A few years ago, I wrote an article called “How Making Every Sunday Special Changed Our Church” that immediately caught the attention of a lot of people.
In this article, I shared how our church plant came up with the idea during a planning meeting focused on boosting Summer attendance to add special elements to our normal Sunday service routine. These fun elements, such as a grill giveaway on Father’s Day, a character dress-up day for the kids, adding a unique song to the start of the service, and taking our city’s largest selfie, ended up being such a hit that we dared to ask what would happen if we continued to add special elements to every Sunday service. Would it continue to build excitement?
Since then, our little church plant has grown a lot – both in number and influence. We’ve launched new campuses and accomplished much in our community. In that time, we have gone through seasons where we’ve put a lot of emphasis on this strategy of making every Sunday special, and times where it took a back seat. (Anyone who has served in ministry long can attest that each new season in a church brings unique challenges and opportunities that you must adjust to accordingly.) But, overall, this has been a consistent theme for our ministry. Enough that we still keep it up and recommend it to others.
With many creative elements under our belt, we have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Even more, we’ve learned what has been memorable, beneficial to our church, and caught the attention of outsiders. Sometimes an element makes an impact; sometimes it falls flat. Some have been so successful that we’ve repeated them many times over.
Recently, I sat down to teach a new generation of leaders who will be carrying on the mantle of making every Sunday special in our ministry. Here are the tips that I shared that matter most to this strategy:
1. Aim To Make A Lasting Impression
Understandably, some people are hesitant about the idea of adding fun or creative elements to something as sacred as a church service. And hey – it honestly might not be for everyone. After all, isn’t the Gospel enough?
For our ministry, when we started this, we were eager to build a reputation in our community that church doesn’t have to be boring. We believe that we have the greatest news in the world to share and that it’s worth celebrating. When we’ve added special elements, like having watermelon after service on a Summer day or hosting a fun family photo booth, it’s been successful in communicating that something life-giving is happening here.
Also, these elements often make way for relationships to be built and that’s an important part of a church family. I have loved seeing how it has caught the attention of people who have given up on church in the past by inviting them to something relatable and engaging. If it takes something a little out of the ordinary to get people to uncross their arms and open up to our message, it’s worth it to me.
Ultimately, it’s the Holy Spirit that will draw them to greater things, but we love getting to show kindness and intentionality along the way. I like to remind our volunteers that it’s not just about having fun for fun’s sake. When we do this, it’s ultimately to bring people closer to the family of God.
2. Get People Involved
Adding creative elements to your church’s services is a great way to foster community as your congregation gets to experience them on Sundays. But, a surprising bonus is the camaraderie that occurs when you bring volunteers together to pull them off.
It’s such an easy ask to reach out to someone who hasn’t volunteered before to help out with serving iced coffee one Sunday or decorating the lobby for an upcoming holiday. Use these moments as an opportunity to bring people together and try to have some fun in the preparation. I like to say that “there’s nothing more enjoyable than serving God with people that you love,” and this is a great example of that. Our church has even hosted small groups that specifically focus on prepping special elements like this during the week as we get ready for creative moments on Sunday.
Get people involved and make it fun, because it won’t be fun for long if it’s all on one person’s shoulders. I learned that the hard way early on.
3. Give Yourself Enough Time
Do you know what kills creativity? Stress. When you’re stressed, you don’t have time to dream up great ideas. When you’re down the wire and trying to pull off things quickly, you don’t have the freedom to explore new methods. Practically speaking, it’s also really hard to rally people together and obtain the necessary supplies if you wait until the last minute to try to do something creative for your church.
Instead, take time to plan something a few weeks (or dare I say months) out. The more inexperienced you are with these special elements, the more time you will need to pull them off. Trust me. Things will go wrong. Something will be out of stock. Shipping will be delayed. Someone will call out sick. It happens all the time. Build in enough time for you to adjust accordingly.
4. Celebrate Before, During, & After
Pretty much any special element that you do at your church is going to cost you something—whether it’s money, time, or just plain effort. To make these special elements worth it, I recommend that you ensure that it’s properly celebrated. What do I mean? Make a point to talk about this creative element at three important periods – before, during, and after.
Before Sunday comes, spread the word that you have something special planned. Post about it on your church’s social media pages, share it in your church email blast, and announce it in your small groups. Let as many people as you can know that it’s coming and that they don’t want to miss it.
Then, when Sunday comes, highlight it in a big way. Draw attention to it from the stage. Have your service host mention it. Have greeters remind people when they arrive that it’s happening today. Make sure that people know that something special is going on that day.
Finally, be sure to tell the story later to celebrate all the fun that you had. Post video or photos on your social pages that expresses the excitement that was had in the moment. This amplifies the effect it had on participants as they remember it and communicates to others that they don’t want to miss your next special element.
5. Note What Went Right & Wrong
After everything is packed up and everyone is out the door for the day, be sure to take notes of what went right and wrong. It’s best to do this while it’s all fresh on your mind.
You’ll want to remember how many bottles of lemonade you served in the lobby. You’ll need to remember that your special song was missed by a third of the congregation because you did it too early in the service. You’ll want to make sure you rent two photo booth lights instead of just one for the next one you do. You get the idea. No matter how small or insignificant the detail seems in the moment, you’ll thank yourself later if you take thorough notes.
What Do You Think?
Do any of these recommendations resonate with you? Have you tried doing any creative elements at your church? Let us know by leaving a comment below!