Lent is 40 days leading up to Easter each year. The focus throughout the season of Lent is repentance, marked by deeper spiritual engagement and preparation for the joy that Easter brings. Over these six weeks, from Feb 22nd through April 6th, there are plenty of opportunities to gather together, and we’d like to share Four Ways Your Church Can Increase Engagement This Lent to grow as individuals and as the body of Christ.
Make it a whole church event and host a pancake supper on Feb 21st. Many churches that observe Lent celebrate Shrove Tuesday. Traditionally, pancakes are eaten on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) to use up rich foods like eggs and dairy in anticipation of the 40-day fasting season of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is called Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday.
Why: This welcomes people into the season of Lent as you share the history and introduce them to why Lent is central to our Christian faith.
Create a Lent weekly calendar and include various practices to participate in on specific days. Meet people where they are by printing it for the church bulletin and for handouts, emailing it to congregants, and adding it to your mobile app and social media pages to encourage connection.
Why: You’re actively cultivating community versus people feeling isolated in their practices. Increase Lent engagement (SEO keywords) by providing the structure and support of a plan within a calendar and you will make it a lot easier for people to feel included and have a meaningful experience.
Emphasize that the goal of “offering something up for Lent” is to turn our minds to God. Fasting can be much broader than abstaining from meat every Friday in Lent and on Ash Wednesday, or fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and eating only one full meal plus snacks that only add up to another meal.
Think outside the box:
- If you offer up listening to music while driving, try replacing it with prayers or with a spiritual podcast.
- Fast from social media, especially if you find you’re on it too much, and spend that time in prayer or talking to a friend.
Why: Our fasts can also help us overcome subtle addictions or areas where we are heading down the wrong path. Think about where you may be going in the wrong direction and how a Lenten fast can help turn that around.
*Note: By observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, self-denial, and spiritual discipline, we are more attuned to the purpose of the Lenten season, which is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—to consider his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial, and resurrection.
Offer your church as a house of giving to others. The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels. During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on “almsgiving,” which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. Be the drop-off center, host food drives, make lunches for and distribute to the homeless at shelters, etc. The opportunities before us are endless, and there’s always someone to help.
Why: The Church should feel like home for everyone. Opening the doors and offering warmth and help to those in need is our duty, not just at Lent but year-round. Enlisting the help of congregants to serve in this capacity of charitable Lent engagement ideas will connect them to the heart of the church and missions.
By putting these engagement ideas for Lent into practice, you will equip your congregation to stay spiritually diligent during Lent to reach Easter truly prepared for the great Allelujah!
Use These Customizable Resources To…
- Get more people to come to your Easter services than ever before
- Grow your church by turning first-time guests into regular attendees
- Increase giving by mastering donation requests
- Engage children and keep them coming back for more
Carol has worked in the ACST Marketing department and managed most aspects of marketing over the last 20 years. Before ACST, she spent many years handling marketing for companies across the US, including Novell, WordPerfect, Purolator Courier, ArtToday.com, and U.S.News & World Report. Carol is a cradle Catholic who has been active her entire life (a long time!) and has served in volunteer positions within her parish, including formation instructor, lector, code red responder, and numerous other volunteer roles.