For most in the United States, Independence Day is a day of fireworks, picnics and fun. How can your church help applaud the birth of our nation while keeping Christ the center of your celebration?
1. Participate in a parade.
Parades are a traditional way to celebrate almost any holiday. If your community hosts an Independence Day parade, enlist volunteers to ensure your church’s participation.
Parents, children and other church members may enjoy walking the route carrying a banner with your church’s name and information on it. Particularly creative and industrious members of your congregation may want to build a parade float. Either way, check with parade organizers to see if you can hand out candy and fliers with your church information.
If your community doesn’t have a Fourth of July parade, consider hosting one of your own. It can be as simple as enlisting the children in your congregation to march down the center aisle waving American flags, or host a bicycle and wagon parade. Encourage parents to help their children decorate their vehicles, and then let the kids parade around the parking lot after the service.
For an unconventional take on the parade theme, consider asking your congregation to take part in a prayer parade, also known as a prayer walk, on or in the week preceding July 4. Divide volunteers into small groups and walk the neighborhoods surrounding your church, taking turns praying out loud for the people and leaders in your community.
2. Get together with your small group.
A celebration isn’t a celebration without friends and family. Urge your congregation to observe the holiday in fellowship with their small groups.
Sunday school classes and other Bible study groups can participate in potlucks or picnics or arrange to attend an outing together. Many minor and some major league baseball teams host faith and family nights, and some communities offer free concerts in the park or fireworks displays in July. Attend as a group, but take advantage of the festive atmosphere by getting to know and including others. Don’t forget to invite them to your next small group meeting.
3. Make plans for multicultural worship.
Thank God for the variety of individuals who make up the United States by planning a multicultural service. Ask individuals from different ethnic backgrounds to offer prayers, Scripture reading and other elements of the service. Include songs from a variety of cultures.
Invite members of your congregation to bring ethnic dishes to serve at a potluck following the sermon. Use the opportunity to invite friends and family from other cultural backgrounds to celebrate America’s diversity with you.
4. Design an Independence Day display.
Welcome your congregation with a thoughtful statement on your church sign, such as:
- In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. (40 characters)
- Please pray for our troops — wherever they may be. (52 characters)
- The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war. (52 characters)
- Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. (70 characters)
- If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. (75 characters)
You also could include a more elaborate display in honor of the holiday. Psalm 9:1 says “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Using that verse as a backdrop, ask volunteers to design a special bulletin board or table display outlining several of America’s important historical elements.
Use 1 Corinthians 1:4, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,” to honor servicemen and women. Ask veterans or family members to contribute photos or memorabilia that you can include in the display.
5. Include Independence Day elements in worship.
While the primary component of any worship service is and should be Jesus, there are a few simple ways you can honor and thank God for our country during your Sunday service. Consider using one or two of these:
- Preach an Independence Day sermon.
- Check out Independence Day Worship Resources from Discipleship Ministries to include patriotic music, prayers and liturgies during worship.
- Invite servicemen and women to wear their uniforms to worship.
- Incorporate a special time of prayer for the nation and its leaders.
- Ask children or teens to recite a patriotic poem or provide a short recitation of U.S. history.
John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Given that, Christians have much to celebrate on Independence Day. Celebrate with enthusiasm, thanking the Lord not only for the freedom you have in Christ but also for American independence.
Tricia Brown has been a freelance writer and editor for more than 20 years, ghost-writing and editing for individuals as well as for health, education and religious organizations. She enjoys reading, writing and public speaking commitments in which she teaches and encourages other women.