A local church may have set a record for attendance with its Easter Sunday service this week.
Jerry Lawson, lead pastor at Daystar Church, said around 3,000 people attended the service in the coliseum at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville.
“We’re not certain, but as far as we know that’s probably the largest-ever attendance of a worship service in Cullman County,” Lawson said. “We know there has never been a worship service that large at Wallace State, and Wallace has the largest venue in Cullman County. So that’s why we think it’s probably the biggest worship service in the history of the county.”
The church, which normally holds four weekend meetings, combined all four services into one Easter mega-event this week. Lawson said the service rivaled a rock concert with professional sound gear, concert-style lighting and high-tech video equipment. The church set up four large video screens so all the attendees could see the services clearly, he said.
“It was enormous. We basically had to organize about 300 volunteers over a six-week period to do it,” Lawson said.
Most of those volunteers worked on an advertising campaign to spread the word about the special service. Church members went door-to-door and fanned out at local retailers to distribute 30,000 “invite cards” telling people about the service. The church also put up 1,000 signs, leased several billboards, organized a “prayer walk” around the Wallace State campus, gave out 600 T-shirts and held a tailgate party with free food.
“For about a month, we just really had a lot of people out making it happen. It was a stellar event in the history of our church,” Lawson said.
The service itself was not all that different from a normal Daystar worship service, Lawson said. The church wanted to give its first-time attendees a picture of what the services would be like on a normal Sunday, with modern Christian rock music, audience participation and “illustrated sermons” that involve video, drama, music and teaching.
“It’s hopefully not as boring as what I grew up with,” Lawson said.
The pastor said having all the Daystar Church members in one place was inspiring. While the church has average attendance of roughly 1,200 on weekends, the attendees are divided between the four services so it feels like a smaller group.
“Being able to put everybody together in one service caught everybody’s attention. I don’t think anyone could grasp the concept of just how big it was until they saw that coliseum over half-full of people,” Lawson said.
“We were ecstatic to have 3,000 people there,” he said. “I’ve heard it said before, ‘If you want to see if God can work miracles, put yourself in a position where He will have to.’ For me, renting a 5,000-seat venue when you only have about 1,200 people is one of those situations. Our prayers were definitely answered.”
Lawson said around 200 people made “commitments to Christ” at the end of the service.
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