Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)
Homecoming is a special time as we reflect on all of the great cloud of witnesses that sacrificed for the Kingdom of God through our church. It is also a time to help us reflect on our lives, how others helped us, and what we are doing for the Kingdom. Here are some ways to help make homecoming special through Sunday School and Small Groups:
- Give time for people to share in class. This is a day to reflect. Perhaps Hebrews 12 or Romans 12 could set the stage for members of the class to discuss how God brought them to the church and the class. What are their dreams for the future, and what part do they play in making a Kingdom difference? This can be the beginning of something new. (I have heard of a senior adult class and young adult class meeting during Sunday School to share. It was transformational for both classes.)
- Honor persons who have made a difference in your life. In my former church, we took our young adult SS class to visit a homebound member who had loved on these young adults years before as their preschool teacher. (We had several join us that did not come to SS but wanted to participate. We brought thank you cards and a gift.) This wonderful saint was so surprised by all the persons she had influenced.
- During the invitation at worship have the class go and thank persons who mentored/encouraged them. This is a very moving experience. Many did not realize they had made such an impact.
- Show appreciation for your staff. Many churches have homecoming in October. It is clergy appreciation month. When was the last time that you showed gratitude for your staff? They are on call around the clock. They are always there during your crisis, but who comes to them in crisis? Show how much you appreciate them. Send them cards, provide based on their needs for the family, and offer tangible ways to show love. Here are some ideas:
- Do they have children at home? Offer to spend the evening taking care of their children while the couple goes out for a date.
- Show monetary appreciation. My first church could not provide for all of our needs. They, however, showered us with a love offering for my birthday in June and just before Christmas to help with Christmas gifts!! They also gave us lots of vegetables in the Summer from their garden!
- When they have served five or more years, give them a time away. I have seen this done with money for an extended vacation, sabbatical and even a trip to the Holy Land! (Yes, a son of a shut-in actually paid for my wife and me to go to Israel!)
Homecoming is to be a pivotal moment in the life of the church. How are you experiencing it and doing Kingdom work? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.