Christmas Outreach Starts Now

 
Carl Laferton | October 17th 2017

It’s October. (You knew that.) Christmas is coming. (You knew that too.) And people are starting to get ready. We’ll have the food. We’ll buy the presents. We’ll see the family. We’ll enjoy the parties. We’ll go to church. We’ll probably think about inviting someone else to church.

And, when it’s all over, will we have used the season as well as we can for the glory of the one who gives his name to the festival?

That’s the question that counts. And to answer it, here are five questions to start asking yourself and your church, starting… in October.

Christmas happens every year, whether we’re prepared or not. Evangelism doesn’t.

October’s Questions:

  1. What will we do?

Maybe there are events that worked well last year, that can be re-run this year, either exactly the same or with a couple of little tweaks.

Maybe there are events that didn’t work well last year. It’s worth not repeating them, just because ‘it’s what we do.’ Christmas is busy. You are busy. Don’t hold events that haven’t proved fruitful in the past.

Why not ring three other church leaders, who are at similar-sized churches in similar-type places, at least one of whom is in a different ‘tribe’ from you, and ask them: What events have you held over the past few years? What worked? What didn’t?

  1. What will we give?

The problem with all Christmas outreach is that it happens at Christmas… and Christmas is a busy time. I suspect that thousands of people will go to a carol service or a Christingle or a Christmas curry-with-talk or whatever this year, be interested by the gospel, be attracted to the gospel, resolve to work out what they need to do about the gospel… and then leave, and get stuck into their cultural Christmas, and then it’s New Year, and then it’s back to work… and the gospel gets lost amidst the wrapping paper and the January bills. So… what will you give at your Christmas events that will help them make good on their intention to think about the gospel, and draw them back in January? Two thoughts:

  1. Give them a Gospel, or give them a short book (or both). That way, whether they’re super-busy, or simply not keen readers, there’s a good chance they’ll read something about the gospel over the Christmas holiday, which means it’ll still be on the agenda come January

  2. Hold something attractive for investigators, either some evening events or an apologetics Sunday morning sermon series, in January. Give folk a reason to come in January, as well as a reason to come in December.

November’s Question:

Who will we invite?

Encourage your church members to be praying, specifically, for those they would love to hear the gospel this Christmas. Encourage your church members to be telling each other who they want to invite, so that come December you can hold each other accountable (amazing, isn’t it, how our long mental list of friends we’ll invite gets whittled down to one or two people when the actual time comes?)

And encourage each other to hold social events in November where those they want to invite in December can meet some of your Christian friends. That way, if and when they walk into your church building in December, they’ll already know some folk – and know (hopefully) that they’re not weird.

December’s Question:

What is the point, and where is the power?

December is crazy. We must remind each other, and hear from our pulpits, that the point of December is to celebrate the incarnation and look forward to the return. The rest is details. And we must remind each other, and have modelled from our pulpits, that the gospel is powerful. We will invite those friends we said we would if we remember that the gospel is powerful to save people. We will take risks with our colleagues if we remember that the gospel can, has, and does change lives.

When it’s all over, will we have used the season as well as we can for the glory of the one who gives his name to the festival?

January’s Question:

How are we continuing the conversation?

A friend came to a carol service. Great. But that’s not job done. We need to invite them along again in January, or ask them what they thought of the book they took home… we need to continue the conversation. Someone left their details with the pastor at a Christingle service. We need to follow that up; visit them; write to them; pray for them.

Christmas happens every year, whether we’re prepared or not. Evangelism doesn’t. Let’s ask ourselves good questions, and prayerfully grasp for good answers, together, at the right times. Let’s make sure that one of the last places where the culture connects with Christianity is used by our churches as a bridge to the gospel this year.

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Rescuing Christmas is a short, witty, engaging and faithful book designed to be handed out at events like this, that shows how the surprising meaning of the first Christmas gives us what we are all seeking—a real joy that really lasts. We've also put together a resource pack to assist you in promoting your event.

Carl Laferton

Carl Laferton is Editorial Director at TGBC. He is author of Original Jesus, Promises Kept and The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross and series editor of the God's Word For You series. Before joining TGBC, he worked as a journalist, a teacher, and pastored a congregation in Hull. Carl is married to Lizzie and they have two children, Benjamin and Abigail. He studied history at Oxford University.

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