Seven Ways to Engage Your Neighbors this Thanksgiving
Posted Nov 17, 2016 by Kris Eldridge in Missions
What comes to mind when you hear the word “Thanksgiving?”
- Eating way too much
- Stomach aches
- Pilgrims and Indians
- Long holiday travels
- Giving Thanks
Like the above, giving thanks can easily move to the bottom of our priority list and can affect how we live life during this holiday. That is unfortunate because as the people of God, we have more to be thankful for than anyone else. Not that watching football or enjoying good food is bad, because they are not.
My concern, however, is that we are not keeping our eyes on the main things: thankfulness and mission. I have so much for which to be thankful because of Jesus and my relationship with Him.
But, I can’t stop with thanks. My thankfulness is not an end in itself. Rather, my thankfulness should always point others toward Jesus! Thanksgiving will be here really soon. Let’s use it as a time to engage and point others to the One for which we are thankful! Here are a few ideas:
- Give to the hungry
Begin by looking around you. Is there a neighbor, a coworker, a friend, or other person that might be in need of some extra help? Maybe there is a widow or single parent who could use a bag of groceries. Or, maybe there is a shelter or nonprofit that needs assistance with food collection and/or volunteer service.
- Invite others to your home
Invite others to your home for Thanksgiving. Invite someone in need. Or, invite someone who is lonely, isolated or new to the area. Our culture is extremely transient, and families constantly move into new areas with no connections or community support. Consider inviting an international student from a local college. There are many international students in the U.S. who would love to sit down and share a meal with an American family.
- Throw a party!
Jesus loved to go to parties! Shortly after Matthew the tax collector started following Jesus, he had a large party and invited all his tax collector friends to meet Jesus. We can do the same at Thanksgiving. The night before Thanksgiving, roast a turkey and ask folks from your neighborhood to bring a side dish or a dessert. If roasting a turkey is too much, have a dessert theme and ask everyone to bring their favorite dessert. This event is a great opportunity for neighbors to get to know one another. Use this get-together to share a testimony of your thankfulness for Jesus!
- Contact your local school system
Identify a local school and contact the principal or social worker and ask them for the names of some needy families. Then, provide Thanksgiving baskets for them or invite them to your home for a Thanksgiving meal.
- Host a block party
As a church or with your Sunday school / community group, throw a block party for an identified demographic. For instance, is there a refugee population around you? Most states have designated refugee relocation areas. Is there a large homeless population in your community? One church I know of throws a Thanksgiving party for the homeless in an area park. What about a public housing unit or apartment complex with much poverty? Throw a party for them!
- Have a community football game
Instead of watching football, invite your neighborhood / subdivision to play football as a group, at a public green-space. Provide hot chocolate, coffee, and light snacks.
- Hand out leftovers
If you are like me and my family, we normally have a ton of leftovers after the Thanksgiving meal. Instead of eating every variation of turkey imaginable for an entire week, package the turkey into sandwiches and share with those in need. “Those in need” could be the homeless man, woman, or child standing on the street corner. Or, “those in need” could be the day laborer standing out in the cold.
What about you? What are your plans, or what are other ideas to engage people at Thanksgiving?
Community Outreach Pastor
Fellowship Bible Church