Just to say that we are going to have a big day is not enough. Just a dignified announcement and a few letters is not enough. There must be a definite planned pro-gram of promotion. If the big day is successful, then the pastor must lead in the promotion of it from the pulpit. The pastor must first get excited over it, if he is to lead his people to get enthused and to work hard to make the special day a success. Following are some promotion suggestions:
1. Plan Your Big Days a Year in Advance. At the beginning of each year I take my calendar and plan the big days. It is sometimes necessary, of course, to make changes during the year; and yet, in order to know the direction that the church is going, and in order to secure speakers for the special occasions, it is good to plan the days far in advance.
2. Start the Promotion of a Big Day Early. Start promotion of each big day or special occasion four to six weeks in advance. Announce it from the pulpit at every service. Get excited about it yourself. Stir up the interest in the people at each service for four to six weeks prior to the big day. Your people will not think the day any more important than you do; they will not get any more excited about it than you do. How hard the people work to make the day successful largely depends on how you start promotion of it from the pulpit.
3. Have Fun as You Prepare for the Big Day. Churches are so staid in our generation that it seems it would be good for the big days to create freedom of expression. So be sure that the people are in a good frame of mind and are joyful as you look forward to the big day.
4. Do Not Have a Big Day on a Normal Big Day. By this I mean that on Easter Sunday your crowds are always good anyway, so it is not wise to have a big day on this Sunday. Have the big days on the difficult Sundays of the year.
5. Do Not Have a Big Day During a Revival. A revival, in itself, is something special. Of course, you should strive for a large attendance. By saying do not have a big day I mean this: Do not use your other ideas during a revival, as you will have wasted the ideas. A revival will take care of itself. The spirit runs high during a revival-a special occasion should be when the spirit does not normally run high, in order to level off the church program for the entire year.
6. Make the Special Occasions Periodic. One big “record-breaking” day each year is enough. Then, one special occasion each quarter we find to be advisable. Along with these, a special occasion once each month is good. In other words, use one special occasion each month, something extra special each three months, and something super once each year-which gives a total of sixteen big days each year. Of course, there are other occasions which may be observed throughout the year, but these, I feel, will be enough to keep a church busy and happy.
7. Do Not Set Too Many Goals. One or two goals each year is sufficient. It is a bad thing for a church to set a goal and not reach it. It lets the people know that they can fail. Do not ever set a goal unless you are positively sure that you can reach it, thereby encouraging the people to set further goals. My suggestion is that goals be set seldom. The primary purpose of the big days is not to reach a definite goal, but to reach more people and to create a good spirit among your own people.
8. When a Goal Is Set, Set It High. A church will come nearer reaching a high goal than a low one. For example, a church with 150 in Sunday school will come nearer reaching 300 than 200. The people must be challenged. They will respond to a big challenge more than they will to something that does not tax their energy.
When our church had 44 in Sunday school attendance we set a goal for 173 and had 191. When we had an attendance of 200 in Sunday school we set a goal for 325 and had 339. When we had 300 in Sunday school, we set a goal for 444 and had 618. When we had 450 in Sunday school attendance we set a goal for 666 and had 952. When we had 700 in Sunday school, we set a goal for 1,080 and had 1,181. When we had around 750 to 800 in attendance, we set a goal for 1,300 and had 1,601. Since we have been having 1,000 and over in attendance, we have set goals of 2,000 and had 2,212-and a goal of 3,000 and had 3,163. Something big challenges people. The bigness of the challenge will encourage the people to bring their friends and relatives.
9. Sign Up Methods. It is sometimes good to use sign up methods, such as bananas to be “one of the bunch,” or a link in a chain, or some similar idea. This is good occasionally; however, it can be over used. Perhaps once each year is enough for a sign up method. A sign up method seems to do more in a revival effort than at any other time, because the pastor has each night of the meeting to ask people to sign up and promise to come.
10. Get Your People to Bring Their Friends and Relatives. Suggest that the members bring their relatives from out of town for the big day, or friends from a neighboring city, or anyone who can come from churches that are not real soul winning, Bible preaching churches. There are a number of things that getting people from out of town will do, though it will not build your own church immediately: Many of them will be saved. People who live outside your city are just as much in need of Christ as those who live in your city. Many of them will come with relatives for a big occasion and be converted.
It will help the people who come so that they will go back and encourage their own churches to be on fire for God. Many times just one person who is encouraged in a special service in your church can go back to his own church and ignite a flame that will burn in soul winning zeal for months to come.
It will bring publicity to your church. Every church needs publicity. If your city is one of any size, almost everyone has friends and is constantly meeting people who live close enough to be reached by your church; hence, it is a good way to build for the future.
Many people are in liberal churches which do not be-lieve in the new birth. They need to be taken from these churches. Their attendance at your church on a big day may make them dissatisfied with their liberal church, so that they will return home and place their membership in a church that believes in the new birth, soul winning, and other basic Christian beliefs.
On an extra special day people from three or four states and scores of other towns come to visit the services. Put special emphasis on making it a “family affair” and many will come to be reunited with loved ones.
At each service for four or five weeks prior to the big day, ask for a show of hands of people who have already gotten promises. Find out how many promises you have. Give special attention to those who have already gotten people to promise to come with them. It is a good idea to spend at least five minutes at each public service in the promotion of the big day.
11. Build Your Big Days around the Pastor. If you build your big days around visiting speakers, then people will not see the church in a normal service. They will come and enjoy the visiting speaker, go back home and wish they could go to a church like that all of the time. Then, the next Sunday they will come to hear you, perhaps. The special occasion is over; you are back to normal -the prospects are not there, the souls do not walk the aisles in good number as they did previously on the big day. The people think it is the preaching of the visit-ing speaker that did it, and that the pastor is not as capable. Hence, they will not come back.
However, if they come on a big occasion and hear your pastor and feel the spirit and see the souls saved, they will realize they can see that every Sunday, and will want to come back and hear the pastor regularly. Be sure that the pastor is the speaker on big occasions.
12. Make Much Use of the Mail. The week prior to the big day, after it has been announced and publicized in the public church services, send out letters publicizing the special day. Sometimes we send out two letters in one week-one at the first of the week, another later in the week. Or, a letter at the first of the week and a postal card later in the week is good. These are sent out to each member enrolled in our Sunday school most of the time which means that each member of the family will get a letter. The second letter sent out the same week might be sent out to the church roll, one letter to each family.