The post-blessing plan should be well-considered so all priesthood can be involved to ensure the greatest experience for all congregation members. The congregational blessing is an inspiring, instructional, and deeply valued “moment” in the life of any congregation. We all desire, though, that the experience will be more—far more— than a warmly remembered event. While it clearly is important that careful planning and preparation precede the special experience of blessing, it is equally vital that careful planning be done for afterward.
No two pathways for what happens afterward will be identical. It is important that planning be done with the end in mind. God always calls his people to be the blessing they have wanted to receive. Now that the congregational blessing has been given, they must share and embody what they have received.
The following suggestions, drawn from various places, show the variety of choices available. The goal is to find ways to integrate the content, direction, and spirit of the blessing into the life of the congregation and its individuals. It becomes a “living blessing” to the extent the people receive, respond, and reflect its messages to one another and to others not yet in membership.
It should be understood that the congregational blessing speaks to a moment in time, not to all time. In fact, it may be important to encourage the possibility of periodic congregational blessings. Pondering its meaning should be done with the purpose of finding fresh expressions of its message individually and as the local Body of Christ that brings new energy, deeper devotion, and passion for Christ and the cause of Zion. It should continue to speak to all as its message is studied and used for guidance and instruction.
A word of caution: The congregational blessing is not in-tended to be elevated to the status of scripture or prophetic guidance for the World Church or other congregations. By its nature, it is particular to a specific people, time, and place, though based on eternal principles and understandings. In fact, its growing value is always found in its relevance to the local Body of Christ and the many ways it blesses their lives together while calling them to higher levels of devotion and witness.
We invite you to share the ways your congregational blessing has been a blessing to your people and the com-munity based on what occurred afterward. We hope the following ideas spark other ideas that you could share with us.
Ideas for Distribution of Congregational Blessings
- Give everyone a copy of the tape or CD, DVD, or video.
- Prepare a booklet containing the total service and blessing for each member.
- Post the blessing around the church building and in classrooms, where all can take ownership.
- Place the blessing in the conventional blessing envelope for each person.
- Give each member a copy of the blessing at a special service.
- Have priesthood take the blessing to every home and review it as a blessing to the family.
- Create a DVD as a worship resource with selected messages from the blessing, accompanied by inspiring photos, perhaps including pictures of local members, with appropriate musical background.
- Post the blessing on a congregational Web site.
- Ask children and youth to prepare materials, banners, etc., showing key messages that spoke to them.
- Give a copy to new people who come into the congregation.
Continuing the Experience
The congregation may take numerous steps to experience continued enrichment of the blessing.
- Create adult and children’s classes using the congregational-blessing document as the study focus.
- Convene the priesthood in special study sessions and prayer to examine how the blessing speaks to its general calling and specific office ministry. Identify actions members may covenant to take individually, as well as collective commitments for ministry for the next 12 months.
- Hold a congregational retreat within 60 to 90 days of the blessing, creating theme and content sessions that arise from the blessing.
- Revisit the specific purposes identified for the congregational blessing and discuss implications that arise after the blessing is given. Identify specific follow-up steps that seem appropriate to better accomplish the purpose(s) for which the blessing was given.
- Actively encourage the people to seek other types of personal and family blessings, bringing fresh vitality to their spiritual lives as individuals and families while the congregation experiences a “newness” of life.
- Create music, hymns, poems, artwork, or other expressions that reflect the congregational-blessing message. Deliberately involve all ages.
- Hold six- and twelve-month reflections or evaluations of what the blessing has done or should yet be doing in the congregation. Revisit its message and identify what needs to happen to keep it relevant and inspiring. Use it as a guide for intentional congregational planning.
- Use the blessing to frame messages of invitation and involvement that are relevant to the community, friends, and others not presently part of the fellowship. Look at how it can shape your intentional outreach in service and invitation to others.
- Develop family worship materials that build on the themes from the blessing, just as such worship guides likely were prepared in preparation for the experience. Use key messages from the blessing, selecting relevant scriptures, hymns, and other resources that connect to the key message.
- Have a service of praise and thanksgiving for the blessing. Include individual expressions of commitments to be a blessing by several congregation members.
- Ask people to share how the blessing has spoken to, affected, or changed them. This could be done as part of Sunday-morning worship services, as part of prayer services, or in other settings.
- Continue to more fully use the available evangelists (particularly those involved in the blessing) in public and personal ministry. Ask them to more fully expand the blessing message and build on its relevance to the membership.
- Use key blessing messages for worship themes, preaching topics, prayer-service focus, and personal and family study.
- Challenge the congregation regularly on how members, as the Body of Christ, can be a blessing to each other and those in the neighborhood. Ask members for specific suggestions that could be compiled and used for discussion.