Congregations Harness Calendar, Summertime Observances for Outreach
By Carl Stagner
Ideas and resources for outreach don’t always come from a seminar, an email, Pinterest, or a promo kit found in the church mailbox. Sometimes Church of God congregations simply look at the calendar and see what’s “coming soon.” Whether it’s Valentine’s Day childcare to give couples a free date night, an Easter egg hunt to bless local families with fun and safe recreation (with a witness, of course!), or a fall festival often offered in contrast with other late-October societal obsessions, the entire year offers opportunities—especially in the United States and Canada—for capturing the attention of the community. With graduation season kicking off the summer, Father’s Day and Juneteenth and Independence Day in the United States up next, and Labor Day on the horizon—not to mention baseball games happening in neighborhood fields and in ballparks everywhere (some using church property)—there are plenty of calendar-driven emphases to harness for the good—and several Church of God congregations this year have done just that.
To acknowledge the hard work of graduates in their midst, New River Community Church of God in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, held a “Graduation Sunday.” Like many Church of God congregations, on this special Sunday early in the summer season—though technically prior to solstice—graduates wore their academic regalia in recognition of their accomplishments; together they stood before the congregation as prayers were lifted to bless the future God holds for each of them. Though these blessed-and-highly favored students weren’t the object of worship that Sunday, the utilization of the Sunday morning gathering provided place and time to invite friends and family to the worship service for noble purposes and evangelistic exposure.
Following Father’s Day (don’t most churches do at least something in recognition of Father’s Day?), the offices of Church of God Ministries were closed on Monday, June 20, for Juneteenth. Church of God social media noted the historical significance: “We recognize June 19, 1865, as the day when news of the Emancipation Proclamation (September 22, 1862) finally reached Galveston, Texas (learn more at www.juneteenth.com). May we continue to ‘proclaim freedom for the captives…[and] the year of the LORD’s favor!’ (Isaiah 61:1–2).” But “Base Camp” wasn’t the only Church of God ministry celebrating this important holiday.
Bethel Family Worship Center in Kansas City, Missouri, and Solid Rock Community Church in Kissimmee, Florida, faithfully mark the date—often called “Freedom Day”—through special music, baby dedications, discussion panels, and other ceremonial moments built into worship services. This year, South Church of God of Liberal, Kansas, was represented at a community Juneteenth observance; often Church of God congregations demonstrate community involvement not by initiating or hosting events, but by participating in events already taking place.
South Church of God also participated in the community “4th of July” celebration and parade, representing Christ and congregation with class. Other Independence Day events served as connecting points for community and church across the United States; three days following Canada Day, observed also by many of our precious congregations, churches in the United States also exhibited patriotism with grounded perspective of their citizenship in the eternal kingdom of God.
Teays Valley Church of God celebrated Independence Day by inviting neighbors on July 3 to enjoy free hot dogs, lots of fun for the whole family, and, yes, fireworks. All they asked was that guests of the church “please bring a lawn chair.” Similarly, St. Johns Church of God in Michigan, though not providing the fireworks themselves, hosted a “Fireworks Watch Party” in close proximity to a public display. “We will have food, face painting, and fun leading up to fireworks. Free and open to all!” What a great way for the church to connect with their community!
Last year included another exciting Labor Day weekend for many Church of God congregations, but especially Third Street Church of God in Washington, DC. A fishing excursion offered fun and fellowship for the believers, a chance to demonstrate the depth of character among the saints to the surrounding, watching world. Posted on the church’s social media, it was “A wonderful day of fishing, fellowship, and fun, sponsored by the [church’s] men’s [ministry]. Our Labor Day fishing trip has become an annual tradition of Third Street Church of God.”
How will other churches connect with their congregants and the community this Labor Day? How will they love like Jesus loved and serve like Jesus served? Time will tell. Stay tuned!
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Teays Valley Church of God giving away hot dogs prior to their fireworks display for the community.