Eliminating the Dog and Pony Show

imprrh@gmail.com —  May 11, 2014

Eliminating the Dog and Pony Show

Most churches have special “visitor” days. The announcement usually goes something like this:

On Sabbath May 3rd, the pastor/leader/announcement guy says: “Brothers and sisters, on May 29th, we are having friends and family day. Please invite your friends and family to come out that Sabbath.”

Think about this for a moment. When you announce that May 29th will be a special “bring your friends and family” to church day it does two things:

a. Wrong message to guests.

What message does that send to the friends and family that are there visiting on May 3rd? Not a very good one! They might feel duped, or that they came on the wrong Sabbath. No one likes to feel that they got less than the best. This happens sometimes in our evangelism, where we go out of our way to be friendly, people hear well prepared messages, receive gifts and listen to heartwarming music. Then it’s over and we go back to doing church as usual. No wonder some stop coming. That wasn’t what they signed up for!

b. Wrong message to members.

Having Dog and Pony shows as your only way to attract newcomers subconsciously send the message to your people that they are not supposed to bring new people to church EVERY week. Every week should be special. Every week should be friendly. Every week we should try to invite, challenge and call for people to follow Jesus. Every week. Not just on special visitor days.

Here is what I would recommend. Make every Sabbath a special Sabbath: Preach, model and plan for these two things:

1. Excellence. I say this all the time: excellence honors God and inspires people. Excellence is being able to do something at a high level for a sustained period of time. Anyone can get lucky and hit a homerun once in a while. Even a broken clock can tell the right time twice a day. Strive to do your best every week. It might be regular church for you, but it could be life changing for a guest.

2. Intentionality. We should not be surprised that guests came, we expected them and we are glad they are here. We are glad that lost people decided to join us and we had already in mind what we would say, do, and prepare for them.

What are your thoughts? How can we take advantage of special days without becoming dog and pony churches?


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2 responses to Eliminating the Dog and Pony Show

  1. Raiza de los Rios – Fernandez May 12, 2014 at 9:51 am

    In the past, I have had a hard time inviting visitors to church on random Sabbaths, because that may be the day that the pastor might choose to berate the church for something that’s not working well, or preach a sermon about the evils of ‘the beast’ without visitors in mind, or even the embarrassing comments from the announcers. I understand there are times when the church needs “Members of the House admin time”. . . what is your opinion on when these things should happen? It almost feels sometimes like we should have two services – one that is visitor friendly and one for training/admin/heavier topic one.

    • imprrh@gmail.com May 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

      You bring a great point raiza, my perspective is this: why would I risk losing a person over stuff that I can study in my small group, Sabbath school class or at home? Some people will only give church one try. Lets make it right every time.