Every church has special Sundays, but not every church uses them to offer outsiders the excuse to attend church. I’m happy, for example, to observe Veteran’s Day in Sunday worship, but do so pragmatically, with the intention of making it a big attendance day. Most churches give some minimal recognition of the day, and then hurry on to the next item in the church bulletin. For me, however, Veteran’s Day (and other such events) is something to be exploited as an opportunity to increase attendance and to expand the scope of the ministerial radar.
We make the day special by putting on display veterans’ memorabilia —uniforms, pictures, medals, etc., for perusal before and after the worship service. As part of the service, we invite a color guard (JROTC, VFW, Boy Scouts, etc.) to present the colors in procession, with our veterans in parade. A roll call is taken, and the veterans are recognized individually. I set aside some time to discuss Just War concepts and we pray for world leaders’ wisdom, world peace, and protection of our own military personnel.
We are sure to invite the veterans’ own family members to this special service. This gives family members an excuse to attend, and the pastor gets to meet them, thereby getting them to blip ever more prominently on the ministerial radar. The same is true for the visiting color guard.
While other churches might observe Reformation Day, my churches observe All Saints Day. Baptist observance of All Saints Day entails the recognition of all those church members who died in the past year. I recruit church members to offer a short remembrance or eulogy for each one, as time permits. We strongly promote this special day. It fuels the memory of our recently departed members and urges us to follow their example in running with perseverance the race set before us. We also use the service to invite the surviving family members, thus boosting our attendance and, again, increasing the scope of our ministerial radar.
The same is true for all special events. Vacation Bible School Sunday, high school and college graduation day, baby dedications, baptisms, Thanksgiving, etc. If the church happens to have a cemetery, we will host a special community service at the cemetery on Memorial Day. Increased attendance may not be the primary purpose for observing any of these days, but the church should avail itself of the opportunity to increase attendance for each one of them.