Around the Fireplace – January 2016

winter fireAn Icy New Year

by Kathy Copas
Coordinator of Communication and Evangelism

As I was rescheduling an iced-out evangelism meeting at a parish today, I got a fun challenge from a church friend.  “So,” she said. “You’re always talking about seeing church growth opportunities in every situation.  What sort of church growth opportunities are there in this awful icy and snowy weather—especially on Sundays when a lot of our parishioners can’t even get to church?”  Here are just a few I shared with her, for what they’re worth.

1. Embrace Your Neighborhood with Fun—Get out and look around, interact with your church’s neighbors. It is amazing how many people will wander by and stop to chat if you simply build a roaring fire and offer some hot chocolate or s’mores supplies.  Be creative, too.  If you have the space to do it, offer a snowman building contest with something simple (such as movie passes) for a prize. Take it community-wide by promoting it on social media. If you get several snowmen created, post pics and hashtag your local newspaper. Same thing with a snowball fight. If you’re lucky enough to have a sledding or snowboarding hill, have a couple of youth invite some of their friends and keep some adults around to help keep things safe and orderly.  Organize a neighborhood snow parade and lead it with your parish’s banner.

2,  Love Your Neighborhood with Good Deeds—What simple things could you do to help some church neighbors on a snow day?  Bring someone’s newspaper or mail to their front door.  Sweep the steps.  Clear a path on the walk or driveway.  Brush off a car.  Make cookies and deliver plates of them around.  Nothing too labor intensive—just a kind and simple gesture.  Leave a note that says “Love and warmth to you from your friends at xyz Episcopal Church (with your contact info).” Put up a sign and invite neighbors to a board game marathon or a spontaneous potluck.  As snow days wear on but adults begin trying to go back to work, how could you be present to the children in your neighborhood who are bored and at home without supervision?  Perhaps by opening up a drop-in place for stories or games one afternoon?  Valentine making and delivering?  Doing a project around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday?

3.  Broaden Your Horizons—If you are stuck in on a Sunday morning or, for example, a missed choir practice night, be creative about how you can take that time and turn the situation around.  Of course, you can worship in a different way (a special plug here for www.dailyoffice.org!) but there are other things you can do, too. Have you been missing someone at church lately or wondering about their absence?  Take this opportunity to make a personal phone call and check in.  Has someone you know been grieving or facing a life crisis such as a job loss or divorce?  Make a simple contact.  Are there things you have had on your church welcome bucket list, from making new church nametags to creating a hymnal insert or flier?  Now’s a great time to tackle it!   Is there good news, photos, or video you’ve been meaning to share with your wider community or local news media?  Post, tweet, pin, and hashtag away!

I’m sure you have ideas, too, andsince the snow and ice will likely hang on for a few more weeks yetplease share them at KathyCopas@aol.com so I can share them with others!  Until February, keep warm!

Kathy