This gospel work begins with the children. Almost every year we have children’s meetings in a lower income community within reasonable distance from the hall. Much publicity and fanfare is made of our weekly Sunday School in the hall and a special reward is offered to encourage the students to attend.
We have several vans that pick up children each Sunday. Based on the Sunday School attendance, we then have two different approaches. The first effort I call the “Come with the Adults” opportunity for the older students where they can come to an adult meeting at night; we send a van to pick them up for gospel meeting. During a special series, the van will go most nights with a stop for a treat on the way home (ice cream, French fries, slushy drink, or something like that).
The second effort I call the “Bait and Switch” approach. Poorly worded, but the idea is to have the parents hear the gospel either in the Hall or in some other setting. Parents will rarely come by themselves, but they will come to watch their children. So we offer the two or three children’s programs a year to get the parents into the hall. There is the Sunday School Treat Program where the children recite poems and Scripture, which is then followed by a gospel message. We’ve done Holiday programs (Christmas, Easter, etc.) where the children sing some hymns and recite verses about the real meaning of the holiday, and then we have a gospel message. The gospel is preached like we would in a regular gospel meeting, as opposed to a children’s lesson format. These events include a meal to afford time for the Christians to meet and talk to the parents. The other avenue is the Sunday School picnic and a fall hay-ride where the parents can come and have some outdoor activity with their children. We finish this with food for the stomach and the soul – just a short message or lesson in the gospel.