11 Ways Your Church Can Engage Your Community This Christmas
The temperatures are dropping, the trees are being decorated, and the nativity scenes are being displayed. This can only mean one thing – Christmas is coming! It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but Christmas should be a special season for churches as we celebrate Jesus.
There are many wonderful Christmas events you can participate in as a church, and the Christmas season is also a great time to intentionally reach out to your community. Many non-churchgoers are on the lookout for family Christmas activities or where to attend a Christmas Eve service, and there may be some families in need within your community who could use a little help this Christmas.
This Christmas season, celebrate the birth of Christ not only with your friends and family, but also with your church and members of your community.
Here are 12 ideas of ways to do just that:
1. Host a Christmas program.
Christmas programs come in all shapes and sizes. Bring in some community musicians to host a Christmas concert or have an “all call” and allow community members come together to form a choir one evening.
Some churchess have a “Living Nativity” where actors and live animals portray a nativity scene. Others host a performance of Handel’s “Messiah.”
You could even bring your entire community together by hosting one big free event, like Nashville’s Crosspoint Church’s “A Merry Music City Christmas.” And of course, a candle light service is always a beautiful tradition for church members and non-church members alike.
2. Facilitate a holiday market.
Holiday craft/arts markets are a great way for your community to not only have the opportunity to shop local this holiday season, but also a way to engage people that may not normally visit your church. It supports local artisans and builds church awareness for you – it’s really a win/win.
Ecclesia Church in Houston, TX hosts the Elder Street Market every November to create a space where local artists can share their work and the community can check out Ecclesia.
3. Participate in your local Christmas parade.
A great way for your church to have a presence in your community is by participating in your local Christmas parade. This could be a great activity for your youth ministry to participate in. Borrow a flatbed trailer and have the youth group members dress up, toss out candy, or go all out and make a float. It will be fun for the whole family, and you can have fliers for your Christmas Eve services available for the people at the parade.
4. Create an Advent calendar.
Host a night for families to create Advent calendars for their homes. This is a great way for kids to have fun while learning about the coming of Jesus. They can invite their friends from school as well.
5. Have an “Adopt an Angel” tree.
A popular tradition for many churches is to create an “Adopt an Angel” tree and provide Christmas gifts for kids that may not otherwise get any. Hope Church in Las Vegas, Nevada has a different spin on their Angel Tree by specifically reaching out to children and families of inmates. They even use this ministry to develop year-round relationships with these families. This is a great way for your church to impact your community and come alongside those in need.
6. Partner with a local soup kitchen.
Alongside the members of your church, provide a hot meal for the displaced people in your community. If you don’t have space inside your church to serve food to a large group of people, then either partner with a local soup kitchen or donate food to a charity that serves the homeless in your city.
7. Go caroling!
Gather your worship vocalists and any volunteers who love to sing and go caroling in the neighborhoods near your church. You could pass out postcards for your church’s Christmas Eve service. Or, go one step further and bring joy to those who aren’t able to get out by caroling at a local nursing home or a hospital.
8. Host a coat drive.
The Christmas season gets very cold, and not all people are fortunate enough to be able to buy the things they need to stay warm. Do a warm clothes drive and ask your congregation to bring coats, thick shirts and pants, socks, gloves, hats, blankets, etc. for all ages, then donate them to a local homeless shelte, charity, or families in your church you know are in need.
9. Help with gift-wrapping.
Everyone likes to open gifts, but not everyone enjoys wrapping them! Create gift-wrapping stations where the people who live and work nearby can drop off their presents and have them wrapped by members of the church. This is a great way to bring in new people who haven't stepped foot in your church and reduce some of the holiday busy-ness for those in your church community.
10. Plan a parents’ night out event.
Christmas shopping is hard, and it is even harder to shop for your kids when childcare is not easily accessible. Have some volunteers offer a parents’ night out so they can get their Christmas shopping done. This can be fun for the kids, too. They can watch a Christmas movie, have a Gingerbread-decorating contest, and play Christmas-themed games. This is also a great opportunity for kids to hear the story of Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas.
11. Help the local schools.
Schools do so much for our next generation. Offer to serve the schools that need a little extra help. You and some church members can paint the lunchroom for the end of the semester or help provide books to encourage learning – whatever end-of-the-semester projects they need completed. This not only helps the students, but it also helps the teachers and the parents. It serves your community while bringing more awareness of your church.
These are all creative and fun ways to love your neighbor and shine the light of Jesus and His coming to Earth. Celebrating the Christmas season with your church members, as well as your surrounding community, is the perfect way to end 2015 and jump into the New Year!
What are some of your church’s favorite ways to celebrate Christmas and reach out to your community?
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