After the busyness of the holidays, many people experience a let-down as the new year begins. Christians are no different. Once the great expectations and celebrations of Christmas have passed, winter blues may set in. Here are a few ideas to help your congregation combat melancholy.
Address the elephant in the room
Studies report that up to 25% of people experience some form of post-holiday blues. Those who are already suffering from depression are, obviously, at an increased risk. It’s safe to say that some among your congregation will enter the new year feeling downhearted.
Because of ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus, 2021 may bring about a mixture of emotions. While there may be a sense of hope that the new year will bring access to a vaccine or cure, the winter months may also bring a greater fear of increased cases. Feeling isolated can magnify the problem.
By addressing these issues, you can help your parishioners understand that they’re not alone. Help your congregation face the new year with hope by providing prayers for the new year and other resources for those who may need more help.
Give them something to talk about
The second half of the year is jammed packed with events and holidays. Beginning with Independence Day and ending with Christmas, most Americans have a calendar full of activities.
After months of events, the prospect of a boring, mainly indoor winter may be deflating. By establishing resolutions, setting goals and planning for upcoming celebrations, you can help recreate the spirit of the holidays and generate excitement for the future. Promote missional activities, and plan for Valentine’s Day, Easter celebrations and VBS.
With increased safety concerns and CDC guidelines, event planning will take more creativity and effort than ever before. It’s never too early to start preparations. Incorporate online tools, such as Google Docs or Google Calendar, to help you stay organized. Recruit volunteers, and keep the congregation regularly updated on what’s going on. Working toward a common goal can lift spirits and offer something to look forward to.
Continue to communicate
Communication is key to promote cheer and unity in your church. Don’t drop the ball on social media efforts. January is a great time to create a social media calendar and to revisit your social media policies and guidelines. Consider social media resolutions and look for new ways to garner engagement among your followers. Use social media graphics and memes to promote positivity.
Take time to revamp your email list. Weed out inactive email addresses and add the new ones from your holiday services. Consider starting an email marketing campaign to fundraise or boost morale. Share devotionals or motivational stories. Update your newsletter design. Use online resources and tools to continue to build and maintain relationships with virtual worshippers.
Take stock of last year
Individually and corporately, it’s always a good idea to look back at the successes and failures of the past year. Find ways to incorporate church members in this evaulation process.
Host a “remember when” service that allows people to share their favorite memories from the previous year. Ask church members to submit photographs from past church events. Add the photos to a video presentation to share with the congregation.
Invite members to submit ideas for change or growth. Set up a special project email address or online submission form on your website where they can send their comments. Have a physical drop box with comment cards. Make sure to read and seriously consider every suggestion. Even if they can’t all be implemented, it’s important to think about different perspectives.
The new year is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, but the first months can be a hurdle for many. Acknowledging and addressing the tendency to post-holiday depression can help your congregation move into 2021 with grace and hope.
Tricia K. Brown is a writer, editor, keynote speaker and Bible teacher. In addition to being a wife and mother of four sons, she is the sole proprietor of The Girls Get Together, where she and her team provide women's event programs for churches and other organizations. Her latest book, A Year of Yearning: A 12-Month Devotional to Help You Study God's Word More, is available from Amazon.