Last November I posted about rising gas prices and the possible effect on churches. Now $4-a-gallon gas seems like a bargain as rumors fly that gas will hit $5 to $7 per gallon by year end. Apparently Americans didn’t stop driving when gas hit $3 per gallon, but at $4 we’re starting to slow down. This bodes well for small neighborhood churches, and badly for those who have a long commute to church. What is your congregation doing as a result of rising gas prices?
Last year for our 150th anniversary, we scheduled one special Sunday celebration per month from January through July. Our sesquicentennial Sundays were so successful that we decided to schedule one special Sunday per month during 2008. Here’s what we did:
- We chose the same Sunday of each month. On the “Second Sunday” of each month, we schedule our special Sunday emphasis, followed by a covered dish lunch or a lighter salad bar lunch. Staying with the “second Sunday” helps our folks remember the schedule. The only exception to that was Mothers’ Day, and we moved the May event to the third Sunday. More about that later.
- The “calendar” sets the theme. We do seasonal celebrations, such as Parent-Child Dedication on Mothers’ Day. But, we also celebrate special Sundays on the liturgical calendar like the first time we celebrated Pentecost and asked everyone to wear red. Most of our members did not know that Pentecost was the birthday of the church, or that red was the liturgical color for that Sunday. But, almost everyone wore red, and it was a joyous worship experience.
- We focus on specific groups. We have celebrated Youth Sunday, Graduate Sunday, Parent-Child Dedication Sunday, Grandparents’ Sunday, and others. The idea is to recognize and involve different groups of people each time.
- We eat together after worship. We moved our monthly covered-dish meal from Wednesday night to the second Sunday, and it works much better. Attendance is better, more food is prepared, and more guests are invited. Sharing table fellowship strengthens the bonds of our church family, and gives us an opportunity to talk with others we might not otherwise visit with. And, by asking folks to bring food, even salad “fixins,” we’re creating an excuse to invite and include them. And it works!
- We make exceptions when we need to. Because Mothers’ Day is always on the Second Sunday, we moved our May meal to the third Sunday. Instead of lunch, we had breakfast at 9 am, with a guest choir concert from 9:30-10:30 am. Sunday School was cancelled that day, and we all ate and enjoyed the concert together, with plenty of time to move to worship at 11 am. Here are a couple of photos of that morning: