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The Principle of Big Sunday

Don’t you wish every Sunday was like Easter Sunday? I do.

God wants his churches to be full. Just read Matt 22 and the rest of the bible. I think we leaders do as well.

It’s hard to fill up a church. In the current era you have to add around 4 people in order to grow your Sunday worship average by 1.

A principle that I implement is called “Big Sunday.” I first wrote about it in Leadership Journal (Winter 2006). Here’s how it works…

I have observed that people tend to attend church in one of 5 cycles.

Cycle 1: 52 times per year. This used to be the norm but is now extremely rare.

Cycle 2: 26–52 times per year. This is the most common cycle from my observation. Ball games, vacation and work (just to name a few) keep many from being in church every week.

Cycle 3: 12–26 times per year. This equates to one or two times per month.

Cycle 4: 4–12 times per year. You know who you are.

Cycle 5: 0–4 times per year. I fear this may be the fastest growing cycle. Hence the rise of the “nones.”

The goal of Big Sunday is simple to have all the attendance cycles hit on the same day.


  1. A full house honors God.
  2. A full house gives momentum.
  3. A full house gives a clearer picture of the impact of the church. (sidebar: I am currently developing a system in which we will count both Sunday attendance and start monthly attendance. It’s a much more accurate picture. More to come on that…)
  4. A full house lets you share the gospel with more people. Duh!

Here’s a few tips on how to achieve Big Sunday regularly.

  1. The calendar already dictates many big Sundays. Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving Sunday, Christmas.
  2. Each year has unique calendar opportunities. When July 4 or Halloween or Leap Year or New Years day are on a Sunday for example. Next year 2018 Easter Sunday will be on April fools day…hmm.
  3. Create Big Sunday’s. I’ve done all of the following during Sunday worship: Preschool graduation, preschool Christmas program, memorial services, weddings, upward sports Sunday, friend day, and many more.

Leaders, you should desire to grow your church. I think Lloyd Ogilvie put it best: Unless you believe what has happened to you, in Christ, ought to happen to everyone then clearly not enough has happened to you.

Dave Thornhill

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