Before you start thinking we were real creative, we completely ripped this idea from Elevation Church in NC. However, we did STEP it up a HUGE notch.
The idea is to show your congregation what it would be like if no volunteers served at your church. When people arrive at ‘No Show Sunday’ they have no idea what is going on. It was extremely important for us to keep this a big secret. The first clue they get is that there are no folks in the parking lot to help them park. There are no greeters at the door, no greeters anyway. The children’s building was locked with a sign that said, “All kids will be joining us in the service today.” (This is where we differed from Elevation. They offered children’s ministry on their No Show Sunday)
When people arrived into the sanctuary, there were a few lights on the stage (very basic), all the screens were off. I think we had a stack of worship guides on a side table. People could find them if they looked around.
Once church started, our worship leader went to the keyboard and a drummer started playing. They led us in 3 or 4 songs. She even taught a new song (without words on the screens or printed guide with words). After worship, I went to the stage and spoke. I clued everyone in to what was happening. We told everyone, “If you guys can sit nice and tight during the sermon, everyone gets FREE ice cream after church.”
At the end of the service, people filled out a card where they could commit to 4 months of serving in one of our ministries. They gave their offering in baskets at the door as they left.
Here are our conclusions:
- It was a huge success. People loved it.
- Our volunteers were HONORED and felt appreciated.
- Having kids in the service was not as distracting as we thought. We supplied crayons and coloring paper in the pockets of several seats on each row.
- We had a TON of volunteers sign up
- The worship music part of the service was actually awesome. God didn’t need all the hype. People learned words the old fashioned way. People stepped up and engaged in worship. This is not what we were aiming for, but it was a great lesson for us all.
- The chaos was awesome. The confusion on people’s faces was worth it! It was a great palate cleansing for our church. I do recommend making sure volunteers that have to plan during the week (teachers) know early. No need in surprising them at last minute. We did surprise all other volunteers and simply said, “You don’t have to volunteer today.” It was funny to see naturally friendly people being forced to not be friendly and greet people. So awkward.
- I recommend it in Mid-August when crowds haven’t fully returned from summer and it is great prep for the fall.