Thanksgiving is coming, and I ca seem I’m getting quite a bit of traffic on my Thanksgiving Service posts from years past. So, what I thought I’d do is give us all some framework for how we go about planning our thanksgiving services.

And to answer your question, YES! You need to do a Thanksgiving service! We have too much to be thankful for to simply overlook the holiday as the church. Thankfulness is something that is intertwined with who we are as Christ-followers. So, we must set the example for giving thanks in our culture.

There are two kinds of thanksgiving services. Most churches will simply use some of the time in the services before Thanksgiving. Then there are other churches who will do a Thanksgiving Eve service. Whatever kind of service you are responsible for planning, make sure to include aspects of giving thanks in all services before Thanksgiving.

What I mean is, even if you do a Thanksgiving Eve service, you should still include times of giving thanks in the weekend services before Thanksgiving. Many people go out of town for the Holiday, so you want to make sure they have a chance to give thanks before they take off.

We need to give people the opportunity to start the Holiday season with thankfulness.

So, here are the three areas that I see as necessities for our services.

  1. Give thanks for the work Jesus did on the Cross.
  2. Give thanks for provision (a la the first Thanksgiving) and blessing.
  3. Give people the opportunity to give their own thanks.

First, we give thanks for what Jesus did on the Cross. It’s the most amazing gift we could ever receive, therefore we must give thanks for it. There are a number of ways to do that. Obviously through worship music, but also through communion and reflection on scripture, artwork, readings, etc.

Second, even though many of the people in our communities are struggling right now, the majority of us still have it pretty good. We must give thanks for God’s provision for us personally, and for our churches, communities and nation.

Third, people need the chance to reflect and think about their life and what they are truly thankful for. If our thanksgiving is confined to the cross and standard thanksgiving topics, we don’t give people the chance to personalize the thanks. If it’s not personal, people will forget it as soon as they walk out the doors. If it’s not too big of a service, you could have an open mic. If it’s too big for that, give people a note card and invite them to write down what they are thankful for and post it somewhere at the front of the church. You could have people tweet what they’re thankful for, and using pro presenter, display them during an instrumental section of a a worship song. You could set up a blog post beforehand, make a QR code for it that people can scan then go to the post and leave a comment with their thanks.

There are probably hundreds of other ideas – would you leave your ideas in the comment section so we can all learn from you!

That’s about it, though there are a few other things to consider including:

  • If you’re going to have kids in your service, make sure to give them something to connect with. (ie Madame Blueberry from the Veggie Tales.)
  • Prayers for those aren’t as blessed as we are. (Those in our country who don’t have a job, are homeless, have terminal illnesses, etc.)
  • Prayers for those in the world who aren’t as blessed as we are, those who are living in captivity or don’t have the same freedom we do.
  • A chance to give back. We are entering into the most greed filled season of the year. Give people a chance to give back to start the Holiday season with the right paradigm.

 What have you done in your Thanksgiving Services?