I love Christmas – the tunes, the smells, the tastes, even the cold weather that brings with it cosy evenings by the fire. My seasonal joy makes its full appearance by about week two of December, but I’m married to a Christmas enthusiast who stacks up the carol–singing CDs in the car from the start of September!
While I sometimes wish my husband would bring out the tree a little later, I love that we are thinking about Christmas for weeks. As the carols circle around again, I’m reminded, through often profound words, of the amazing gift of Jesus.
My Christmas–fuelled delight in God’s wonderful rescue prompts me to think of those who haven’t accepted Jesus. Whether it be friends, family, or others who populate my days and weeks.
While not everyone will have Christmas on their mind from the moment the first Autumn leaves fall, we do know it is coming. We need to plan how to use the Christmas season to reach out to those who don’t yet know Jesus. Hopefully you’re already thinking about who you could invite to your church Christmas services. But I wonder if you’ve thought about using literature to make even more of the Christmas opportunity? Not just any literature, but evangelistic books, tracts or even a Gospel text that explains why Christmas is all about Jesus.
There are so many different ways of using evangelistic literature, and I’m no expert on how to do it. I still have a knot of fear as I give a book or tract away – that ‘sweaty palms, tempted to hide the book’ kind of feeling. But then I remember how God might just use this one exchange to show my friend Christ. Evangelism is often terrifying, but also encouraging. As ever, it’s God who will be working in us to give us confidence to grab those God–given opportunities over the Christmas season.
Here are a few ideas to get us thinking intentionally about how to hold out the gospel to those within reach.
Hopefully your church puts on a Christmas service or concert at this time of year, and you’re encouraged to bring those who don’t usually attend church. How about making even more of that opportunity by ensuring that each visitor goes away with something that points to Jesus to read in their own time?
I used to go to a church that ran numerous carol services throughout the Christmas season, and at each service the Gospel text for the preached message was placed on each chair. The minister preached from that text – literally holding the same copy – and then everyone was encouraged to take it home with them.
If one on each chair is too much, how about having someone at the exit offering a book for visitors to take away with them?
One of the best ways of getting gospel truth into a household is through children’s books. I know of numerous church toddler groups who use Christmas as a time to give a Jesus–centred picture book. Maybe you are involved in a church youth group – giving a goody bag of edible treats with a book tucked in too might even get the most reluctant reader idly giving it a go.
In many ways, children’s books are the least intimidating ways of handing someone the gospel. While they are intended for the kids, the prayer is that the parents can’t help but hear the truth as they read it to them or glance at what their teenager has brought home.
While everyone has been shivering their way through November in the privacy of their own homes, come December suddenly schedules fill up with parties – gatherings for families, work colleagues, neighbourhoods and anyone else who comes to mind.
Could you plan to host? An opportunity to get to know people, and maybe a chance to get some gospel literature into their hands. My sister’s family host a Christmas street party at their house every year – it’s crazy and hectic with people coming and going, and gaggles of children careering around, but everyone who comes is handed a children’s Christmas story book on their way out.
Everyone loves presents. While it would be odd to remember every colleague’s birthday with a book, it’s normal in most workplaces for there to be some kind of Christmas gift–giving. As a Christian, your desire to share the gospel could shape that present–giving. While we hesitate to leave Christian literature on someone’s desk normally, Christmas came about because of Jesus. We might just be bold enough to give them something that will point them to the truth of Christmas. While working for a church in London, I heard of some city workers’ wonderfully creative gifting of books accompanied by various items – posh chocolate, a mini bottle of wine, or something particular to that person. This could be done for anyone – from a friend at the school gate to the garbage collector.
Christmas brings correspondence. Cards still thud onto the doormat, even in our digital age. While we can pick our cards carefully to convey something of the gospel message, we could also include a tract – a short, winsome leaflet that explains how Jesus is God’s rescuing king. We never know who might read it as they trawl through their post.
Carols in September aren’t for everyone, but don’t wait until December to plan your Christmas outreach. As we are reminded of Christmas’ true meaning, let’s not hesitate to make the most of the season’s opportunities to share Jesus with those we know, and even those we don’t know.
Felicity Carswell – Felicity is a mum of two little boys, and married to book and Christmas enthusiast, Jonathan Carswell. She is passionate about sharing Jesus in 1–2–1 conversations and personal relationships.