What if your biggest attendance wasn’t Easter weekend? And instead, it was the weekend after. 

What if you created anticipation and excitement for a weekend guest speaker? And what if that guest speaker’s whole purpose was the draw in unbelievers and people who don’t know Jesus?

This life-changing weekend is exactly what Awaken Church in Wenatchee, Washington did this year after Easter. Pastor Daniel Kellogg asks and answers a very important question: “Why isn’t every week as important as Easter? Some pastors take the week after Easter off, but we should go big the week after Easter, and give people a reason to come back.”

Through a friend, Kellogg tossed out the crazy idea of asking if Dog the Bounty Hunter would come speak at his church. Dog, with his wife, Francie, said yes and agreed to come spend the weekend in Wenatchee, resulting in probably the coolest church service Awaken has ever had.

Awaken Church promoted their Dog weekend services on social media, and had people come in from all over the state. Bringing in a guest speaker showed Awaken the full capacity of their church, as people who’ve never been to church before came.

Dog drew in all these people from his TV program. According to Kellogg, “He is a massive celebrity, and I had no clue. I didn’t realize how many people looked up to this guy. We doubled our Easter numbers and there was a line of people waiting to get in an hour before church started. It was the roughest crowd I’ve ever seen.”

Kellogg knows bringing in a guest speaker like this is a risk. He explains it this way, “Dog is a rough guy with some wild beliefs. But he loves Jesus and he loves people. He says stuff that’s very unfiltered, but our church was receptive to that. He’s a guy I wish every church would have, but I don’t know if they could handle it. We literally had a smoking section in the back of our greenroom for him to smoke cigarettes. But man, he brought the whole place to Jesus.”

Dog the Bounty Hunter has reached more people that no pastor or evangelist can reach. He puts a perspective on Jesus that is uniquely different. Thinking back to how many lives were impacted during this weekend, Kellogg remembers, “In every service, there were hands all over the room. His call was amazing. I couldn’t tell you how many. Our altars were full every time we did an altar call. I’d love to give you a number, but I just don’t have one.”

People from the Dog event still attend Awaken Church. Kellogg says, “These two guys come every week and I have to literally sign their form for probation. This other guy is in recovery and hasn’t drank since the Dog event.” These are real people who experienced real life change from the gospel being presented from a speaker they were attracted to. 

Although the week of Dog the Bounty Hunter showed the highest attendance ever, the exact same weekend numbers revealed that giving was the lowest. This goes to show it was mainly non-church people who attended. Kellogg asked his church members to “save a seat for someone who doesn’t know Jesus.” This was his way of making seating available for the lost, broken people they were trying to reach by promoting their guest speaker. He says none of his church members were upset, and instead, they just watched online. Awaken Church also asked other churches in their area to not make it a big churchy thing, and explained the type of audience they were planning for. 

As a whole, the congregation of Awaken understood the impact having Dog as a guest speaker made. Kellogg proudly states, “It gave our church a mantle of who we are: a church for all people. God would rather have you messed up than not have you at all.” 

Kellogg says he doesn’t know what Dog would charge other churches to come speak, but that he only had to cover expenses for Dog and Francie. Although they didn’t require Awaken to give them anything, Kellogg and his team decided to give them $5,000 as a gift for coming. “For us, five grand is a big chunk of money to give someone for a weekend, and it’s not something we normally do. They tried to give us the check back, but giving them that gift was the right thing to do,” admits Kellogg. 

Having Dog the Bounty Hunter as their guest speaker the weekend after Easter was so successful this year, that Awaken Church has already planned to have Dog back again in 2025 for the weekend after Easter. Bringing in a guest speaker has its risks, but as Awaken Church can attest to, it also can make a tremendous Kingdom impact.

Kellogg encourages all pastors to take the risk: “The scariest part of it is going big and realizing what if no one shows up. I think not only dreaming big, but giving God some faith to work with. As we were doing that, you could feel the buzz in the church. It rallied everyone together. I would encourage people to take those risks, and even if you fail, the whole church sees that you’re trying. Everybody saw that I did everything possible to grab anyone possible. They knew I was going after lost people. Be specific. Take a risk. And fail big even if it doesn’t work out. But I bet you—it would. Just go for it.”

In summary, Awaken Church has experienced higher weekly attendance and higher weekly giving after bringing in this celebrity guest speaker. More information about Awaken Church and Pastor Daniel Kellogg can be found online at awakenwenatchee.com

About Dog: “Duane Lee Chapman, also known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, is an American television personality known for popular TV programs following his life and adventures as a bounty hunter.” More information about him can be found on his website: dogthebountyhunter.com

Dog and Francie with Pastor Daniel and Jessica Kellogg

Dog and Francie with Awaken Church staff