5 Things Church Communicators Should Consider Giving Up for Lent

5 Things Church Communicators Should Consider Giving Up for Lent

February 3, 2016 by

I have a confession to make: I’m terrible at Lent. Terrible.

I didn’t grow up in a faith tradition that was overly concerned with Lent, and so on the rare occasion I actually decided to participate, it had very little to do with “sacrificing something so I could better appreciate Jesus’ suffering.” In fact, Lent was nothing more than a holy-sounding excuse to resuscitate some near-death and seriously cliché New Year’s resolutions. Over the years, I’ve given up (unsuccessfully) chocolate, cussing, soda and oversleeping. All for Jesus. Mmhmm… right.

Last year, though, I found a way to more authentically participate in Lent. For those six weeks between Fat Tuesday and Easter morning, I vowed to spend no money—other than what was necessary for bills, groceries and gasoline. Regardless of my somewhat loose definition of necessary, on Easter morning I declared my first Lenten victory. While I doubt Jesus would’ve struggled much when confronted with Target’s wide selection of adorable tote bags, I do. Same with books, candles, canine apparel, notebooks, hoodies and skinny vanilla lattes. I’m guessing Jesus wouldn’t give a rip about any of those things, which means—of course—I shouldn’t either.

It doesn’t matter what the church down the street has up its sleeve.

See, the beauty of my 2015 Lent challenge wasn’t that I learned to feel Jesus’ pain (because, let’s face it, that’s simply not humanly possible). It was that I began to develop a habit that would allow me to look and live more like Jesus—for the whole year, not just during a particular season. When I spend less money on things, I can spend more of it on doing tangible good in my community. When I have less stuff to take care of, I have more time to care for people. This was a sufficiently compelling challenge that my purchasing behaviors are still different a year later. Not changed, mind you. But I’m getting there.

Enough about me. How about you, church communicators? What type of Lenten challenges can you take on that, when Easter morning comes, you feel energized and inspired to continue, rather than deprived and angry and thrilled to get back to “normal”? Don’t get me wrong: Feeling deprived isn’t a bad thing. I’m just not sure being deprived of M&Ms is a truly meaningful path toward intentional discipleship, that’s all. And as leaders in your churches, growing in discipleship is a good and necessary process. Right? Of course it is.

5 Ideas of What You Can Give up for Lent

Here are five ideas to get you started:

1. Give up Freaking Out

For some of you, seeing that Church Marketing Sucks is already talking about Easter has you hyperventilating. How about for Lent this year, you just stop that nonsense. When you feel your heart rate increasing, take a deep breath and, instead of starting yet another to-do list, close your eyes and sit quietly for a few moments. Go on a search for calming scriptures, write them on post-its notes and put them up all over your office. Set a meeting with your supervisor to decide what tasks you can delegate—or simply let go of—during the weeks leading up to Easter. Decide to rely on God and God’s strength and direction, rather than exhausting yourself by pedaling under your own power.

2. Give up Negativity

Go to the bank and get a roll of quarters. Put a jar on the corner of your desk. Any time you have a negative, cynical or disparaging thought, put a quarter in that jar. Silently repent of your bad attitude. Use all of those quarters to take your least-favorite colleague to lunch the week after Easter. (If you winced, this is totally the one you should do.)

3. Give up Stupid Late Nights

Sleep is a good thing. I know you’re “really busy” and I know you have “a lot to do” but, umm, so did Jesus and even he rested. In fact, I’m just going to declare church communication-related all-nighters to be downright unchristian. You can manage your time better than that. You might have to give up binge-watching Parks and Rec (gasp!), but you’ll have more energy, more patience and more stamina for those extended creative team meetings.

4. Give up Pop-Tarts

I know this is random, but they’re just not especially good for you, that’s all.

5. Give up Comparisons

It doesn’t matter what the church down the street has up its sleeve. It doesn’t matter what your church did last year. What matters is that you’re honoring God through your retelling of God’s story this year. If you’re seeking kudos for your work from people around you, you’re doing it wrong. (I suck at this.) If your church is trying to put together the Coolest Easter Service Ever—for the sake of having that title—reconsider your approach. Jesus doesn’t dig pride, and neither does the community you’re hoping to reach.

OK, Your Turn

How do you think you’ll participate in Lent this year? Your ideas could be helpful to someone else, so don’t be shy! Share in the comments below.

Get help promoting Easter with our new book Super Sunday: Planning Easter for Your ChurchMore:

  • For more on planning, promoting and surviving Easter, check out our book Super Sunday, Planning Easter for Your Church. It includes a chapter on Lent and a chapter written by Kelley Hartnett.
  • Want more insights from Kelley Hartnett? Watch our Easter hangout video.
  • Need more help with Easter? We’ve collected all our Easter ideas into one powerful collection of strategies, examples, inspiration, encouragement and more. Plus we’ve got some ideas to help you manage the stress and stay sane as you approach Easter.
5 things church communicators should give up for Lent: Freaking out, negativity, late nights, comparisons & Pop-Tarts.

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Kelley Hartnett

Kelley Hartnett spent more than a decade working in established churches and helping to launch new ones. She recently launched Tall Tree Collective, which helps nonprofits craft messages that inspire people to get behind their cause. Kelley formerly served as the membership director for our Courageous Storytellers Membership Site and is the author of You've Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators.
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3 Responses to “5 Things Church Communicators Should Consider Giving Up for Lent”

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    February 3, 2016

    Justin McRoberts has a great little book out called Prayer: 40 Days of Practice. He’s doing an email series over Lent and you can sign up here: http://justinmcroberts.fanbridge.com/

    I haven’t done much with Lent in a while, but I’m looking forward to engaging with this series.

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  • Emily Elgin
    February 13, 2016

    Great post Kelley thanks for this. I don’t think of negativity as a struggle but reading #2 Give Up Negativity made me pause to realize that my occasional sarcastic or cynical comment (especially when under stress) contribute negativity to my team dynamic. C’mon, Emily, give that up!
    I am giving up freaking out, negativity and late nights. Love the truth in this, “I’m just going to declare church communication-related all-nighters to be downright unchristian.” Convicting because it’s true.

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  • Will M
    February 23, 2016

    O.k. – so I’m a little late getting into the Lent post, but felt the need to comment because just last week I was working on a newsletter late at night … while eating pop tarts. Convicted on two counts. Mea culpa. Now I’m going to put my tail between my legs, walk away and re-evaluate my life; or at least the next month.

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