Have you been wondering how a special series of meetings for children is conducted? Let me take you to witness an actual campaign, and as we observe the procedure we will add a few comments and suggestions. This, I believe, will be a profitable experience.
By way of introduction, it should be pointed out that some weeks prior to the commencement of the meetings, the brother who was to act as director called together several brethren of the assembly who were active in Sunday School work.
When this committee met, they also invited one brother from each of two other assembly Sunday Schools in the area, as well as the one who had been invited as special speaker for the campaign. These brethren were invited for the sake of fellowship and to offer suggestions that might be helpful.
The organizing committee, in turn, made an outline of all the duties that would be performed, and appointed certain brethren to be responsible, at least two for each office. These included the following: contests and prizes, publicity and advertising, transportation, registration and follow-up, ushering, singing, etc.
On the opening day of the campaign, all the schools in the area were visited and announcement cards were distributed to the children as they left the schoolyard. Cards had also been given to all the Sunday School pupils.
The children were instructed to meet at certain strategic points, such as the school yard gate, and well-lighted street corners in the area. Those in charge of transportation then arranged for cars to pick up the children and bring them to the hall. Usually the same car and driver took the children back at the close of the meeting and it became general practice for these children to be met regularly by the same person nightly after that. Where drivers found they had too many children for one carload, a call was made to the two brethren in charge of transportation and another car was promptly sent to help out.
Those responsible for registering the children were on hand well in advance of the announced starting hour for the meeting. As the children entered, they were directed through a basement door to a long row of tables. Names, addresses and ages were taken. To speed up this work, space for this data was provided on the advertising cards, so that in many cases the child merely handed in the card and the information was transferred to the registration card later, when the children had been seated.
In this particular hall, an identification badge was pinned onto each child the second night he came — prepared from information given the first night — and each badge was numbered. Thereafter attendance was recorded speedily by merely ticking off the number of the child, as noted on the badge. Surprisingly, these badges were prized by the children, many of whom wore them to school. This became an added means of advertising the “Happy Hour Meetings.”
As the children were registered, they were directed upstairs to the main auditorium, where they were promptly seated, filling in front seats first. In this way, the children were prevented from running around in a noisy, rowdy manner.
The ushers should give the children a warm and friendly greeting, but should be reasonably firm in restraining unnecessary commotion. Ushers who do their job well contribute greatly to the general behaviour tone of the meetings.
The song-leader was enthusiastic and he kept the children singing well. He chose most of the hymns and choruses himself, to be sure that the Gospel was presented in song. Occasionally, he called for a selection from the audience. He sang pieces that were well-known by most, and selections that did not have difficult tunes.
Ten or fifteen minutes were allotted to singing and opening prayer, and then it was time for the “Treasure Chest,” which was a large box or trunk, chained to look as though it had come from a pirate ship. Certain selected children came forward one at a time. With the audience as judge, each child was required to repeat one or more verses of Scripture that had been taught on previous nights. By repeating correctly, he was allowed to pick a key from a bag, or box (no peeking of course!).
If the key was the one that fitted the padlock on the chained chest, he was permitted to select any of the wrapped packages inside the chest. These prizes ranged from Bibles to ball-point pens, from wallets to watches; something that was quite an incentive for the child to learn his verses. Only one prize was given each night, so the contest was not too expensive. A small consolation prize was given to those who said the verse correctly, but failed to select the right key.
At the opening of the lesson period, a brief review of the previous lessons was held. This served to deepen impressions which had been made on the young hearts. The continual repetition made sure that the messages would not soon be forgotten.
A nightly campaign makes it possible to follow a series of related lessons, in which one point is pressed home each night. In the campaign under review the speaker spoke of a number of persons who were associated with the Lord Jesus in His crucifixion.
After the message, a suitable hymn or chorus was sung, always one that would deepen spiritual impressions, and then the meeting was closed in reverent prayer. An opportunity was given for the children, if interested, to have a private conversation about eternal matters with the speaker or the teachers, but no emotional appeal was made.
The children were dismissed a row at a time, in a quiet and orderly manner so as not to take the edge off the messages.