Engaging the Community on New Year’s Eve/Day 2024
By Bryan Tener
The new year can be a time for celebration, reflection, and looking forward to a hope-filled future. People long to experience joy, share good times with family and friends, and offer blessings in some form as they journey into the new year. It’s an exciting time to think about all the great things that could come to be in the next year. This could be a time to engage the larger community in meaningful ways, to point to God’s presence and care for all peoples, to foster connection and deepen relationships, and to take action that serves others. It’s a time to offer compassion and work for justice to make this world look more like the beloved community.
Churches and faith communities looking to deepen their connection within their neighborhoods and communities can use the new year as an opportunity to create and build community, intentionally create space to collaborate and build a bigger network, offer hope and compassion, and foster a sense of unity in diversity so that the world around them experiences a different vision for the world and a new year that is more aligned with God’s vision and love. These examples are just the beginning. They can be tailored, adapted, and scaled to fit your context.
1. Host a celebration/Watch Night Service for the new year.
Host an evening celebration that focuses on fostering hope and positivity for the upcoming year through inspirational messages, live music, and community fellowship. It could be a time for reflection, gratitude, and setting intentions for the new year. Invite the community to gather for spiritual enrichment, fun games and activities, and fellowship to create a sense of unity and shared purpose.
2. Host a New Year's Day brunch with community leaders and nonprofits.
Organize a New Year's Day community brunch. This event could bring together members of the local community to share a meal, celebrate the start of the year, and discuss ways to collaborate on community initiatives, challenges, needs, or gifts of the community. By providing a relaxed and inclusive environment, this brunch encourages open dialogue and the formation of new connections, fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility and could be the launchpad for creating new or deepening long-term partnerships leading to long-term transformation for the whole community.
3. Serve those in need.
On New Year's Eve, serve those in need. Take a proactive approach and organize a New Year's Eve service event. Contact organizations that serve those in need (whether it’s the unhoused, infant crisis center, food scarcity and hunger, or another challenge within your community) and invite people to serve others. This action involves volunteers reaching out to those in need in the community and providing them with essential supplies, warm clothing, or whatever the need might be. This hands-on approach not only addresses immediate needs but also builds bridges between the organizations and the community they serve. It showcases the importance of compassion and solidarity, especially during the holiday season.
These examples illustrate diverse approaches to community engagement during the New Year's Eve and Day period, emphasizing the themes of hope, unity, collaboration, and compassion. Inspiration from these examples can help your congregation connect more deeply with the community so that neighbors and people around you might come to know and experience the blessing that comes with a deepening relationship with God and neighbors.