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Eight Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Day

  1. Share stories of God’s grace: For ideas on how to do this, see crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits/faith-storytelling-toolkit.
  2. Symphony of praise: Invite children (and children at heart) to come forward and choose either a small percussive instrument, a flag, or a ribbon to use during a sung time of praise.
  3. Adapt Psalm 136: Begin with the first verses of Psalm 136 and continue its pattern by adding single-phrase testimonies to what God has done. A writer in your church could do this, or the youth group could write it and lead the congregation, or people could simply verbalize their praise without prior preparation as part of worship.
  4. Create a Thanksgiving tree: Put a leafless branch in a pot at the front of the church. Have enough pens and cut-out paper leaves with a string or pipe-cleaner loop available so each person in attendance can have at least one, invite people to write on them something they are thankful for, and hang them on the branch.
  5. Photo collage: A few weeks before the Thanksgiving service, invite congregants to take pictures of what they are thankful for and send them to the church. Create a collage or a slide presentation of those pictures. Use the collage as the bulletin cover or play the slide presentation during the offering.
  6. New collaborative hymn text: Invite different individuals or groups in your congregation to write a stanza expressing their thankfulness in a set meter (e.g., four lines with eight syllables in each line). Sing those stanzas to a familiar Thanksgiving tune.
  7. Worship pilgrimage: If your congregation is small enough, go from place to place within the church building or the community and offer prayers of thanksgiving. If stopping in the nursery, for example, give thanks to God for his faithfulness from generation to generation, or if stopping at a fire station, give thanks for all those who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to save others.
  8. Thanksgiving unplugged: There are times and situations when Thanksgiving falls in the context of grief and lament. In those situations, acknowledge the pain and allow it to be expressed, but then also spend time illuminating the places where there are still signs of hope and goodness. However, rather than expressing that thanksgiving with loud praise, do so with quieter songs such as a Taizé chant. Don’t gloss over the pain, but remember that we are a people of hope.