A few months ago I wrote about how to be a great leader in 2021. One action step was to provide Easy Wins for your team, church or group.
In this blog post we’ll take a look at a variety of Easy Wins happening around the church this year.
What are Easy Wins?
Easy Wins are those novel, creative ideas that take a small amount of effort to create a large amount of good will. Some easy wins take planning, investment, and courage. Others almost make themselves. As you read about these Easy Wins, think about your own life and work — where do you see opportunities for Easy Wins? Use one or more of these ideas, or come up with your own.
Socially Distant Easy Wins
During this ongoing pandemic, communities of all sorts need to find new ways to connect. How can you remind people they are still a part of your group even when your group isn’t gathering?
You Are Loved signs
One idea grew out of an Invite, Welcome, Connect Zoom call: you are loved yard signs. Our church invested a couple hundred dollars in ten matching yard signs that say, “You Are Loved By The People of St. Luke’s.” We created a schedule beginning with those who lived alone or could use some pastoral care. One volunteer emails households to let them know about the sign. Three other volunteers share the work of picking up the signs and planting them in our members’ yards. Signs stay for two to three weeks and then move on to another home.
These signs have generated an enormous amount of good will. Recipients report feeling a wave of love each time they see the signs. Their neighbors often ask about the signs, which gives our members a natural opening to talk about our church.
Front Porch Packages
Many congregations have done some version of Front Porch Packages. Some just do it for families with young children, others do it for those who live alone or are elderly, and some do it for all members. Our church did pandemic Front Porch Packages for Christmas and Easter. We spread the net wide and delivered to all households who had attended or given in the past few years. Our first time around, volunteer drivers had 20-30 homes on their delivery routes, which we found was quite taxing. For our second round, we asked for and quickly gained many more volunteer drivers which allowed for routes of 8-15 households.
One of the additional Easy Wins for our Front Porch Deliveries is that we asked for volunteer cookie bakers. This was a perfect way to involve a whole different set of people. Our sign-up list filled up so fast, we expanded the list and got twice as many cookies as originally planned.
The bakers were delighted when they dropped off their cookies. The drivers were energized by taking part in this ministry. And those who received the deliveries report feeling very loved and cared for.
Our bags were simple. They contained cookies, information about worship and online activities for the season, ideas for at-home rituals (like the Maundy Thursday information here), and an Advent or Easter calendar.
Creativity in Roles Easy Wins
OK, so it may be stretching it to call anything in this category “Easy.” And yet, all of these pivots are incredibly creative and produce abundant joy, connection and good will. So even though Role Creativity takes more effort, I will stand by my categorization of Easy Wins because the positive feelings from the receivers is exponentially greater than the (significant) effort put into the projects.
Thank You, Video Editors!
How many Music Directors, Clergy, and church volunteers became video editors this year? So, so many! Each and every one of these people deserve immense gratitude, a bonus sabbatical in 2022, and a raise. Those who were able to set down or set aside their written job descriptions and jump into video editing are the winners of this category. They hit pause on their regular jobs and learned a whole new skill set in record time.
Green Mountain Abbey
A few years ago when the Diocese of Vermont called for a new bishop, they were clear that the diocese would be becoming something new during that bishop’s tenure. They didn’t know what this new diocese would look like, but they did know they could not continue to survive with their old model. They asked for a leader who was not afraid of this sort of challenge and found a great fit in the Rt. Rev. Shannon MacVean-Brown. Within days of the pandemic shutdown, Bishop Shannon began offering twice daily online prayer for anyone who wanted to show up. Show up they did! And they kept showing up. Their bishop’s leadership helped them see this regular gathering was more than a temporary time of prayer — they were creating a new community. The Green Mountain Online Abbey was born. A new way of “being church” without connection to an individual building. A way of being community dispersed and together, worshiping God.
All Saints Sunday School
Completely by accident I stumbled across All Saints Sunday School one Sunday and was mesmerized. For several months after, I would seek out the weekly video from Belgium to get a dose of singing, simple yet profound theology, and fun activities. All Saints Waterloo did a great job pivoting to an online Sunday School which draws people in. In proper Easy Win fashion, it plays to the strengths of their curate. They sing because she can sing. They make their prayers colorful because she’s artistic. It is great fun!
Partnering With Artists
Some Easy Wins encourage people in their creativity, especially when that creativity also helps them explore Bible stories and their own spirituality. A congregation in Western North Carolina partnered with artist Ginger Huebner of Create + Connect to offer a weekly Zoom artistic reflection on the lectionary readings during Lent.
The Diocese of Central New York commissioned artist Roger Speer to lead a daily artistic reflection through recorded video and Zoom during Holy Week.
If partnering with an artist seems out of reach, something as simple as sharing a template from Praying In Color can invite creativity at home. Take it up a notch by inviting people to post their prayer drawings on Facebook, share during Zoom Coffee Hours, etc.
Sharing the Good News Easy Wins
A whole passel of liberal pastors have created a niche in Tik Tok which reaches people who do not typically pay attention to a church’s messaging. Pastor like RevLizze (almost a half-million likes) and Pastor Patty (10x as many followers as parishioners) are getting loving messages about progressive Christianity to young people more effectively than any ad campaign. A lot of planning and prep can go into these short blurbs, but these are definite Easy Wins — low cost, great joy, and clergy getting to be their quirky selves.
Communication Strategy Easy Wins
Another type of Easy Win has to do with bits of communication that go viral. These Easy Wins can be gigantic, like Moderator Richard Bott’s prayer for putting on a mask, which was shared directly from his Facebook page 2,000 times with tens or hundreds of thousands of re-shares.
This strategy can work in small ways, too. My Facebook Live prayer on January 6th had five times the number of views of our Sunday worship. That was an Easy Win: I wanted to pray with my people, it cost nothing, and took just a few minutes of my time. Simply by paying attention, we can find Easy Wins to connect not just to our congregation but to their friends and their friends and their friends.
In-Person Easy Wins
As we move out of the pandemic and into regathering, think about how your team or group might create some Easy Wins as you reconnect with the community. If you’ve got a plot of land, consider hosting Movie Nights, Concerts on the Green, or a Chili Cook-off (in my neck of the woods, I think a Deviled Egg Cook-off would be a winner). If you’ve got a plot of land ready for repurposing, consider a community garden. During the pandemic, our church partnered with another congregation to create a Good News Garden. Folks from both congregations tend the garden, getting to know one another and the earth, and the produce is shared with our neighbors.
If you don’t have land, you can still provide In-Person Easy Wins. What about a night at the ballgame, a monthly hike on trails around your town, or having a group order takeout from a local restaurant and eating at a local park?
It has been a long year. Most of us are exhausted. We all are ready for an Easy Win. Think about your self, your family, your neighborhood, your church, your work. What Easy Win might work for you?