The only way to build community in your local church congregation is to get people together. Isolation breeds loneliness and will stunt any progress we as church leaders are trying to see in and among our people. Working together, praying together, serving together, and loving together is essential to the growth of the church, as well as the discipleship of individuals in the congregation.
Here are the Top 10 Church Events that will lead you through the year with gusto, bringing people together for a shared purpose, and letting them see God in one another.
- Church Potluck Meal: Nothing is as friendly and non-threatening as a meal together. Young and not-so-young alike will flock to the buffet table, returning to their seats with plates piled high and spirits engaged in the chance to fellowship with old friends and new. Make sure to organize the bringing of food so that there is a good distribution of mains, sides, and desserts. And don’t forget the plates and plasticware!
- Fall Ministry Kickoff: Aside from Christmas and Easter, the Sunday after Labor Day in September is the largest attended church service of the year. In parallel with the school academic year, the church often starts its new ministries in the fall. Plan to gather volunteers and others involved in all the ministries (i.e. women’s Bible studies, Kids’ Club, choir, prayer groups) for a kick-off event that will garner excitement for the new programming and help to set expectations for volunteers and leaders.
- Prayer Meetings: We must bring the needs of our church before the Lord. One of the best ways to do this is through prayer meetings. Encourage people with shared interests or in similar life stages to gather and pray for things that are relevant to them. Encourage them to share answers to prayer within the group and also with the larger church. This will create more enthusiasm for prayer and will see your church connect with God more deeply.
- Worship Night: Gather people together in the evening to have an intentional time of praise and worship. This can include singing, Scripture reading, prayer, or open times of sharing. Gather at the church or at someone’s home. The night’s design can be consistent with your church tradition and the ages of the people gathered. The night can be structured or free, depending on what will help your people connect most authentically with the Savior.
- Missions Celebration: Most churches support a variety of missionaries, cross-cultural workers, or outreach organizations. Once a year it is important to help the congregation learn more about these faithful servants. Bring some of the missionaries home to share their stories of God’s faithfulness at a special service. Treat them to some rest and relaxation provided by various church members. Let them display their visual wares at tables for everyone to see. Have an international meal with foods from around the world. Make it a celebration of how God is working in the neediest of places across the globe.
- Christmas Pageant: Everybody loves to watch little kids re-enact the Christmas story and sing Christmas carols. Choose a special person from the congregation to organize a Christmas program that is consistent with your church tradition. Make sure there is lively music and elaborate costumes and the opportunity for moms and dads to take lots of photos. Finish the night off with cookies and punch for everyone. Make it a community-friendly activity to invite those who may not otherwise go to church to come and be embraced by the love of your members.
- Community Service Day: A wonderful activity for the springtime, a day of service in the community can not only be helpful to those in need, but also can spread joy to those who are desperate and without hope. Partner with a local elementary school to provide school supplies or meals. Find elderly or other disadvantaged people in the area and volunteer to cook or clean for them. Visit a local women’s shelter. Make blankets for the homeless. Anything you do together as a church will build strong bonds and create shared experiences that will benefit the family of God.
- Easter Egg Hunt: Easter is one of the two biggest church days of the entire year. Parents love to dress up their young ones in frilly dresses and pastel-colored suits and bring them to church. To make the holiday even more family friendly, consider having an Easter Egg Hunt open to the community on the Saturday before Easter. Send out flyers and invite everyone in the surrounding neighborhoods. Have lots of candy for all the kids, feed them lunch, and invite them to church the next day. Love on the children and show their parents just how much you genuinely care for them as a family.
- Volunteer Thank You Banquet: It is very likely that you have dozens (hundreds?) of volunteers that have served in your ministries throughout the year. It is a wonderful idea to honor them and thank them at the end of the ministry year. This could take place in May before everyone goes on vacation, or it could take place in August before the beginning of the new ministry year. No matter when you decide to have this event, make sure it is well done and has good food, a nice program, and an intentional time to say a genuine thank you to everyone present.
- Summer Family Camp: Getting together as a church family during the summer can cultivate a sense of community during a time of year when church attendance is sporadic and other normal church events are on hiatus. You can rent a block of sites at a campground and people can bring their tents and campers. Or you could rent a lodge and have people stay in cabins or other hotel-like accommodations. Bring in a speaker to challenge and inspire your people. Have lots of games and free time during which people can get to know one another better and build strong friendships. Shared experiences like this can make memories that last a lifetime.