Are you thankful for all the ways that God has been good to you this past year?
And do you want to acknowledge the needs of others, even as you enjoy the benefits of God’s good gifts?
Then make your Thanksgiving missional this year.
The word missional simply points to how any everyday activity can become an opportunity to be on mission for God. You can share the love of God in natural ways, ones that already fit your plans and hopes for the holiday.
Here are seven ideas that can serve to reach others this Thanksgiving:
1. Open your table.
Invite a widow, senior adult or someone else who may be lonely to share in your Thanksgiving meal.
2. Fill a college student’s gas tank.
If you know of a college student home for the holidays, offer to fill their tank before going back home. Let them know you’re praying for them often as they are away at school.
3. Take a meal on the road.
Perhaps you know someone with a serious injury or someone experiencing a serious illness. Shopping and preparing a Thanksgiving meal can be costly and tiring.
Let that person or family know that you want to bless them by adopting them for the Thanksgiving meal. Prepare and deliver their meal, or at least take the groceries so that they can prepare the meal, in advance.
4. Enjoy a Thanksgiving football game.
I’ll confess. It was never a big deal to watch the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving before I moved to Texas. But now it’s something I look forward to every year.
Invite someone to watch the game with you. Or organize your own neighborhood football game, intentionally inviting people that you want to know.
If you’re not into football, ask a friend to take a walk with you to burn off the extra calories of a large meal. Use a sports or active activity to connect with a neighbor.
5. Bless a helping agency with a special gift.
Call a local food provider and ask what they need in particular. Find (good) food in your pantry to take as a donation.
You could rummage through all of your spare change and give a special gift to a local charity that serves people living with severe mental illness. All that change could add up.
6. Spend time writing down and sharing what you’re thankful for.
When we stop and take intentional time to remember all the ways that God has been good to us this past year, it puts us in a mindset of prayer as we enter into family gatherings.
Reach out and share with others your thankfulness, especially regarding ways someone has been a blessing to you this past year.
Post the list for everyone to see. As they see what you’re thankful for, you’ll be a witness to them of where your ultimate trust lies.
7. Have a “leftover extravaganza.”
People often have leftovers after Thanksgiving. Why not make it a party?
Invite neighbors over so that you can hear about how they spent their Thanksgiving. Engage people in storytelling about the holidays and about their families.
Having people over gives you insights into who they are and what needs they have.
Remember, Jesus loved a good party. He was always sharing meals with others, often in intimate, kitchen-table kinds of settings.
We’re going to be doing many of these things – eating a meal, watching football, enjoying leftovers, taking stock of your life and giving thanks – why not let God use those everyday moments for God’s glory?
Brent McDougal is senior pastor of Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas. A version of this article first appeared on Cliff Temple’s blog and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @BrentMcDougal.
Brent McDougal is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.