Christmas Ministries Ideas
Christmas is a time when people are thinking more about spiritual things. Imagine having hymns broadcasted through store loud speakers any other time of year, yet at Christmas you can hear the Gospel proclaimed through the Christmas carols all over town. Let's take advantage of the opportunity to share the Gospel ourselves and make friends with the people of our communities! Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Most churches Host a Christmas Program and they vary as much as churches themselves:
A simple candlelight service, right at sundown on Christmas Eve, is a very special way to begin Christmas--almost like beginning Sabbath! Community people, who want some kind of church experience at Christmas, will enjoy this tradition.
As long as you have a wonderful program put together, do it twice--once at a retirement center or at the local mission and then at your church.
Host an annual (make it fabulous) Christmas cantata. Some churches have made wonderful friends with professionals and others who would not otherwise come to church but who love to come and sing in an upscale, quality production.
Make nice, big FABRIC STOCKINGS out of Christmas fabric for each man, woman or child staying in a local shelter. If the organization knows ahead of time that you are doing this, they can sometimes find other groups to fill the stockings or, obviously, you could organize getting that done, too.
DECORATE for one of the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners being put on by one of your community agencies. (They rarely need help with serving--lots of people want to do that.)
Here's a delightful German tradition: TAKE A BIG OLD WAGON, pulled by horses, through the town or the neighborhood surrounding the church. Have nice loud Christmas music playing, with costumed live carolers singing along, and pass out goodies to the children--including invitations to a Pathfinder Open House, etc. Invite the children and their parents to climb on the wagon for a ride and end up at the church for Christmas cookies (of course!) and hot cider and maybe even a special reading of the Christmas story. (It might be useful to send out flyers or have some media coverage ahead of time so parents will be expecing you. Also, in this day and age of safety concerns, consider passing out pre-packaged goodies rather than home-made ones. And check with your local police department before taking horses on the streets.)
Offer a class in making inexpensive, but wonderful, CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS. Single moms, especially, will appreciate this, but everyone will love the socializing.
Join in COMMUNITY Christmas programs:
ANGEL TREE provides the first names and wishes of children who have a parent in prison. These names and requests and usually on paper ornaments tied onto a Christmas tree in your church lobby where poeple who are interested can take an ornament and then bring back the appropriate gift. Visit www.angeltree.org.
Franklin Graham's CHRISTMAS SHOEBOX program is a fun way to involve children. Check on the internet for their guidelines for filling a shoebox full of goodies for a child in a developing country. (Note that deadlines are usually early in November) Visit www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/occ.
Make up CHRISTMAS BASKETS (or Thanksgiving baskets) for those who are struggling. This is a favorite holiday project for many churches. One way to do it is to have everyone in the church bring big bags of food to church on Sabbath morning and pile the food all over the church platform. Have potluck that day. Afterwards, all the church members can work together to sort the donated food into the prepared baskets. Once the baskets are filled (make sure they look pretty!), each family can deliver a basket or two--or the people can come pick them up. What a great way to have all the food in and out in one day AND to involve the entire church family.
TAKE A TOUR OF THE LIGHTS! Christmas lights are an essential part of the season! Older and disabled people, however, who cannot get out on their own, may go year after year without seeing them. Why not gather up a group of them and take them on a tour of the best lights in town? If your church does not have a van, see if a car rental company will let you use one for free OR partner with the local transit system or a Meals On Wheels--type organization. Wind up at the church, of course, for cookies, cider, and a carol or two.
WRAP IT UP! Set up a free Christmas gift-wrapping station in a department store. Schedule this with management ahead of time. Ask stores to donate the wrapping paper. Accept donations, either to cover your cost or to benefit some other local charity.
Join the CHRISTMAS PARADE! A parade doesn't have to be blitzy--it can be beautiful and spiritual. It's amazing how often a Christmas parade has nothing religious in it. Help your community keep Christ in Christmas! have a live nativity scene on the float, or, if you're really creative, depict Jesus' birth AND death AND His second coming. People always enjoy live carolers in period costumes walking along beside the float/s. Recorded music helps keep the sound of the music full. Have plenty of colorful, attractive literature to hand out along with invitations to upcoming events. Again, wind up at the church for refreshments.
DELIVER TREES! A few days before Christmas, come lot owners are willing to give the trees away. Round up a few pickup trucks and tree stands, and deliver free trees to financially stretched, single parent families. (Plan to pick the trees up again and dispose of them later.)
The key to success: LOTS OF PRAYER!
For more ideas, contact Cheri Corder, Director of Family Ministries
Oregon Conference office -- 503-850-3558