Hope 2018 Calendar
- Resolve. This new resource from the Ugly Duckling Company connects with people looking to review their life at a time of New Year Resolutions. It could be a great way to follow up the large numbers of people who join us for Christmas services. So you need to plan ahead to invite them!
- Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is not so much an evangelistic opportunity in itself but, if you are going to be working on Hope 2018 ecumenically, use this week to commit together to this and to pray.
- Valentines Day. A natural opportunity to do something for couples or for those married in your church in recent years. There are good courses available on marriage or on parenting. Or you could have a celebration with champagne, cake and maybe even popular wedding hymns; people sharing from their experiences of marriage at different stages of life and a talk based on a popular wedding Bible reading can make a great event, set out as a reception or in church. Some people value the opportunity to celebrate their marriage and for prayer for their future.
- Lent begins in late February and provides some very varied possible approaches.
- Try praying is a resource for people who are not part of a church and maybe do not pray much. People often share needs with congregation members who might well say, 'I'll pray for you'. Why not encourage them to add: 'we're celebrating Lent, a time of preparation up to Easter, why don't you try praying too and just see what happens?'
- Community / world action. Resources such as '40 acts' and Lent lunches give us ways to connect with people through acts of service or engagement in wider issues of justice and poverty.
- Holy Week. We hope to be able to offer Deanery missions as part of the focus in 2018 with Bishops / Senior Staff for all or part of a week. Holy Week can be a good opportunity for mission in some communities. (Easter 2018 = 1 April)
- Watoto Children's Choir. At some point over the Easter school holidays, this choir will be staying at Full Life Church in Maltby for a fortnight. If you would be interested in an event with Watoto, try contacting the church on 01709 818213. There are some associated costs but the quality of what the choir offers musically and in testimony is excellent.
- Watoto Children's Choir. See notes under March.
- Easter video / booklet. Hope's resource 'Who do you say I am' is available as a free download in video format, useful for Sunday services if you have AV facilities. The associated booklet is available from CPO here: 10 copies for £11.50 plus postage & packing.
- Thy Kingdom Come. Pentecost 2018 is Sunday 20 May. So the 10 days of prayer runs from Ascension Day 10 May, a time to focus on prayer for mission including the opportunity for people to have an encounter with Jesus Christ. Could you combine your week of prayer with some invitational events this year?
- Deanery Missions (see separate web page in this section). Our bishops are both keen to lead missions in deaneries in 2018, a follow on from Crossroads in 2015 but with flexibility over dates and the length of the mission. May is a good month for mission, with long days / light evenings.
- Deanery Missions (see separate web page in this section). See note above; again June is a good month for events, including outdoor events.
- Summer Fun Days. Lots of churches have summer fayres; could you move beyond stalls to include activities and some spiritual input? You will find some resources for planning such events on the Hope 2018 website
July & August
- Summer Fun Days. See note under June.
- Holiday Clubs. These take quite a bit of preparation and require a good number of volunteers (all with appropriate safeguarding checks) but they can be an excellent way to engage with a large number of children or young people for a whole week. Scripture Union and others publish excellent Bible-based themed materials. Many people concentrate their efforts on activity- / craft-based clubs with primary school age children and these have worked really well over the years. But it's also worth considering other resources for this age range (e.g. SU's Guardians of Ancora) and also thinking through youth age range clubs. The latter might run with a shorter spiritual input and then trips out, e.g. to theme parks, swimming pool, etc. If you are in an area of deprivation, you might be able to get significant help from Children in Need for such holiday clubs but you will need to start your application in autumn 2017, I think.
- Holiday at Home. Are there older people in your community who do not, for whatever reason, get away for a summer holiday? If so, why not consider a 'holiday at home'? This coulc be a week of activities or a series of one-offs through the summer holidays. Possibilities include: a film (maybe from their youth), tea dance, quizzes, cream tea, mystery tour, etc. You could theme events around virtually any hobby or interest. The key thing is to give a good welcome and to consider some appropriate next steps for anyone who wants to become either more a part of your community or to explore Christian faith.
- Deanery Missions (see separate web page in this section). See note above; September can work well for missions, in that there is a good period up in the autumn for enquirers or new Christians to explore the faith.
- Harvest. See notes under October, since that is probably the more likely month for most churches to celebrate it
- Deanery Missions (see separate web page in this section). See note above.
- Harvest. Share a meal from World Vision is an idea for harvest - 'you eat; they eat; a child eats' says the headline here. Invite friends or your community to enjoy food and conversation and donate the cost of the meal to help vulnerable children.
- Courses to help people explore Christianity. Autumn can be a good time to run Alpha, Christianity Explored, Emmaus, Start, etc. (whichever 'brand' suits your church best). Some churches will say, 'We have tried but nobody wants to come'. Sometimes this is the reality but what can you do to help such courses to go well? Firstly, pray! Then prepare the people you have got - the congregation; build up their confidence that it will be a good course, encourage them to invite one person and to accompany them; prepare those who will lead the course and aim to create a real sense of hospitality (both in terms of the venue and the attitudes of the people involved). In other words ... putting on a course like this requires a bit of forward planning, even if the content is available 'off the shelf'.
- Remembrance. 2018 is likely to have an enhanced focus, being 100 years since the guns fell silent in WWI. Hope has produced excellent resources for Remembrance in the past, so look out for these again.
- Annual Bereavement Service. Some churches keep All Saints Day or All Souls or the Sunday nearest as a time to hold a special service for all those who have experienced a bereavement in their parish in the past year. A simple afternoon or evening service where the names are remembered, candles can be lit, and people can be reminded again of the Christian hope in the resurrection can communicate our on-going care for people in their grief and loss.
- Fireworks. Probably best not to make too much of a historical connection with the events that inspire Bonfire night! With the right health & safety in place, an event with fireworks might still be a good invitational opportunity. Alternatively you could maybe provide good refreshments a place from which to watch, if there is a public display not far from your church and make soemthing of the time together.
- Christmas! Given its commercialisation, it's sometimes hard to focus on what Christmas is really about, but it is still the time when we see more visitors in church than at any other point in the year. Here are 3 golden rules for making the most of existing services: 1. Make sure people feel welcome; this is much more than saying 'welcome' - create a real sense of ambience / special event, think through the service so that it's easy to follow for those less familiar with church, and look like you are enjoying it! 2. Resist the temptation to leave out the sermon; many people have lost touch with the core meaning of Christmas - tell them why we are celebrating and what it can mean for them. 3. Think through in advance what you could invite them to next and have this ready for them to take away (e.g. Resolve - see January). This applies to carol services, Christingle, crib services, Midnight Mass and Christmas Day itself; it's one extended season full of very accessible good news and I think we often underplay just how amazing it is ...
- Taking Christmas outside of the church building. Some churches (e.g. St Polycarp Malin Bridge, St Francis Bramley) have used the tradition of Posada creatively in the past few years - life size or small figures of the holy family 'doing the rounds' in the community - in schools, shops, families - maybe linked to social media responses. For those who would like to know more, there is a Grove Booklet in the Evangelism series on this (EV114 - here). Think about other ways to use carols. Some people already go round the parish singing carols, but what about 'beer and carols' in the local pub or a flash mob singing carols in a shopping precinct?