I’ve assembled 11 great church anniversary ideas, prayers, and themes. The Christian church is not known for its celebrations, and yet the Jewish calendar is replete with festivals and jubilees.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. - Paul to the Thessalonians
The verse above proves that God approves of a celebration, and not only approves but mandates how and when – at least in the Old Testament. While Christmas and Easter are celebrated in church, culturally, the real celebration tends to focus around Santa and the Easter Bunny.
Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection are typically “celebrated” more piously.
Maybe it’s time to find creative ways to celebrate within the church by promoting special dates and achievements while having a good time and praising the Lord together. Thank him for his blessings through a celebration.
Why A Church Anniversary Is Important
Through good times and bad, your church has persevered, and let’s face it, that should be cause for celebration. There are many churches that don’t endure the test of time.
Churches are facing declining attendance and lack of interest in “organized” religion, therefore, any opportunity a church can find to celebrate and encourage the body of Christ is welcomed.
As the author of Hebrews said,
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
Celebrations shouldn’t only be for the anniversary of a church’s founding, but also for the anniversary of a ministers’ beginning: lead pastor, assistant, worship leader, youth minister, choir director; Sunday school teachers.
Celebrate them by acknowledging their years of service and contribution to the church.
There are also anniversaries of spiritual rebirths within the church. Newer Christians, old christians, baptisms; the anniversary of a particularly wonderful service offered to the community. Meals for elderly, day care, foster youth, camps, after school care, library, counseling – recognize their anniversaries as well.
Find opportunities to spur one another toward love and good deeds!
Church Anniversary – What To Say (and Prayer)
Obviously the primary focus of any Christian church is the promotion of the gospel and loving others.
When considering what to say during an anniversary celebration, the praises should go to God for every individual who has participated in the building and the formation of this particular body. Celebrate the way in which these individuals have shared in the promotion of the gospel or served others, either obviously or quietly in the background.
When developing a prayer for an event, we should always take our example from God’s word. In this case I am not referring to the Lord’s Prayer, although that is the example most of us think of.
>> Also Read: Best Pastor Appreciation Ideas
Actually there is a wonderful prayer pattern repeated frequently throughout the Bible and that is when God’s people actually review all the blessings of God in the prayer. They do so by listing back to Him all that they have seen him do. Hebrews 11 is the best example of this.
There is an old hymn called “Count Your Blessings”, that says,
“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
count your many blessings see what God has done”.
A prayer given at an anniversary celebration would be a time to count the blessings of the past year. But to start naming specific individuals at this point might lead to a very long prayer or the unfortunate likelihood of leaving someone out.
It’s best to save naming individuals for a different time of the celebration. For example;
We come before you to thank and praise you for the gift of this church. You have blessed us beyond all that we could have hoped for, expected or deserved. From the very beginning when we had to find a meeting room, You led us to the best place with the best rent. You sent us people who needed us and who needed to hear the Good News of Jesus. You provided the workers and volunteers who gave their time and money generously.
When we were struggling and discouraged You sent other believers to encourage us and lift our spirits. You presented us with opportunities in the neighborhood to serve and to be a light in the community. When we prayed for wisdom you provided us with individuals who shared out of their own experience
We realize this church is not our building but our members. As such we are all members of the larger body of Christ. We thank you for each one of them. And the gifts they bring to the body.
We thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who quietly guides and directs our steps. Keep us atuned and aware of His guidance. Thank you for your Son, the Word who was from the beginning who died and rose for us.
Be with us as we celebrate this glad event in our history and let all praise and glory go to you.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
How To Celebrate A Church Anniversary (11 Great Ideas)
1. A Special Evening Service
Sunday evening services used to be the norm but are not so common now. If your church chooses to have a special evening “service” to celebrate an anniversary, it might be fun to make it a dressy or semi-formal affair with special music and a guest speaker.
>> Also Read: The Best Church Outreach Ideas
The most obvious speaker would be someone who led the church or was involved at the beginning. While it may seem a bit over the top to consider an event like this, remember that people do enjoy dressing up and attending special get togethers.
It’s just that most organizations don’t take the time or make the effort to do so. While it doesn’t need to be elaborate it can be if enough church members are excited and want to pitch in.
On line programs like Evite also make some of the organization much easier.
2. Sunrise Service
A sunrise service can be very meaningful but also short and to the point. When living near the beach we would just all meet there for music and prayer. Is there a high point in your area?
A hill to stand on to watch the sun come up? I recently attended a sunrise service that had a recorded song broadcast with a bluetooth speaker to begin. A poetry and scripture reading that ended with a bagpipe playing Amazing Grace.
Breakfast somewhere with friends and neighbors is the obvious next activity.
3. Mass Outreach Day
Involving the neighborhood or town in the church’s anniversary can be a great way to get to know the folks living around your church.
Churches often invite surrounding neighbors to church service but perhaps including them in just a fun anniversary celebration would be a more relaxed way to get to know them.
>>Also Read: Ways To Invite A Friend To Church
Personal invitations always work best so members should be encouraged to invite at least one friend.
4. Party (or Potluck)
A party? At church? When I was growing up the only parties at church where spelled p-o-t-l-u-c-k. Times have changed and parties at church are fairly common.
Youth groups tend to be the organizers of these and they are normally to attract other youth in hopes they come to the church. So having a party wouldn’t mean a time for drinking a dancing.
However, it would still be possible to have food and an anniversary cake. There is plenty of Christian “nearly rock” music to play and games to be introduced.
Chances are there is musical talent in your church. Announcing an anniversary concert might be just the event to attract lots of friends and family to help celebrate.
Enlisting the musicians to each play one piece of their favorite christian music could lead to quite a variety of tunes. Gospel quartets, classic hymns and new worship songs all qualify.
Sing alongs are great too. If the church is say 30-50 years old the concert could include a history of favorite music through the years. From the churches beginning to the present, share the music trends through the years.
6. Newspaper Advertisement (Thank You)
Many organizations purchase a page or half a page and write their thank you to the community in the local newspaper. Besides informing everyone how long the church has been in town, it could also be an opportunity to share a bit of the history.
Be sure to thank other groups and organizations the church has worked with to spread the gospel and serve the community. Be gracious and generous with the praise and be sure to include Bible verses when appropriate.
7. BBQ or Picnic
Set a date. Reserve the park. Purchase the core meal and ask volunteers to brings a salad or desert. Have a fun afternoon celebrating the anniversary of the church. Ideally you’ll enjoy beautiful weather with games and activities.
8. Photo Display (Throughout the Years)
There is usually plenty of wall space for pictures in church halls. This is a simple way to acknowledge the churches history but requires someone with a talent for framing and hanging.
Setting up a timeline on the wall and allowing folks post their own pictures could work very well also. A church anniversary photo display can also be digital that is shown on a screen prior to and after the church service.
9. Future Generation Sermon (To Many More Anniversaries)
Consider inviting the youth group to take part in a sermon. Although they may be young, they can also take responsibilty for the anniversary service one Sunday.
Allow them to cast a vision for the future of the church and see what happens (also read Qualities Of A Good Pastor).
10. Awards and prizes
Let’s say the church leaders decide they would like to give an Anniversary Award. The award, for example, might be for a person who most exemplifies the vision of the church.
The members of the church cast their votes. The honored person is then written up in the newsletter or the church could even write a press release to a local paper.
Or perhaps and award could be created for a local non profit organization that the church partners with. The church members could nominate the group that does the most for children or the elderly or whatever cause they decide.
Awards are also frequently given for essays. Encourage members to write about their love of the church community.
This could be a time when everyone wins just for sharing.
Publish the writing in the church newsletter and offer a small gift card to those who take the time.
11. Year Book
A year book could capture the events over the years and it could contain notes from the congregation. This works better as a yearly activity so there is a book for each year.
Highlight accomplishments and events of the church such as outreach events, congregation growth, and new leadership positions.
Sermon Ideas For A Church Anniversary (Themes)
- How far we’ve come (as a church and in faith)
- Forward thinking (look to the future)
- Appreciating what we have
- Striving to improve
- Give thanks!
In conclusion let me just say that I know churches don’t exist for parties, prizes and fun. However, when the church has opportunities to build up and encourage one another they should.
Frequently building up the church involves celebrating the accomplishments, the faithfulness and the love that is shared by a community of believers. Christians should be joyful and thankful.
These ideas I’ve shared are gleaned from 60 plus years of church attendance. A few of the churches I’ve attended have been very dour. The best were creative, loving and joyful.
All belong to the body of Christ but only some experience true fellowship when they spur one another on towards love and good deeds!!