Churches can cultivate an atmosphere of appreciation and positivity to promote mental well-being. A great resource for church leaders is ThriveAndCultivate.com
Although we recognize the benefits gratitude can have on our mental health, it’s not always easy to cultivate a culture of thankfulness in large groups, particularly within churches.
The question is, how do we create a culture of gratitude within the church community that promotes positive mental well-being among attendees?
IMPACT OF GRATITUDE
The importance of expressing gratitude for our own mental and physical health has been well-documented, with studies showing that it can create a positive feedback loop that leads to increased feelings of joy and contentment. In turn, this has been shown to reduce signs of depression and anxiety.
Now imagine the potential impact on a church community. Gratitude has the power to deepen connections, enhance support networks, and build healthier relationships—benefiting all those involved. To foster this culture of thankfulness in your own church, here are some practical strategies you can start using right away.
12 Strategies for Churches to Practice Gratitude
1. Show appreciation
Regularly express gratitude towards volunteers by sending personalized, handwritten thank-you notes, or by sharing messages of appreciation on social media channels. Consider specifically highlighting notable volunteers who have been particularly impactful to inspire others in the community to do the same.
2. Speak gratitude
Begin each service with a grateful heart and thank God for His blessings. In addition, at the close of every service, provide a benediction that highlights gratitude, like:
- Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalms 136:1)
- Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
These simple benedictions have the power to subtly shift listeners’ hearts and minds.
3. Tell stories of gratitude
Incorporate storytelling about blessings and gratitude into your church’s messaging to help promote a culture of thankfulness. This approach may resonate well with major players (like the teaching pastor, whose buy-in is required) if they recognize the positive impact it can have on mental health.
4. Create a thread of thanks
Start a thread on social media asking individuals to share what they’re thankful for—bonus points if the person, organization, or event is tagged.
Church Communications Tip: Go first! Start the comments with a sincere thanks of your own, and ask a few others to share, too.
CTT: Encourage others to practice gratitude by sharing stories of how thankfulness has made a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.
5. Publicly display thanks
Create a gratitude-themed bulletin board or physical, public display inviting people to share what they’re thankful for. Picture a giant chalkboard wall in the church lobby or a sticky note display.
6. Model grateful prayers
How many of us get into the habit of simply asking God for what we need? Model prayers of thanksgiving online, face-to-face, and during church gatherings.
7. Report positivity
Cultivate a culture of generosity and gratitude in your church by sharing the results of volunteer efforts and donation collections, as well as the outcomes of service projects.
Is your instinct to shy away from sharing those details for fear of sounding boastful? It can be argued that by not reporting, others are missing out on seeing the good that’s being done by their church family.
Church Communications Tip: Still hesitant? Recruit volunteers from the service or donation teams to do the reporting.
8. Encourage perspective
During times of difficulty, we can find comfort in knowing that we are not alone. While building relationships and acquiring knowledge can help us feel more connected, participating in volunteer work or outreach activities can provide an additional level of support.
9. Teach gratitude practices
Send regular updates and messages via different communication channels that promote gratefulness practices. For example, recommend:
- Taking daily moments of reflection and creating a thankfulness list
- Meditation on Bible verses that speak thanks
- Memorization on verses of gratitude and thanksgiving
- Journaling with gratitude prompts
By intentionally taking time to reflect, one can develop a greater sense of awareness of God’s provisions and grace.
10. Lean into the season
Why not lean into the season? During the Thanksgiving or Christmas season, host a gratitude-themed potluck meal or dinner where the church community comes together to share their experiences and blessings.
11. Run a gratitude campaign
There’s one idea that is near and dear to our hearts at Church Communications: we recommend sharing a curated list of resources to help members cultivate personal gratitude habits in their everyday lives. These resources can be in the form of books, articles, podcasts, clips from RightNow Media or YouTube videos, and more.
Have fun with this campaign, sharing resources on a weekly basis through church social media pages, newsletters, announcements, and podcast promotions.
12. Train leaders
Start at the top and equip leaders to understand more about how mental health can intersect with ministry. One practical resource is the annual Thrive And Cultivate Online Summit on Mental Health for Pastors and Church Leaders. The next one is scheduled for May 18-19, 2023. There is no cost to participate for any pastor or church staff members. High-capacity volunteers are also invited to register for the 2-day online event.
CREATING A GRATITUDE CHURCH CULTURE
These are just a few ways to foster a culture of gratitude in a church. By encouraging gratitude practices and embodying thankfulness as a core value, church staff and members alike can help create a culture of positivity and mental well-being.
Are you ready to equip your leaders with mental health strategies—for themselves and for the congregation? Check out the annual online ThriveAndCultivate.com today.