Many Baptist churches schedule a homecoming each year. A homecoming service can be a great opportunity for a congregation to celebrate God’s past faithfulness over the congregation, recognize the present ministry of the church and look to the future in hopes that the best days of the church are ahead.
Like anything else the church has done over several years or decades, homecomings can fall victim to the curse of familiarity. Unfortunately, things that become familiar often become neglected and even ignored. The result is that the church misses an opportunity for what could be a great day in the life of the faith family.
Your homecoming doesn’t have to be that way. There is a way to capitalize on this annual gathering for a strategic way in the life of a congregation. Consider these possibilities for making the most of a church homecoming:
- Remember to involve many people in planning the homecoming. Like most things we do in the body of Christ, they are usually done more effectively when many people are involved in the planning and implementation. Decide early on if you want to have a theme for your homecoming and what you hope the results of this meeting will be. Do you want to use it as a time to encourage your regular attendees to become members? Would you like to raise money for a worthy ministry or project? Would you like to launch a major initiative of the church? Determining the goal of your meeting will aid in planning. Involving others may also impact attendance. Evangelists have long known the 1:3 ratio for event planning. For every person who has a role to carry out in the event, you can expect three people in attendance. Involve other key leaders.
- Remember the church’s history. What is your church known for? Have you planted other congregations over the years? Has your church experienced a strong mission-giving tradition? Have men and women answered the call to ministry and gone out from the church over the history of the congregation? If so, bring in some charter members, or longtime members, from that church to help you celebrate. Does the church have a history of sending missionaries or of pastors being called out? If so, consider having one of them join the service that day, either live or virtually, or even by video, to remind them of the mission of the church and its impact beyond their local community. Consider bringing in believers who were saved and baptized in the church and hear their testimony. The KBC can aid you in determining the number of folks who have been baptized or joined the church over the years. Take advantage of this opportunity to remember your history.
- Remember the church’s mission: At your homecoming, take the time to read the history of the congregation and remind the members why this church was started in the first place. If that original reason remains relevant, and it likely does, then use the homecoming to re-anchor the church in its founding mission and purpose. While pastoring First Baptist Church in Oak Grove, I discovered the summarized history of the congregation. First Baptist started from the neighboring Olivet Baptist congregation in 1953. The stated reason for the start was “to reach soldiers and their families with the gospel” (Oak Grove is the host town to the Fort Campbell military post). The church needed to remember its original mission and recommit to it on a regular basis.
Instead of your church’s homecoming being “business-as-usual,” consider making it an impactful day in the life of the congregation by involving many people in the planning, remembering the church’s history and remembering the church’s mission. The Lord may use a church homecoming to help your congregation celebrate the past and move faithfully into the future.