Mother's Day Outreach


I have a new love: photography. I just photographed my first wedding and have a second scheduled for June.

I have been looking for a way to marry my new love with my life passion: Sunday School, home groups, and church growth. I sent an email out to some friends with one idea, but got several better ones back. This is the best I have right now. It is an adaptation of an idea that Steve Ford of Central Baptist in Magnolia, AR sent me. If all goes well, I will be doing this at my church on Mother's Day.

The idea is to set up a photographer to take Mother and child pictures on Mother's Day. This becomes a kind of dual high attendance day. Before Mother's day, you call all the children (and/or moms) and invite them to have their Mother and children picture taken. You have a real photographer set up so it feels like something of real value. Then, two weeks later you give away free 4X6s. (These cost about a quarter each.) The photographer gets paid on sale of additional, or larger prints. This arrangement is similar to the service offered by church directories. They do the photo shoot for free, knowing that some will buy the packages.

That is my best idea, again, from Steve Ford. (His version was an Easter promotion; same concept.)

Listed below are some other ideas about using photography as an outreach.

My original idea:

I have an idea in the rough I wanted to see if you can help me complete.

What if your church had a picture day on a Sunday. A photographer brought a bunch of gear in–umbrellas, lighting, back drops, etc. On Saturday he coached one person from each class to be the photographer. Each class is set up to take photographs.

This day becomes a kind of high attendance day for a reason: we want everyone there so we can take pictures of everyone. Everyone is called a month out; two weeks out. Emails, announcements, etc.

I think because there is an excuse to do the high attendance day, people would really show up.

Here is the part I am not sure about: what to actually do with the pictures. Here are some ideas I have:

Make a photobook for each class. There are a number of sites that help with this. One issue: they are not real cheap.

Make a blog/ ning site (see web page for each class. Or, check out this new site:

Make a poster with pics of the whole class and individual/ couple/ family pictures. This would be great for outsiders to see who is in the classes. Most classes don't follow strict age grading, so if a visitor could see a poster with pictures of people in the class, it would help them pick a class.

Of course, the other issues is paying for the whole thing. If the photographer had some hope that he would sell quite a number of photographs then he might be willing to donate his time and gear. I am still thinking about that part.

I believe you have good ideas by having LOTS of ideas. This might very well be a bad one.

Brian McAnally's Spin

Hey Josh,

We’re in the middle of a “Spring Fling” Sunday school emphasis. It’s a seven-week focus on Sunday school. We’re doing a different emphasis each week, and having Sunday school testimonies as part of worship each week.

The schedule:
March 30 — church-wide progressive potluck following worship.
April 6 — Adult Department scavenger hunt. (points for most stuff, and most guests brought. Winners get a plaque.)
April 13 — White Elephant Teacher Exchange (swap teachers in every adult class...lots of anxiety on this one!)
April 20 — Lone Star Sunday (celebrating all things Texas)
April 27 — Show Your Colors Sunday (every dept assigned a color to wear, sit as a dept. in worship)
May 4 — Picture This! Sunday (details below)
May 11 — Mother’s Day

Our Picture This! Sunday ties into the idea you shared below. Here’s what we’re doing. We’re bringing in a photographer who will take & print digital images with a personalized backdrop that morning, and encouraging all classes to come get a photo taken by them. We did this for a “Friend Day” and printed approx 600 pictures in 4 hours. The cost is $1300 but is literally as many photos as we can get taken and printed in those four hours. The price includes a paper frame for the photos, too. It was a HUGE hit last time.

Also, we’re providing every department with a disposable camera (purchased wholesale), for them to take pictures that Sunday. They are to leave their cameras in SS boxes, and then we will have them developed by a guy in our church who provides this service. We’ll probably pay a nominal fee. We are also encouraging people to bring their own digital cameras and be ‘photo happy’ on Sunday in Sunday school.

We’re encouraging folks to bring in any other photos they want that Sunday so they can brag on family, tell tall tales, and just have a good time.

We’ll encourage folks to make name tags, collages or whatever using the photos taken on this Sunday.

I like the idea of a blog page or perhaps flickr page...we’ll explore this further.

David Rose' approach:

This is a great idea. I’ve found an inexpensive software ($59.95) that allows you to produce an in-house directory. It is user-friendly and high quality. We used photographers in our church with no special lighting at all. We had a tasteful backdrop (some nice bookshelves), and our folks went nuts about the pictures. They donated to our youth fund to have reprints made, and our directory was ready within days of the final shoot. 

We’re getting ready for retakes (it’s been about a year), and I’ve been pondering a high attendance day. This could be a great combo!

George Yates offered some perspective on my idea

I was a part time photographer for several years (about 15). Much of my equipment was stolen in a house break-in in 1993, and I just never reinvested.

The major hurdle I see in what you presented in the e-mail is the photographer coming in with enough equipment to even set up per department or classes. As you are probably finding out you can find inexpensive equipment options (lights, umbrellas, backgrounds). However, having enough equipment to set up three or four (or more) temporary “studios” is more than most photographers have. And then there is the price of the professional’s cameras. And then after the price it is training and trusting your equipment in the hands of a novice.

A photographer to have this much portable equipment and willing to use it in this fashion would be one of two things: 1) too expensive for the average church, 2) intentional about this as a ministry. Let’s pray for the second one.

I believe the idea and concept is great. I have known classes that have photos of all members on their class room wall (in-service workers included). I t was great for members and guests alike. The idea of a website or blog site is excellent at this time. Photo books are good but as you mentioned expensive.

Weldon French added a short, but good idea:

One idea: put the class photos in the Welcome Center for first-time guests to see.   It would put a face on the congregation, plus they might recognize a person and want to go to that individual's class.

David Frasure offered a more thorough treatment of this topic:

How to Have a Blow-Out Sunday on Mother’s Day

Motivation: Mother’s Day is often one of the most overlooked opportunities for exposing people to the Gospel.  Having a church full of lost and unchurched people for this special day can result in many changed lives.

April Preparation

¨  In the first week of April, prepare an article (See page two) for the church newsletter to cast vision and explain the process.

¨  Prepare Meaningful Mother’s Day Information Forms (See page three) to be placed in the April church bulletins and on the Ushers’ Table, Welcome Center, etc.

¨  Put up promotional posters (See page four) around the church building

¨  Consider promotion in newspapers and radio announcements.

¨  In the third week of April, mail out letters to out of town adult children of the mothers in your church (See page five).

¨  During the last week of April, mail out letters to adult and youth children who are in driving distance from your church (See page six). 

May Action Plan

¨  Promote Meaningful Mother’s Day again in the May newsletter.

¨  Consider sending out reminder letters or postcards.

¨  During the first week of May, make personal phone calls to invite adult and youth children to attend Mother’s Day Worship Services with their mom on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Worship

¨  Consider having the Children’s Choir present a special song(s).

¨  Read excerpts from the responses you received from the out of town adult children.  Be sure each mother receives the original copies of these letters. 

¨  Consider having a gift for each mother present.

¨  Consider having your active teenagers prepare brief testimonial videos that can be shown as part of the worship experience or even part of the morning sermon.

¨  Consider having a PowerPoint presentation of mothers posing with their children.  It would be good to have the names appear on the slides with each picture.  This can be shown before or during worship, and it can be played with live or recorded special music in the background

¨  Consider having a Parent/Baby Dedication ceremony as part of the morning worship experience or use the opportunity to promote an upcoming dedication service.

¨  Consider giving the opportunity for adult and youth children to give a testimony on how their mother impacted their life for Christ.

¨  Consider singing the top five favorite hymns and choruses requested by mothers.

¨  Preach on an appropriate passage that allows you to honor mothers while presenting the Gospel.  Be sure the worship service is well planned with enough time for all the extra activities and the sermon.

Andy Harris offered a non-Baptist perspective:

I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all…to build attendance for a Sunday School class as a special day.  In fact, I think it’s a great idea!  The fund raising aspect might be another story.  If the photos were $5 or less, you would probably sell a lot.  Then, again, you might have some people who would want to bring their own cameras and “pirate” a shot.  Who knows?  Anything can happen in a Baptist…I mean…Assemblies of God church.  HA.

Keep the good ideas coming.  You are such a blessing to the body of Christ.