Led by the retailers, Thanksgiving often gets mowed down by Christmas. This year, make Thanksgiving a priority. Here are some ideas for worship and outreach.
- Read the Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln's 1863 announcement is a good reminder of the purpose of Thanksgiving Day.
- Raise an Ebenezer (not Scrooge!). Invite the congregation to build a monument to God's faithfulness with messages on paper-covered bricks or on a butcher-paper-covered wall.
- Give thanks Jewish style. Using Psalm 136 as a model, invite worship attenders to take turns saying in one sentence a way God has blessed them. Then have the congregation respond after each one, "His faithfulness is everlasting."
- Reconnect. The lull before the Christmas rush is a fine time to send notes to those who haven't been at church lately. Let them know that your church is thankful for them.
- Prayer vigil. Open the church building for families to come to pray together for a short while. Provide prayer sheets listing special needs, such as military personnel.
- Publish glad tidings. If you keep a record of prayer requests and answers, compile the praises and share them in worship.
- Record a video diary. A couple of Sundays before Thanksgiving, take a video camera, roam the halls and ask attenders what they're thankful for. Or set up a video confessional closet like on the reality TV shows. Show the clips in the service, laugh a little, and pass the Kleenex.
- Pie and praise. One church we know has an old tradition of baking their favorite pies and sharing them, along with prayers of thanks, on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.
- Thanks on parade. Stage your own Macy's parade with kids and balloons that represent things they're grateful for. Or put Hebrews 11 on foot, kids in costume as heroes of our faith.
- Remember the persecuted church. Contact Voice of the Martyrs or your own missions organizations for stories and prayer needs.
- 5 kernels each. At one point, the pilgrims had such meager rations. Give worship attenders five kernels of popcorn (unpopped) and ask them to consider their great blessings, compared to the pilgrims and to so many in the world today.
- Pass the peace pipe. Invite a Native American believer to tell how churches can reach out to residents on Indian reservations.
- Go wild. Have a wild game dinner featuring venison, "free-range turkey," and "first Thanksgiving" foods. Invite hunters.
- Collect something. Place a cornucopia on the table up front and invite worship attenders to stuff it with baby products for the crisis center or socks for the homeless shelter. Anything but squash.
- Wrap it up. Head to the mall the day after Thanksgiving and set up a free gift-wrapping station. Include a card with information about your church and your upcoming holiday services.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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