It is that time of year again, the time when summer comes to a close and thoughts of back-to-school shopping and school buses come to mind.

This September, kick off your congregation’s Sunday school year with exciting Rally Day activities. Because this day is for all members of your congregation, plan activities that are family-friendly and include the congregation and community.

Rally Day is the day to start a project, reach out to new members, celebrate Sunday school and get people invested in it and your ELCA congregation.

Because many people travel during the summer and do not participate in activities with the congregation, this day is a great way to bring those members back and show how special Sunday school is.

Here are some ways to celebrate your congregation’s Rally Day:

Prayer service: Hold a prayer service for the youths and adults before Sunday school begins. Set up prayer stations and integrate members of all ages into small groups. Each small group will rotate through the stations and reflect on their past Sunday school experiences and their hopes for the upcoming year. The prayer stations and small groups provide members a time for reflection and introduction to the year.

Worship service and Bible study: Worship and Bible studies are important aspects of Sunday school. During Sunday morning worship, bless members of all Sunday school classes and the projects for the upcoming school year. Take this time to launch a Sunday school project and begin collecting offerings; ELCA Good Gifts is one idea. Following the service, hold a Bible study for the adults and craft time for the children. It may be possible to bring in a speaker to host the Bible study on this special day. These activities will highlight the focus of Sunday school, Scripture and fellowship with others.

Cookout: Congregations love to host potlucks, and Rally Day is the perfect excuse to have one. Host a congregational cookout, an ice cream social or a picnic for your congregation following worship. During the cookout, have members of your congregation provide entertainment. The entertainment could be a performance from a musical group, a talent show or a play presented by the young people of the congregation. Use the cookout as an outreach tool to the community and invite the public to attend to learn more about your congregation and Sunday school. A cookout can bring your congregation together in fellowship and create excitement for the Sunday school year.

Carnival: Host a family carnival following worship and Sunday school. A carnival is a fun way to start Sunday school activities, bringing all generations together. The carnival could include a pie-eating contest, a dunk tank, bean bag toss, horseshoes, fun carnival games and prizes. You could also host a bake sale and give the proceeds to the Sunday school program or an ELCA ministry, such as the ELCA Malaria Campaign, ELCA Good Gifts or ELCA World Hunger. The carnival can be a tool to reach out to the community and to the new members in your congregation.

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