What children’s ministry doesn’t want to double your Sunday school attendance? We all do! Here’s what we did.
For Double Day, our goal was for every child (who possibly could) to bring one unchurched friend to Bible Zone (our name for children’s Sunday school). We didn’t want to focus on who could bring the most kids — just one. There weren’t prizes for the classrooms that had the largest number of kids present. There wasn’t even a numerical goals. We wanted to focus on each person thinking about one person. We did keep a record of who each child was bringing, which served as an encouragement and motivator to each classroom to get busy.
We kicked off our efforts to double our Sunday school attendance with a rally several weeks ahead of Double Day. The rally was all about friendship because the sad thing is that many of today’s boys and girls don’t have real friends. Nor do they know how to be a friend. I presented a segment that was titled “Famous Twosomes,” which included Batman and Robin, Laurel and Hardy, Kermit and Miss Piggy, Starsky and Hutch, Andy and Barney, Adam and Eve, Bert and Ernie, Pinky and The Brain, Joshua and Caleb, and Jonathan and David. It centered around the theme Two Are Better Than One, found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. I gave the characteristics found in the Bible of making and being a friend; for example, “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).
The rally also included great music, worship, and humor. We tried to present this in a simple, age-appropriate way, free from church and religious language.
To conclude the rally, we introduced the concept of Double Day, which gave kids a way to demonstrate what they’d learned about friendship. Honestly, the children were pumped up at that rally. As a matter of fact, my leaders were pumped too.
The novelty of Double Day was asking each child and guest to dress like twins. This was so hilarious. I also asked couples who taught together in the children’s ministry to dress as twins that day. We took a picture of each set of twins and displayed them for all to see.
Over 60 percent of our children brought someone. Do you realize how successful that is? That increase in Sunday school attendance is unheard of and almost impossible with today’s busy families. One little boy brought his unchurched dad to his class. Not only did we see our largest attendance ever on a Sunday morning, but the beautiful thing was watching children begin to value others in a more mature way. To become the type of friend that God wants them to be they had to deal with their attitudes of selfishness, criticism, and fear.
This is often an element that churches overlook when it comes to trying to increase Sunday school attendance. After doing all the work beforehand and seeing the numerical results, it seems as if the project is now complete. However, if we don’t make personal contact with each new child/family who attended, we give the message that we’re an “event” church, not a “people” church. This is just the opposite of what we worked so hard to teach our children leading up to the event.
Our Bible Zone leaders and volunteers tried to visit as many homes as possible that Sunday afternoon. Because of the large number of visitors who attended, we planned a churchwide outreach night, asking our staff, evangelism teams, families of children, and church members to help us make visits. In addition, every visitor received a phone call and postcard the following week. Plus, we reminded children to each invite their Double Day friend to other church activities. These visitors also received future mailings regarding our children’s ministry activities.
This high-attendance event had twice the meaning as others we’d done previously. It was successful numerically and spiritually. Oh, and did I mention that it was twice the fun and half the work?
Art Murphy is founder and president of Children’s Ministry Solutions, a national ministry to parents, churches, and children’s ministry leaders.
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