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FIRST-PERSON: Be thankful together

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) — Thanksgiving is a great time to remind our hearts of the importance of expressing our gratefulness to God and to each other. As 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, we’re to be “thankful in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In our home, we look forward to Thanksgiving as a day when we invite anyone around us who doesn’t have family nearby to come to our house to celebrate. Some years we have our family plus three or four friends, other years we have upwards of 25 around a table eating and playing games for the day. It’s one of our favorite family ministry opportunities as we gather friends to intentionally spend the day investing in their lives.

Want to expand your family holiday to make an impact on the Kingdom? Here are a few fresh ideas to get you going.

— Think through your guest list. Think about college students whose families are far away. International students who would be thrilled to experience an “American holiday.” A young married couple desiring to start new traditions. Your neighbors who tend to keep to themselves. A coworker whose marriage is falling apart. The single mom who is struggling to provide for her kids. The homeless guy you pass when you walk downtown.

— Organize the meal plan, inviting everyone to bring their favorite dish to share.

— Have your kids make name cards for each place at the table so everyone feels a part of the family as you sit to eat together.

— Make a tree out of poster board and put it on the wall. As your guests arrive, have them write on paper leaves things they are thankful for and attach the leaves to the tree. When you sit to eat, read out a few of the leaves and be thankful together.

— After you eat, give everyone a piece of paper and a pen. Start a timer and instruct everyone to take five minutes to make a list of things they are thankful for today. The kids can draw pictures or have an adult help them make their list.

— Select a movie to watch, board games to play or black Friday shopping plans to give everyone a reason to hang out for the day and just enjoy being together.

— Be intentional with every guest to talk about what you are thankful for this year and how you give the glory to God for every good thing.

— Be ready to share the Gospel clearly to each person if you are not 100 percent certain they know Jesus.

In whatever way you do Thanksgiving this year, make it intentional. Intentional to encourage others around you. Intentional to talk about God’s goodness. Intentional to share Jesus.

    About the Author

  • Autumn Wall

    Autumn Wall, online at www.autumnwall.com, is an author, speaker, worship leader, pastor’s wife and mom of three in Indianapolis. She is the co-author of “Across the Street and Around the World” (New Hope Publishers).

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