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Thanksgiving as a Disciple-Making Tool

During this time of the year, Thanksgiving is a popular topic in sermons, articles, social media posts, radio talks, and more. People of divergent life stories and spiritual backgrounds will stop to give thanks (though many will not know whom to thank). We who make disciples of Christ seek to be attuned to our cultural situation and to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16). It stands to reason that in our mission we would capitalize on the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving and the cultural moment that it presents.

As you have discussions with people today and beyond, here are two specific ways in which you can make Thanksgiving a bridge to quality disciple-making opportunities:

  1. Ask people what they are thankful for. This is a basic technique that works well in groups as well as in one-on-one dialogue. Thankfulness puts us in a state of humility and receptivity because it requires us to acknowledge something good outside ourselves. Furthermore, thankfulness is associated with worship (Romans 1:21), which makes fertile ground for meaningful conversations because it reveals the objects of our desires and passions.
  2. Thank people for good character and actions they have displayed to you. Our friends at Transformational Leadership speak about the value of affirming people, and they hit the nail on the head in highlighting the value of affirmations for transforming organizational culture and mood. A direct, thoughtful, and even premeditated word of thanks paves the way for deeper relationship. Just be sure to heed their warning: don’t start off by saying, “I would like to…” Make it about them, not about you.

Time for your thoughts. How has Thanksgiving impacted your disciple-making?

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