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12 Thanksgiving Church Outreach Ideas

12 Thanksgiving Church Outreach Ideas
Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, gratitude, and togetherness.

It’s also a wonderful opportunity for churches to strengthen their bonds with the community and spread the message of love and thanksgiving.

If you’re looking for ways to make this Thanksgiving season more meaningful for your congregation and your neighbors, we’ve got 12 creative ideas for church outreach, activities, events, serving opportunities, and services that can truly make a difference.

12 Thanksgiving Church Outreach Ideas

1. Community / Church Thanksgiving Dinner

Host a free Thanksgiving dinner for the people in your church and your community. This is an opportunity to help those who might not be able to afford a Thanksgiving meal, as well as to befriend and extend community to those who might otherwise spend Thanksgiving alone.

  • Encourage volunteers to help serve and create a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
  • Encourage your church people to sit and eat with people who are not a part of your church.
  • Encourage people to hang out after dinner by showing the football game or the dog show.

2. Thanksgiving Food Drive

Organize a food drive to collect non-perishable items and distribute them to local families in need.  Your church could also partner with a local food pantry that is already helping those in need of food. In addition to dropping off food, there may be opportunities to serve with food pantry volunteers, packing boxes or gift baskets for people in the community.

3. Thanksgiving Church Service Ideas

Many churches do a Thanksgiving Sunday service the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Some other Thanksgiving service ideas include:

  • Thanksgiving Day church service – Very few churches actually gather for church on Thanksgiving itself. Your church could have an 11am service with Thanksgiving dinner afterwards.
  • Thanksgiving Eve church service – With so may people out of town on Thanksgiving day and Thanksgiving weekend, another option would be to do a Wednesday night “Pie and Praise” service. Worship the Lord, and have everyone bring a pie to share afterwards.
  • Open Mic – Open up the service and give people the opportunity to (briefly) share what what they are thankful for this year.
  • Testimonies – Have a time in the service where people share their testimonies of how they came to follow Jesus and how grateful they are for God’s grace.
  • Thanksgiving scripture, hymns, songs, and prayer – There are lots of scripture passages, hymns, songs, and prayers related to Thanksgiving and giving thanks. More than enough to fill any church service or gathering.

4. Christian Thanksgiving Messages

More than likely, your pastor is going to preach a Christian Thanksgiving message during your Thanksgiving service. But people in your community may be open to hearing a Thanksgiving message at other times and through other means.

If your church is not gathering on Thanksgiving, your pastor could share a Thanksgiving devotional online on Thanksgiving day.  Or you could post Thanksgiving messages and devotionals throughout the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

5. Thanksgiving Youth Group Ideas

Thanksgiving is also a great opportunity to teach teens about gratitude, and have a lot of fun doing it.  Some Thanksgiving youth group games, activities, and service ideas include:

  • Thanksgiving scavenger hunt
  • Pumpkin pie relay race
  • Thanksgiving trivia game
  • Thank you drive-by. Load up kids in vehicles, drive by church member’s houses, say “Thank you!” Maybe give them a card, a treat, or a gift basket.
  • Thank you note writing. Provide blank “Thank You” cards and take 10-20 minutes for kids to write thank you notes to their parents, friends, and even God.

6. Thanksgiving Cooking Classes

Offer cooking classes to teach people how to prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal. This is especially helpful for those who are struggling to afford a feast.

7. Thanksgiving Craft Fair

Host a craft fair where church members can sell handmade items, and the proceeds can go towards a charitable cause.

8. Adopt a Family

Have your congregation “adopt” families for Thanksgiving, providing them with a full meal, including a turkey and all the fixings.

9. Prayer Walk

Organize a prayer walk in the community, praying for the well-being and thanksgiving of local residents.

10. Thanksgiving Care Packages

Create care packages with food and other essentials and distribute them to elderly or isolated community members.

11. Give Thanks in Action

Instead of words alone, challenge your congregation to show their gratitude through acts of kindness throughout the season. Provide opportunities for people to share stories of how God worked in them and through them while doing these acts of kindness.

12. Engage people with Thanksgiving in Social Media

Most people – even those who don’t yet follow Jesus – appreciate encouragement online in social media.  This is a great opportunity for your church to share Thanksgiving bible verses, scripture, and inspirational quotes and funny and inspiring Thanksgiving videos plus Thanksgiving messages and devotionals as mentioned earlier.

To maximize your reach, don’t just share them on your church’s social media channels, but encourage your people to share them on their social media channels so their friends will see them.

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. –Jacqueline Winspear

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No matter which Thanksgiving ideas your church uses for its outreach events, you’ll also want to promote those events online. Rather than share the same strategies at the bottom of every church outreach ideas article we write for every season and holiday, we’ll just point you to…

7 Ways to Promote Your Church Outreach Event Online

And if you’d like some help with a church website builderchurch web design or church SEO so you can have your best Thanksgiving ever, fill out the form below to schedule a call.

Comment and Discuss

  • What Thanksgiving outreach events is your church planning?

Want more church outreach ideas?  Church Outreach Ideas & Events for Every Holiday and Season

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.