given to the Sunday school and youth workers to cut out, and it was their job to get everyone signed up who would promise to be in Sunday school, the youth meeting, and the midweek service every Sunday or Wednesday of the month of February. If they promised to be in Sunday school each Sunday of the month, they became an apple on the apple tree, and so on. These were signed up for each member of the family, and turned back into the office by the workers after they were signed. The apples, pears and oranges were then strung on the trees in the auditorium. It was interesting to see the "trees" fill with fruit as the people signed up to come each Sunday and Wednesday night of the month.
Use of this promotion of Fruitful February should be started four to five weeks early in order to build the attendance for the entire month. This is a workable idea for all age groups.
The people promise to come each Sunday and Wednesday night for an entire month. At the end of the month, most of them, after having been faithful to all of the services for four weeks in a row, have now developed a good habit and will continue to come.
Here is the letter we sent as a reminder:
JUST ARRIVED!!! OUR "ANNUAL" . . .
The "MIRACLE of MILLER ROAD in pictures" . . .
Many of you have been asking when this book would be ready-As you know, we had previously announced that it would be here Feb. 10th, BUT we are happy to announce that THE BOOK IS NOW READY, and will be available this Sunday, during the Sunday school hour, February 3rd!!!
The book contains pictures of the pastor and his family, Brother Harvey, the church staff, the deacons, ALL Of our BUILDINGS, and ALL of the pictures of the Sunday school classes and departments that we took on "Picture Taking Day"-plus many, many other pictures which you will enjoy and want to keep always. Interesting articles about the history and growth of our church are also contained in this book!! I know that you are ANXIOUS to get this book of "The Miracle of Miller Road" in pictures . . . . FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE . . . This Sunday morning-9:30 a.m.-February 3rd!!
This Sunday begins our
Have You . . . .
"Put an apple on the apple tree for Sunday school all month long
A pear on the pear tree says you'll be in Training Union with a song . . .
An orange on the orange tree says we'll see you every Wednesday night!!
So, get up a tree for a "FRUITFUL FEBRUARY" That's all right!!!
If you have not already "signed up" to be faithful to all of the services of the church, do help us have a "Fruitful February."
Enclosed with this letter you will find an apple which we ask that you sign (you may sign the whole family on this one apple) and BRING IT WITH YOU TO SUNDAY SCHOOL this Sunday.
We are counting on You to help us get off to a good start at 9:30 on Sunday morning.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL SUNDAY
It is good either at the beginning of vacation Bible school or at the close of it, to have a Sunday honoring vacation Bible school. On this day the workers may be honored, and the children who attended, or who will attend, recognized.
If this special day is held at the close of the school, the work and things accomplished during Bible school might be displayed for a general assembly in the auditorium. Also, the various Bible school characters that are used may appear before the parents. An interesting program in connection with Bible school may be worked out with a little planning. The parents are interested in the things their children do and learn at Bible school, and since many of them never get to work in the school, they do not have an opportunity to see firsthand what goes on at vacation Bible school.
This is good to have during part of the Sunday school hour, and not in the preaching service, as it detracts from the purpose of the service.
A good time to have a special day is on the Sunday nearest Christmas. On this Sunday a small gift of some type might be presented to each member, or to each family attending. We have found a good thing to give is a Scripture text calendar, with the church's name (and perhaps a picture of the church) on it. One year we gave a New Testament to each child present, with the child's name written on it in gold. This is easily done, as you may obtain gold foil from your office supply or art supply store, and the teachers may write the children's names in gold on the Testaments before they are given to the children on the special Sunday. Some churches permit a "real" Santa Claus to come and present these gifts to the children-other churches with different convictions do not feel it wise.
It seems that since many people go out of town for Christmas anyway, the day should be carefully planned in order to keep the attendance up.
There are many other suggestions which could be given about special days. The ones given here are only to whet your appetite-to help you think of some for yourself. The field is inexhaustible. Literally hundreds have been reached for Christ on these days. God has signally blessed them to His glory, to the saving of sinners, to the edifying of the saved, and to the increased joy of His people.
This chapter is not given to cause conflict in opinions concerning big days. Some will think the above suggestions are too sensational; others will perhaps add even more color to them. Please take what is usable for you, and use it to His glory.
More Life Changing Sermons by Dr. Jack Hyles:
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