The holiday season often provides even more avenues for churchgoers to serve. Here are some ways to help people in the pews move to service.
By Aaron Earls
The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to encourage churchgoers to actually do what they say they want to do—serve others.
While there are likely numerous service opportunities in your congregation and your church throughout the year, the holiday season often provides even more avenues for churchgoers to serve.
More than 4 in 5 churchgoers say their church encourages every adult to serve people not affiliated with their church (84%) and say they want to serve people in their community not affiliated with their church to hopefully have opportunities to tell them about the gospel (86%), according to Lifeway Research.
Despite this encouragement and stated desire, only 30% of churchgoers say they participate in any type of volunteer work for a charity (ministry, church, or non-ministry).Only 30% of churchgoers say they participate in any type of volunteer work for a charity (ministry, church, or non-ministry). Click To Tweet
November and December can give churches the opportunity to help churchgoers’ actions catch up to their intentions. Here are some ways to help people in the pews move out into service.
Pray (and pray again)
Before you ask your church to serve, ask them to pray for how they could best serve. Ask God to show you where you can best serve Him in your community. There may be an overwhelming number of needs you could seek to address, but ask God to help you focus on the needs He has specifically equipped your congregation to meet.
Churchgoers who are already invested through their prayers will find it easier to become physically invested through their service because they’ll recognize how God led your church to those specific needs. If God is present in your community service, that will only increase the excitement among members to become involved.“Churchgoers who are already invested through their prayers will find it easier to become physically invested through their service.” — @WardrobeDoor Click To Tweet
Announce (and announce again)
You may feel like saying it once during the worship service announcements, adding it to the bulletin or worship guide, sending out an email, asking small group leaders to mention it, and including it on all your social media accounts will be enough to keep people informed about service opportunities. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
If you want everyone in your church to know about an opportunity to serve, use every possible means to communicate it to them and do so repeatedly and in different ways. If you believe the project would be best suited to a specific group, target them where they are in your church in multiple manners.
People come to church with dozens of projects on their minds. They leave thinking about all the tasks they need to do at their homes and their jobs. Make it easy for them to remember the opportunities for service by repeating them and giving them plenty of notice to plan accordingly.
Plan service opportunities at your church
Your churchgoers are already accustomed to coming to your building. If possible, take advantage of that by hosting service projects at your campus. Pack meal boxes for food-insecure children. Fill shoeboxes for international Christmas ministries or bags of toiletries for prisoners. Think of ways you can bring the service to your church.
Having projects at your building removes a barrier for churchgoers who may be hesitant to travel somewhere unfamiliar or serve with people they don’t know.
Partner with local ministries
Some churchgoers may prefer to come to your building, but others may want to go somewhere different. Pull up a map of your community or the closest town and find Christian ministries that are already serving in your area. Ask them how your church can come alongside them in what they are already doing.
A local crisis pregnancy center may need help providing gifts for women walking through an unplanned pregnancy. A food bank could need someone to sort their donations. Could the homeless shelter use someone to clean or serve meals? Find those local ministries and point your churchgoers to those opportunities.
Ask area schools about needs
A good way to find some hidden needs in your community is to ask principals or other local school leaders. They may know of a specific family who lost their home to a fire and needs help with Christmas gifts. They could point you to ways your church could provide meals for kids who need something when they are away from school lunches.
Forge relationships with the local schools. Go above and beyond to meet their needs with your church family. You’ll have much greater access to help and serve the school and those families in the future.“Forge relationships with the local schools. Go above and beyond to meet their needs with your church family.” — @WardrobeDoor Click To Tweet
Don’t just plan projects that focus on individuals. Think about ways to incorporate entire families in service. School may be out and parents would need to bring their children with them anyway. This provides a chance to show kids the importance of giving back and living out their faith in the community.
Think through any service projects you have planned or are looking to form partnerships around. Make sure some of them can handle having some kids serve with the parents.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.