Church #44. Meet Lent. It starts with Ash Wednesday, March 6. For Epiphany, St. John’s Lutheran Church, where I serve as the associate pastor of faith formation, and around 100 churches took part in a project called “Why Jesus?”
Looking into the Narrative Lectionary stories and thinking about Why Jesus?, St John’s decided to address the question for Lent of “How, Jesus? Being a Servant Like You: Learning it & Living it!”
More fully, Sunday morning services are about “learning” how Jesus leads a servant life style, and Wednesday Lenten services are about how we are “living” it out. Lay people will share their stories at the Lenten services, specifically through the lens of food insecurity, food scarcity, and those affected and involved with these ministries.
What I love about Lent and Holy Week is the opportunity to do something different. Congregations can use this time to create community, connect the generations, and grow faith in new ways!
Five Community Builders for Lent and Holy Week:
- Host a Fat Sunday like a Fat Tuesday event. Make it a congregational-wide carnival event with free-will donation for pancakes and coffee, play bingo, fun music, and of course, beads. Have a bead craft on-hand for little ones!
- Start a Lenten Mentors program. Confirmation students find someone other than a relative to attend Lenten services with them. At the end of the service, students and their mentor reflect together on what they just heard. Have questions ready to go!
- Connect Sundays to Wednesdays. It’s God’s story that connects the generations. It’s the starting point. So whatever text is preached on Sunday, flesh it out more fully at the Lenten service. Ask lay people to tell their stories to make concrete connections.
- Do one big thing! It will give your congregation focus, build anticipation, and something experiential to try. As shared above, Lenten services at St John’s is through the lens of food insecurity and servanthood. By weaving together the idea of living as a servant and March Foodshare Month, we have set a goal to collect 1,000 pounds of food. On Sunday, March 31 all ages will participate in a prayer labyrinth. Pray for the food before it is donated!
- Be experiential! Do a Maundy Thursday, Dinner Church or an interactive Good Friday service. Create storytelling or art pieces to accompany the text. People enter the story in all different ways so sometimes it needs to look, feel, and be different than a regular Sunday morning experience.
If your church does something new and different for Lent, please be sure to leave a message in the comments below. It would be great to share it!