Sunday School Campaigns

I am new to SI and not sure which forum this would apply to, but I thought I would open it up here and see what kind of discussion is generated. The net is full of junk that you have to wade through, but hope to get some productive exchange.

I am lookiing for ideas on Sunday School campaigns. We try to do a Spring and a Fall campaign. We have done a Spring baseball campaign where we gave "hits"and "home runs" when visitors were brought, attendance, etc and at the end those with the most "runs," won a prize.

Does your church have attendance campaigns or programs. I would love to exchange ideas if any have some to offer.

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

Has your church considered an alternative recruitment method? I ask this with the understanding that certainly it is the highest desire of your church to see people saved and discipled and do understand that; but what comes to mind in considering this system is its real or potential impact upon its participants. And here is what I mean.

1. When people (others) are positioned in our minds as a source of gain or approbation of some sort, even for what seems to be for the most greatly justified cause, they are reduced or diminished with respect to their true value and are objectified to some degree. And such a system, though sincere for many, brings with it (at least as reflected in my mind) a discourteous treatment of another person, particularly with regard to the true treatment and elevation they should receive when we are attempting to either communicate the gospel and be a source of enlightenment or further their discipleship in the Lord.

They are instead an object for some system of reward for ourselves and when people become privy to the real reason they are being invited, because there is a contest, the possible contempt for God's church, the gospel and even the one doing the inviting are magnified. And while one person might be saved, how many hearts are further entrenched in cynicism upon such discoveries, namely that they were not recruited purely because of a personal and genuine interest in their well being but in part or whole because it was part of a contest of which they are an object to be counted and tallied at the end?

2.. The panoramic view of the process of personal redemption (the draw of God through his Spirit, the enlightenment of the truth by God's Spirit, the exercise of one's volition and the subsequent gift of faith) is not fully appreciated and somewhat by-passed with such methods because our objective as believers in seeking the lost is not necessarily to bring a person to "church" but to be a tool through which God writes on their heart, the gospel. So (maybe this is a repetition of #1 and if so forgive me) when our interest in their presence at a Sunday school class is presented, particularly during a campaign such as this, it is done so in a manner that makes of greater importance their acquiescence to "coming to church" or "coming to Sunday school" than necessarily seeing and hearing to gospel and the softening of their heart so that they can be ready recipients of the gospel seed; a process of which is most often accomplished over time, day by day in the lives of others culminating with their faith in Christ . While one's attending Sunday school or church by way of invitation is very likely part of that process for some, this campaign design does not reflect the scope of the experience or expectation we should keep in mind.

3. Such a system does seem to present to those participating as contestants a reinforcement of inconsiderate behavior toward our fellow man with respect to God's intent and desire for their lives. The believer is given a context that appears to condone greater interest in others when they can serve the believer's end. Again I appeal to the objectification element of this system. And such a system can and has in the past, fostered a disposition among believers that greater interest should be placed in those that we can determine are cooperating with "our" efforts.

One might say, "Well if people get saved then that is the only impact to be considered or that such an impact justifies the system of recruitment". And to that I respond that God is more grand that being subdued by a system of recruitment in order for a person to be drawn by his Spirit. God has a system himself and while we are free to develop certain methods we are not free to develop ANY method of recruitment and instruction. We are obligated to consider the overall impact of systems and methods on all of its participants.

I do want to say though, that in no way should I be construed to be disapproving of inviting or recruiting anyone to attend church or Sunday school. Clearly I am not. What I am considering is this particular system and its merits and like M. Edwards I too look forward to other considerations.

Rev Karl's picture

The title is not meant to be a flippant response to your honest inquiry. This is what I have seen work at the churches in which God has placed me.

About 18 months ago our pastor recognized a need to do *something* to stimulate growth in our members, and bring others into our membership, but he didn't know specifically what we should do. So he suggested 40 days of fasting and prayer to ask for God's guidance and leadership as we sought to increase the testimony of the Lord in this place. While others were welcome to participate at any time, one person each day would be designated (on a volunteer basis) to be the person fasting and praying that day. Others prayed continually. Others fasted as they were able. But there was fasting and prayer in progress every day for 40 days.

At the end of the 40 days, 8 new families had joined our church.

We did not implement a new activity. We did not implement a new program. We did not advertise the 40 days of fasting and prayer outside of our congregation. We were not even asking specifically for church growth! All we did was pray - fervently - and God gave the increase.

Not only was there an increase in the size of our congregation, there was a spiritual growth, and a growing sense of the moving of the Lord within our members. Our people grew, as well as the size of our congregation.

We (the generalized "we" applying to evangelical Christianity) have gotten to the point where we almost always feel that we have to *do* something. My experience (and this is not the only church in which I have seen the Lord move in this way) is that we need to be still, pray-pray-pray as a congregation together in unity, and rely on the Lord to build His church. When He tells us to reach out to a friend, a neighbor, a family member, we must be obedient to His leading. But we trust the Lord for the growth, not the effectiveness of our own activity.

While we are not now in a time of fasting and prayer, the Lord continues to bring new families into our congregation. Last Sunday, 5 new members from three different families joined our church. Our people continue to grow and to reach out individually. It's an incredible thing to see God working in such an obvious way!

It's not a program. It's not a formula. "... The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)

Just my own observations, respectfully subitted for your consideration.

M. Edwards's picture

Hey, my pastor wants a campaign - I'm going to give him a campaign. Thanks for your input though, fellows. It's great food for thought - but back to the question at hand, anybody out there interested in real world ideas for SS campaigns?

Angela Stewart's picture

I don't think you'll get too many responses. My impression is that most of the membership at SI (myself included) do not support or employ campaigns of the type you mention. I would suggest that a Google search of "Sunday school campaigns" would likely give you many creative and effective ideas for such an endeavor.

I'd also suggest a frank examination of what the purpose behind such a campaign would be. If it's to motivate lots of people who wouldn't normally get up and go to church early on a Sunday to do so, you'll need significant manipulations and motivations. If, however, the goal is to bring in unbelievers for the purpose of evangelism, I doubt having dozens show up for a few Sundays in hope of winning a prize will be very condusive to drawing them to Christ and discipling them. Joining the big righteous team - yes. Initiating a relationship with Christ - less likely. People are just as "bandwagony" as they have always been, but I submit that these days, they are much less likely to stay on the bandwagon once the party's over.