Christmas Best Practices

12_bp_wreaths_jnBy Michael C. Mack

Pre-invite: Christmas Movie Celebration
Host a Christmas film fest, featuring family-friendly Christmas movies, at the church building or another community gathering place. Serve seasonal foods and refreshments, and encourage church attendees to invite their friends. This may be a great way to “pre-invite” people and help them get to know others before your Christmas services.

Invite Friends to Christmas Services. According to a recent LifeWay Research study, 61 percent of Americans attend church services at Christmastime. Which means, of course, that 4 out of 10 people do not attend. Yet, among those who don’t attend church at Christmas, 57 percent said that if someone they knew invited them to church at Christmastime, they would go.

Preach the Gospels (All of Them)
Christmas sermons tend to rely on the narratives from Matthew and Luke, but there are many other alternatives, of course. Peter Mead (www.biblicalpreaching.net), a missionary and writer, suggests preaching all four Gospel introductions, for instance. Introduce people to Matthew’s introduction and then Mark’s. Tell why Mark didn’t use the birth narrative, but jumped directly to the days leading up to the start of Jesus’ ministry. Then summarize the visitations, prophecies, and narrative of Luke 1 and 2. Wrap it up by preaching on John 1:1-18, which portrays beautifully the why behind it all.

Follow Up
The best way to follow up is with a personal, short, and simple thank-you phone call from a pastor shortly after Christmas. Let visitors know you care. Another option is a gender-specific or stage-of-life phone call from, for instance, a women’s pastor or volunteer to a single mom, or a children’s minister for a family with kids.

Christmas Inside-Out for Your Group, Class, or Team
INSIDE: Build deeper community by planning to spend an entire day together as a group. A Sunday may be best. (If you can’t do this in December, move it to January.) Go to church services together in the morning and then go out to eat. Go Christmas shopping together at the mall. Plan a party for the evening; ask folks to bring food to munch on throughout the evening, and watch family-friendly Christmas movies together or play games. Or go to a Christmas pageant together. Invite spouses, family, and friends of members.

OUTSIDE: Many options exist for how a group can serve others; here’s one idea: Ask your church or a community organization for the contact information for a local family in need. Find out what the family needs and then shop together for gifts. Schedule a time to greet the family and drop off the gifts. If possible, keep in touch after the holiday season and continue to serve. (Imagine the impact if every group, class, and team in your church did this!)

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