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These New Year’s events are perfect for small churches! Activities are done family-style or in separate age groups.
Provide a fun and safe place for your families to celebrate the new year.
New Year’s events at your church can:
- Offer a safe place for families and teens to celebrate
- Bring members closer to God
- Strengthen families
- Build unity in your church
- Help members invite friends to have some fun while meeting their church family
Whether you want to bring families closer to God or closer to each other, these events can get you going in the direction you want.
1. New Year’s Game & Movie Night
This event is perfect for small churches to build on the camaraderie they already enjoy. Small churches are in a unique position in that they do almost everything together. Attending a fun, casual game and movie night helps your members get to know each other better and strengthen friendships. This leads to developing unity, an asset and a necessity for effective ministry.
Fill your evening (or day) with fun, food, fellowship, games, and movies. Genuine connection and fellowship make this event perfect for small churches. This event works whether your church has a 6 pm – 10 pm event or an event that starts at 8 pm and runs into the new year.
Ask everyone in your small church to bring a snack, appetizer, or crockpot dish to share.
Accommodate your children’s needs by varying your kid’s movies with short and full-length showings. Providing snacks often helps children satisfy their need for movement without distracting others from the movie.
If you plan to have children and parents in separate rooms, have plenty of adult supervisors. Don’t put the weight of your children’s safety solely on your teenager’s shoulders.
Group games and card games build greater community when played in groups of 4 or more. One of the beautiful things about this event is that it allows building on and strengthening the community feeling already in your small church. If you use board games, choose ones designed for more than two players. Consider Yahtzee or cornhole tournaments for extra fun throughout the night.
Include Extra Activities For Children & Teens
For your New Year’s event, crafts are used as an activity to foster connection and fellowship, and less for the finished product. Include crafts for children, teens, and adults. Small churches often have odds and ends of extra paper, scissors, glue, and crafting projects. Smaller individual projects are better options than larger painting projects.
Teens develop more connections with each other when you offer a designated area or corner of the room for the “Teen Hang Out Area.” Don’t stress if a teenager doesn’t appear to be engaged. For those teens struggling with social anxiety, they are doing their best to show up to an event, and playing a game on their phone or scrolling through their social media is the best they can do to be engaged. Check in on them occasionally, but give them the space they need.
Games For Small Church New Year’s Parties
Add these games and activities to your small church New Year’s event. These are doable for small churches because, for the most part, they are easy, low-cost, low-prep, and played in all age groups.
If you divide up into age groups, rotate games to save on the cost of supplies.
Bible Verse Match Up
Ahead of time, print out a list of Bible verses, then cut them apart so each verse is on a separate piece of paper.
Once all your guests have arrived, pull out half as many Bible verses as you have game players. Cut each Bible verse into two pieces and toss all the pieces into a basket. Players draw a Bible verse and then try to find who has their other half.
Cotton Ball Relay
Divide into teams of 2 or more. Each team gets one cotton ball, and members get their own plastic spoons. Teams line up in a single line. Give the first person in each line a cotton ball. Players race to the end of the room and back, then pass the cotton ball to the next player without touching the cotton ball with their hands. And repeat!
The first team to finish the race is the winner. If a cotton ball falls off the spoon, a player must stand still to retrieve it and can only continue moving once it is back onto the spoon.
Bubble Gum Hourglass
Ahead of time:
- Gather an even number of washed and dried 2-liter soda bottles.
- Fill half of the bottles with gumballs. (Be sure when you purchase the gumballs they fit through the mouth of the bottles.)
- Use duct tape to secure an empty bottle to each bottle with gumballs.
Players compete to be the first to shake all their gumballs into the empty bottle. For a larger group, divide players into Round 1, Round 2, etc.
Ahead of time, purchase marshmallows and toothpicks. Buy approximately one box of toothpicks and one bag of marshmallows for every team of 2 to 4 people. For adult and teen groups, also purchase one bag of mini marshmallows for every two teams.
Divide into teams and give each team their toothpicks and marshmallows. Teams compete to build the tallest self-standing tower in an allotted time. (Start with 5 minutes and add more time as needed.)
Ahead of time: Purchase or ask everyone to bring an item for this challenge. Items can include meats, cheeses, fresh or dried fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, relishes, and crackers.
Use charcuterie boards, cutting boards covered with parchment or butcher paper, or table sections with butcher or parchment paper for the competition area. Put all items, plenty of plastic knives, and boxes of toothpicks on a supply table. Tip: For kids, cover the entire table with butcher or parchment paper.
All teams create their charcuterie to the same theme.
Charcuterie theme options: artistic design, a person’s face, landscape, holiday wreath.
Teams compete to complete their charcuterie in the allotted time.
Encourage all team members to participate in some way. If you have a large group participating in this activity, limit the number of items they can retrieve on each run to the supply table.
2. Prayer, Praise, & Worship Night
Celebrate The New Year With A Prayer, Praise & Worship Service
Small churches worldwide celebrate the start of a new year with a celebration of praise, worship, and prayer. This event is designed to celebrate the wonderful things God did in the past year and pray for amazing and mighty things for the year to come.
Include these 7 elements in your Prayer, Praise, & Worship event.
- Personal reflection
- Conversation starters
Many love these events. There is something about worshipping together corporately that can’t be reproduced in larger groups. There is something unique and special about prayer events for small churches. You aren’t in a large sanctuary, sitting with hundreds of people you don’t know, praying by yourself, feeling as if you are just one person in the midst of a crowd –– like at a concert.
In small church prayer times, members have the benefit of praying together with those they have relationships. Some may be family, and others are good friends. Their lives are intertwined. A small church “does life” together.
For example, as one member leads the congregation in prayer for those in your community needing a job, someone may put his hand on the back of Joe’s shoulder. He knows Joe was just laid off from his job and wants to let Joe know he cares and is including him in the prayer. The beauty of small church prayer events is the connection that can happen with those around us.
Choose from the following ideas to fill your event schedule. For example, some churches opt for 6 pm – 9 pm, while others start later, around 8 pm or 9 pm, and go into the night.
Small Church Worship Night Food Plan
Ask everyone to bring a dish or two to share: snack, appetizer, main dish, side dish, dessert, or beverage. Plenty of food keeps the energy, sugar levels balanced, and excitement throughout the event. If you plan for certain courses to be available or eaten at specific times, group the foods accordingly and cover future meal courses with a fabric tablecloth until it’s time for those foods.
Remember, most people put thought into the dishes they prepare. They are bringing one of the best dishes in their recipe box. Take time to appreciate the items people bring to the table.
Try Different Avenues For Praise & Worship
Praise and worship aren’t limited to music. Many small churches all over the world don’t have praise bands or worship teams, yet they have vibrant, deep, and meaningful praise and worship experiences in their services and at their events. Your church isn’t “less than” if you don’t have musicians.
Praise and worship can be meaningful whether you have no live worship team at your church, one singer with a guitar, or a full band.
Try One Or More Ideas At Your Next Praise & Worship Night:
- Ask your music team to lead the congregation.
- Invite a local Christian musician or singing group to sing at your event.
- Invite a local church to join your event and pool your resources for a joint music team.
- Read the story of a hymn before singing the hymn.
- Social Media Worship Activity: Take two minutes and ask everyone to post uplifting, Bible-based encouragement on their social media.
- Take 3 – 7 minutes and ask congregants to speak out one-line praises to God. “God, I praise you for ___.”
- Play praise music through Spotify on your cell phone in a small group.
- Provide index cards and pens. Ask congregants to take a few minutes to pray and ask the Lord for one act they can do this coming week to worship Him. They keep their cards as reminders.
- Ask congregation members to start a chorus, and then everyone else joins in.
- Turn a psalm into a heartfelt prayer in your own words. Ask congregation members to choose a psalm, write it out in their own words, and then read it aloud.
- For those who might be artistic, invite them to draw with colored pencils, markers, or watercolor pencils what is on their hearts during times of prayer or music.
- Watch a worship DVD or online video.
- Create a responsive reading. Give everyone a copy of the prayer. The leader reads part, and the congregation responds.
- Have communion.
Plan quiet and more solemn times of worship earlier in the evening and your livelier worship moments later in the night.
Use Photos To Share Small Church Memories
Ahead of time, ask church members to email photos of this year’s church events to the office and put together a photo slide show of all the fun your small church had during the year. Connection is built on moments like this –– sharing memories, enjoying laughter, and looking forward to repeating future events.
Include Time For Personal Reflection
Offer a time for personal reflection for your teens and adults early or mid-event. Personal reflection is strategic and valuable. It helps someone personally identify things in their life they feel good about and satisfied with and also new things they want to start or changes they’d like to make.
Sign up below for your free PDF: Personal Reflections Sheet for the New Year.
There Is Power In Sharing Testimonies Of How God Worked In Your Life
Setting aside time for people to give personal testimonies can have several benefits.
Encouraging members to share testimonies can:
- Show others what the Lord did for you
- Allow the opportunity to give God glory and praise
- Remind us of the things God has done for us
- Promote community as we share with each other
- Give cause to celebrate with each other
- Empower us to share our story with others
- Encourage other members of your church
Weave Short Prayer Times Throughout Your Night
Set aside specific times for congregant-led corporate prayer times. In each segment of time, cover three prayer points. Weave these prayer segments throughout your night.
Ahead of time, ask specific members if they’d be willing to lead the church in prayer for one particular given topic.
Prayer night topics could include:
- Your nation
- Your state or province
- Individual ministry groups in your church
- The local schools
- Those in your community
- Local churches
- Marriages in your community
- First responders
- Your country’s military
- Those who have addictions
- Human trafficking
- Local businesses
- Those in your community needing jobs
- Missionaries your church supports
Table Talk Cards Offer Great Conversation Starters
Before your event: Write out random questions on index cards or heavy paper. Avoid questions that would be considered personal.
Use general questions such as:
- What is your favorite snack?
- What is your favorite sport to play or watch?
- If you could play one (or another) musical instrument, what would it be?
- Where is your favorite vacation spot?
- Name a hobby you enjoy.
- In what state or country were you born?
Ask one person at each table to read the cards on their table. Allow time for each person to answer.
Include a time of communion in your plan for the night. Offer communion at the tables when you gather together to eat. Before getting any food, ask everyone to sit at tables. Have a time of communion, symbolic of Jesus breaking bread with His disciples.
Finish the night with a time of joyous praise to the Lord.
3. Soup Day On New Year’s Day
Plan your all-church event for New Year’s Day. Meet together for Soup Day and simple sides such as salad, bread, or rolls. This potluck targets one main meal: soups. Pass around a signup sheet to help avoid repeats and comparisons.
With this low-cost and low-prep event, congregation members provide the food while the church supplies the bowls, cups, tableware, butter for bread, salt, and pepper. Jesus often fellowshipped while eating. This event is an extension of ministry. Even though the nature of this event revolves around the tasty soups being served, the benefit is relationship building. Follow these tips for a better way to include everyone in your small church Soup Day.
Invite Neighbors To Soup Day
If you have new guests or visitors on Soup Day, do an Icebreaker Game to help them get to know some of your members, build connections, and find commonalities. Soup Day can be a very visitor-friendly event for your small church. Remember, church ministry isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different people feel more comfortable attending different types of events. Read about the Ministry Funnel to discover why Soup Day is the perfect event to invite neighbors, co-workers, and unchurched friends. The purpose of this event isn’t to do a Bible study, identify spiritual gifts, or develop spiritual growth. This purpose is to offer a fun event with good food for people to hang out with. It’s an event for people to join in, if for no other reason than because they know you care about them.
Offer Easy, Low-Cost Crafts & Games For Kids & Teens
Children are active and need opportunities to move. Offer a craft table of random extra materials from your Sunday school supplies for children and teens. They use their imagination and create their own pieces of art based on their imagination and creativity.
Garden and seed catalogs are wonderful tools to use for collages.
Set up an area for kids and teens to have space for playing board games. It’s easy for anyone to sneak away from a large group when at a casual event. Offering loosely organized activities helps with supervision while providing entertaining and meaningful activities for your children and teenagers.
Make The Most Of Your Small Church New Year’s Event!
Soup Day can offer a meaningful fellowship and community for your small church. Since Crock-Pot meals are easy to put together and made ahead of time, your members can arrive unrushed and ready to enjoy this low-key event with your small church. So take advantage of this easy-to-plan event and put it on your calendar today.
Celebrate With Others In Your Small Church By Hosting One Of These New Year’s Events
When we plan fellowship events at our church, our goal shouldn’t be to fill the calendar because we need an event for New Year’s weekend. Embrace the beauty of small church fellowship events. We are developing relationships with those who will “do life” with us. Together we will grow in Christ, endure challenging times, and form memories that will last a lifetime.