REACHING OUT AT CHRISTMAS TIME By Pastor Bill Whitt There may be 41 days left before Christmas, but today is the perfect time to begin thinking about how to use this season for church renewal and reaching out! Now you might say, "But Bill, our congregation is so introverted, and outreach does not come naturally to us." You're in good company.I recently read that in one denomination, 72 percent of its churches qualify as "introverted" or "troubled."
Christmas offers a unique opportunity for even solidly introverted churches to reach out in love to their communities. By incorporating aspects of outreach into seasonal ministries, any and every church can be "on mission" this season!
Here are a few Christmas outreach ideas I've seen work well!
FIVE IDEAS TO INCORPORATE OUTREACH INTO ADVENT
Idea 1: CANDLELIGHT SERVICE INVITATIONS
A recent survey found that "holiday programs and activities" are important to 65 percent of respondents (ACS Technology's MissionInsite tool). Because holiday traditions are important to so many people, many people in your community will respond favorably to a simple invitation to a traditional candlelight service.
Are you equipping your people to make that invitation (physical cards, Facebook event, etc.)? Are you setting, tracking, and celebrating invitation goals?
Idea 2: POINSETTIA GIFTS FOR NEIGHBORS
Christmas is a time when giving and receiving gifts feels natural. Could there be a better time to knock on people's doors to offer a small gift?
You could offer poinsettias to your local neighbors or even ask your congregants to take poinsettias into each of their own neighborhoods. And that invitation card we just talked about -- why not offer it along with the poinsettia?
Idea 3: CHRISTMAS LIGHT DISPLAY
If your church is blessed with good frontage along a busy road or a nice front lawn, Christmas is the perfect season to highlight this space.
By adding a Christmas light display, you can send the message that your church is a welcoming place. Perhaps, adding elements of the Christmas story to the display or even hosting "hot chocolate nights" would make it even more effective!
Idea 4: FAMILY-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT
With time off from school and work, many families are looking for entertainment during the holiday season.
Is your church equipped to host a concert or other event? It could be a nationally known Christian band, a local orchestra, or even a local dance studio's seasonal performance. All these can help bring people onto your property and introduce them to your church.
Idea 5: COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS
Churches have to be careful that Christmas does not become an insider-only affair. It is OK to entertain people and to gather the faithful for seasonal traditions, but the church is called to serve the community too.
This season, what can you do to meet a tangible need in your community? For you, it might look like partnering with a homeless ministry or helping staff a kitchen ministry. Or it could be as simple as collecting canned goods at your candlelight service.
The Center for Church Renewal seeks to serve leaders who are renewing churches. Visit churchrenew.org to see the various ways we are serving churches for the purpose of developing intentional missional congregations that make more and better disciples.
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