Pastor John Ward of Prairie Community Church in Eden Prairie writes about the importance of “Rally Sunday” gearing church members up for community, discipleship and regular worship attendance.[dropcap]T[/dropcap] he first time I heard that infamous line, “In Minnesota there are only two seasons…” I had just arrived at MSP and was picked up by members of a local church’s search committee who brought me out from seminary for an interview. It was early summer and as soon as we left the airport we hit road construction. The person who spouted out the line did so rather quickly, like he couldn’t wait to be the first one in the car to say it. I think he knew he had a willing victim. I did chuckle when I heard that iconic answer. That was 35 years ago.
Yes, winter and road construction are distinct Minnesota seasons. But I can think of another one, especially in the life of our churches. The one that comes to mind is the one we’re all involved in right now: the season of “Rally Sunday.”
Or maybe you call it “Kick-Off Sunday” in your church. It’s the season of the church that coincides with the return of the fall school schedule. We in ministry spend a fair portion of our time planning for it, then we launch it each Sunday after Labor Day. It signals the end of the summer’s rest we’ve given to our regular Sunday School teachers, the end of our special outdoor-related programs of softball leagues, VBS, mission trips, and summer camp, and it signals the return to our classrooms and discipleship.
Rally Sundays signal our coming back to community, to regular attendance in worship, Sunday School, and small groups, where we grow together…
The “Kick-Off” or “Rally” Sunday has its own unique quality to it. And each church tweaks it to meet the need. A new sermon series coinciding with the beginning of new Sunday School lessons. After worship a picnic or barbeque with inflatables for the kids to jump on and in (I have a feeling the people who rent out all those bounce houses do their best business on Rally Sundays), an outreach/service activity in the neighborhood.
I like Rally Sundays, especially here in Minnesota, because here in the land of winter and road construction, Rally Sundays signal we’ve made it through the cycle of the other two infamous seasons. People pretty much beat it out of town in the dead of winter for warmer places, and in the summer they are enjoying the weather Up North until the frost comes. Rally Sundays signal our coming back to community, to regular attendance in worship, Sunday School, and small groups, where we grow together “in the grace and knowledge of Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
This year at our church we’re doing a potluck immediately following worship with a fundraising barbeque for next summer’s mission project to build homes in Mexico. We’ll have a blowup obstacle course that the children and youth and a few brave adults will enjoy. I begin a new preaching series and all our classes start back up. How about you and your church? What’s your Rally Sunday look like? How do you launch your church into the fall schedule? However you do, I wish you all the best! May your churches flourish this season!
Pastor John Ward is the Head Pastor at Prairie Community Church in Eden Prairie.