Sharing the good news of Jesus at Christmas
‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year,’ sings Andy Williams, but Christmas is not just a wonderful time for parties and good cheer, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. It’s often a time when non-Christians are more receptive to being invited along to events or accepting literature. Here are some ideas for how you could be reaching out this Christmas, both as a church and individually.
Carol services often hold nostalgia and fond memories for people, and will present a great opportunity for sharing the gospel with the family and friends you invite along. As the service is being planned, it’s helpful to take a step back and consider how to clearly share Jesus with those who aren’t Christians and who may not understand some basic Christian terms. Ensure you have a group of people who are able to look out for new faces and not only give a warm welcome but also a strong goodbye. Giving guests a gift-wrapped evangelistic book as they leave, which includes your church’s details, will help people remember the service long after Christmas.
Children who are already part of your Sunday school, toddler group, or midweek groups will no doubt look forward to a Christmas party. Don’t overlook the opportunity to explain what the true meaning of Christmas is at these events. You can send them home with a party bag containing a Christian book and of course some sweets or chocolate. For older children, having a selection of books to choose from works equally well.
Getting a group together to head into your local town or village to sing carols is also a great opportunity to hand out Christmas tracts and literature, plus invitations to your evangelistic services. We conducted a survey in a secular group to find people’s favourite carols. The top five were: Silent Night, O Holy Night, Once in Royal David’s City, O Come All Ye Faithful and O Little Town of Bethlehem.
If your town or city has a light switch-on, how could you bless people at that event? Could you give out hot drinks or mince pies along with a tract and invitation to your services and church clubs? Or is it an opportunity to build relationships within your town by sending a group to help co-ordinate or marshal the event?
Live nativities, indoor or outdoor, can be a great opportunity to help bring the real meaning of Christmas to life, as volunteers act out key parts of the nativity story. Live animals always have an added draw! As with all Christmas activities, try to stick closely to the biblical account of Jesus’ birth, avoiding any myths or inaccurate details which have crept in to secular retellings.
Many local schools will be running fundraising events in the run up to Christmas and offering stalls for local businesses and organisations. Could your church run a free bookstall or a games stall where everyone is a winner, taking away a Christian book or pencil, along with an invite to your services or weekly clubs? If they don’t allow outside groups to their fairs perhaps you could donate some books for prizes?
Schools are often happy for church leaders to take an assembly in school and an assembly about the real meaning of Christmas will meet the RE curriculum too. You may need to have a DBS check, so make sure to ask ahead so this can be sorted. Check if you can also advertise your Christmas family events through the school’s own channels.
Some churches have found Christmas craft events to be very popular, especially if you have any crafty people in your congregation who could teach wreath-making, Christmas cake/pudding making or Christmas card making. You could use this as a springboard to invite people to the carol service and give away an evangelistic book to everyone attending, or invite a speaker to give a brief evangelistic message.
If your church building is in a town centre location, consider opening up your building on a busy shopping day close to Christmas to offer free gift wrapping. This is a gentle way to get people into the building and make first contact with your church. Refreshments while people wait will encourage people to stop and chat and a good selection of Christian literature to browse and take home provides a great way for guests to find out about Jesus.
Perhaps a small group from your church could get together and handwrite Christmas cards to residents of a local nursing home. The nursing home may be happy to supply a list of first names of their residents so cards can be personalised. For some residents this may be the only Christmas card they receive.
The streets and estates surrounding your church are your mission field and designing an invitation to all your Christmas events to post through their doors, alongside an evangelistic resource such as a tract or magazine, is a great way to not only highlight your church but to scatter the gospel widely.
The humble Christmas card is a perfect means of sharing the gospel, both directly and indirectly. Choose cards which share the true meaning of Christmas with your friends, family and neighbours, but also take the opportunity to include a Christmas tract which explains more.
Christmas is a perfect time to have non-Christian friends and neighbours around, alongside some Christian friends, for food, drinks or games. It’s a very laid-back way to introduce more Christians into their lives, and an additional opportunity to invite them to your church events.
If you have friends or family who have expressed views of agnosticism, atheism, have asked hard questions, or who would simply enjoy reading some mini testimonies, then pray and give them a book as an extra gift or stocking filler, letting them know that you’d be happy to talk to them if they have any questions.
Most people know their immediate neighbours, but how many of us know all the people on our street? Could you handwrite cards for your street and include a personal invitation to your church events? If you don’t know people’s names that’s no problem, just sign the card ‘from John at number 22’. Perhaps you could bake something from the current Life magazine for your neighbours and give that out alongside a Christmas card, plus a copy of the Life Magazine for them to keep.
I hope that this has given you some new (or even old!) ideas, and has really encouraged you as you seek to point others to Jesus this Christmas.