Memorial Day is less than a week away. This national holiday marks the end of school and the start of summer.
Many church leaders wrestle with how to acknowledge Memorial Day in their services. Some, possibly in more traditional settings, may feel the need to recognize military services members and their families. Others may sing a patriotic song or attempt to break a world record for the most American flags in a church parking lot.
And others have a bagpipe group in their services to play a patriotic medley (this is a real life example, folks).
As a church leader, what should you say from the stage during your services this weekend? What is most appropriate for your church in your context and your community?
This post won’t answer your questions. Instead, let me give you a few things to consider as you prepare for this weekend:
Remember the actual purpose of Memorial Day.
Most churches acknowledge all military personnel and their families on this weekend. That’s a great gesture, but military folks know this holiday focuses on remembering those who died. Wait on acknowledging all military members on Veteran’s Day.
Talk to a veteran in your church.
I know, I know. I just said this holiday isn’t about veterans. But you should still ask a veteran what would be considered appropriate or respectful for your church. You likely have one on your staff or lay leadership team, so give them a call.
Think about your church and community context.
Some congregations may have a significant number of families who lost a relative in military service. Then it may be appropriate to have a time of prayer for those families during the service. But that may not be true in other churches, so a Memorial Day video at the beginning of the service may be sufficient.
Don’t make political statements.
Regardless of your political party, the church platform is not the venue to voice support for one party and demonize the other. The people in your services likely represent both parties, and in case you haven’t noticed, we are in a particularly tense political season in our country.
Make it about Jesus.
This thought should be a given for planning weekend services, but it’s easy to forget. Particularly in southern churches around a patriotic holiday. Whatever you do, whatever your context, don’t minimize Jesus to maximize America.
Maybe you need a moment of prayer. Maybe you need a video. Or maybe it’s best to say thanks and move on.