BIG DAY – The Morning Of the Preaching Rally Is An Exciting One!

The only light in the room comes from the red glowing numbers on top of my dresser, directly across the room. They read, “4:37.”

My body immediately knows something is different about today, but my conscious mind is still trying to crank up the gears. They are a little rusty right now.

Oh yeah! Preaching Rally day.

I kick my legs out of the covers, trying not to wake my wife as I exit the room.

Coffee. Bible reading. Prayer time. Go time.


My mind is ablaze as I head to church, darting from one thought to the next. I am a cocktail of nerves, excitement and details as I pull in the driveway, absentmindedly forgetting to park in the special area I told everyone else to park in.

I walk through the entrance and see the decorations on the walls. The barren registration tables sit patiently, awaiting the hundreds of people that will soon pass by.

Lights on. Air conditioners on. Everything’s ready to go.

Now, what else was I supposed to do?


About that time each year, my “Morning Of” checklist explodes in my hand. Oh yeah! Print reserved signs for my teens, rope off back rows for our church, print the pulpit notes, get the water bottles out of the fridge, unlock the back door so the preacher can get in, write a note to a youth pastor…

This is a random collection of that preparation stuff. Some of it will have been done the week before, but all of it is re-checked the morning of the Preaching Rally.

Youth leader welcome packet. Each adult receives a welcome packet which includes a personal note from me (if I know who is coming), a general welcome note, extra booklets, bookmarks and pens, a camp brochure and a Calvary Baptist Publications ( catalogue. These are staged at the registration table.

Shock and awe. The exterior decorations of the Men’s Advance in Stillwater, OK, were meant to “shock and awe” the guests as soon as they drove on campus. They had huge decorations like a giant throne or a World War II scene of men storming Normandy. Our decorations are not so extravagant, but they are meant to be eye-catching, like a 12-foot tall Bible or 7-foot tall figurines.

Welcome banner. We post a Preaching Rally “Welcome” banner right beside our church sign at the main road, so bus drivers know they are turning into the correct driveway (we are surrounded by several other churches).

Materials in place. We store the boxes of printed materials in storage until the morning of the Preaching Rally, then we haul them out to their places. The registration materials go to the registration tables, and the booklets, bookmarks and pens go to the foyer where the greeters will be able to access them.

Phones. A church or two always hits some traffic and runs a few minutes late. We have a secretary cover the phones in the church office all morning, until about 30 minutes after the Preaching Rally begins.

Print backups. I print all my pulpit notes and have them sitting on my front pew with my microphone, schedule, pens and anything else I have gathered. I use an iPad for all my announcements and preaching, but I have the printed sheets in case something goes wrong with the iPad.

Loud speaker. We get the crowd’s attention quickly with a siren noise from our loud-speaker, then we make any pertinent announcements (i.e. Two minute warning before the service starts). On a side note, I made the announcement one year when a girl was standing next to me. She said, “Oh, are you going to do this right here?” and I did. “That was the coolest thing ever. I feel so special.” Silly, but a fun memory from the day. We used to have a couple men shouting “10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute” throughout the break, but people tuned them out. It works better to hit the siren to get everyone’s attention, then make the announcement.

Open buildings. I walk through all the areas that need to be unlocked and prepare them for services by turning on lights, setting the air conditioning, and unlocking doors. For the Preaching Rally, this includes the sanctuary, nursery, restrooms, kitchen and gym. For some reason (probably the devil), we always seem to have a light burned out, so I always check to change those.

Media. In my opening routine I make sure the media is prepared, including turning on the projector, turning on the sound system, and logging into the church Mac for media man (if he does not have his own login). At this time, I will usually start a prepared slideshow in the sanctuary and foyer of past Preaching Rally pictures.

Review. I read through and role-play in my mind every action of the day, from start to finish. I review every note, every song, every give-away and make sure everything is in place in the pulpit.

Distribute printed schedules. We print about 75 copies of the day’s schedule to give to any volunteer who wants one. Most of our church members are involved in some way and might need to know song times, food times, or break times, so schedules are printed and placed on the front pew to hand to each person that needs one.

Prayer time. Before most of our church members arrive, the preachers meet together in Pastor’s office to pray for the day. This concludes in time to do other sound checks and final preparations.

Decorations touch-up. We are on course for bi-annual wall decoration fiascos. Every other year (on the even years) we have come into church to find most of our wall decorations on the floor. After a scramble, it works out okay, but shaves a few days off the end of our lives through the stress.

Skit rehearsals. Those in the skits run through their lines together, rehearsing with microphones when necessary. They complete their sound check before the music sound checks, and then move to another room to practice together.

Sound checks. I gather my choir book or any other music that we are using that day and we run through all three specials for each of the sessions, moving mic and music stands where needed.

Registration needs. I move my iPad, Square card reader (to accept credit card payments) and anything else the registrars might need to the registration desk.

Giveaways. Whatever the gift is for that year, I double-check that everything is ready to go. If it is books, we move the boxes to the right area. If it is t-shirts, we check the tables to make sure they are ready to go.

Pulpit items. The pulpit hides a multitude of sins, including games, free gifts, youth pastor drawings, songbooks, iPads, cleanup rags, and more. Whatever the day requires, the items are usually within arm’s reach under the pulpit or at my front pew.