Plan a Thanksgiving worship service focused on gratitude and community involvement. Encourage participation with open mic readings and testimonies, make newcomers feel welcome, and consider including a communal meal.
Have you stared at a blank page (or screen) when it comes to planning a Thanksgiving worship service? With so much attention (rightly so) going to the Advent & Christmas season, ministry during the Thanksgiving season can sometimes be overlooked.
With so many other ministry responsibilities, Planning a Thanksgiving worship service can be a difficult task.
In a poll from 2022, it was found that most plan community events or a community meal, while some also take the time to plan a Thanksgiving worship service that focuses on specific themes.
Most resources are dedicated to Christmas/Advent which leaves churches wanting for Thanksgiving-specific resources. So when it comes to it, how can you create an impactful Thanksgiving worship service?
Determining the focus of the Thanksgiving worship service gives a clear direction to move forward. When you land on a theme, you can then build your service (structure and specific elements) around that theme.
Creating a clear frame helps you decide what you should do and more importantly, what you shouldn’t do.
Putting an emphasis on gratitude will make planning easier and free up creative ideas. Dedicating a whole service allows your people to go deeper and see all they have to be thankful for.
A worship service is not a spectator sport. When the church gathers, it’s to participate in an experience together, it’s not a performance. Why does this matter? It reminds us that we are a part of a community and that we belong.
Promoting participation gives a tangible reminder of this truth. The holidays can be a lonely time for some people. When you provide tangible reminders of community, this can strengthen and encourage those who may feel a lack of it around this time.
So how do we do this? Look for moments throughout your service that rely on participation:
Whatever it is, look for ways to promote participation when planning a Thanksgiving worship service.
The holidays in general, and Thanksgiving in particular, are popular times for guests to visit your church. Whether it’s family members from out of town or people from your community, thinking about guests is an essential part of planning a Thanksgiving worship service.
One of the ways to do this is to plan the service, and then “experience it” as a guest. This means visualizing every element of the service and asking yourself, “How would this feel if I was new here?”
Would you understand what was happening? Is the language easy to understand? Would you feel welcome? Would you feel alienated? Use this process to get a sense of how your Thanksgiving worship service will feel to guests and then make adjustments where necessary.
Most importantly, ensure you provide a next step. Be clear on the details of how they can plug in over the next month. You may consider a special Christmas insert, a page on your mobile app (possible now with Flex Content), or a QR code on the screen they can scan that lists every event happening this Christmas season at your church.
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There is a lot of significance in your community sharing a meal. Some of the most powerful moments of Jesus’ ministry happened over a meal.
While planning a Thanksgiving worship service focuses on the service itself, don’t ignore the opportunity to include a meal.
Including a meal after your service can provide some of the following:
While this adds additional work and takes more resources, including a meal as a part of your Thanksgiving worship service can be a tremendous blessing to those who join you.
Below are service elements you can consider as you’re planning a Thanksgiving worship service. Whether they find a place in your service or act as a springboard for creativity, we hope they’re helpful.