“’She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matt. 1:21).
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
The Christmas season brings with it unique and special ways to reach out to the people around us and show the love of Christ. It is a wonderful idea to get the whole family involved in these opportunities. Besides displaying Christ’s love for the people we minister to, this encourages our children toward unselfishness and generosity at a time of year when it would be easy for them to maintain a “what’s in it for me” mindset.
Here are four practical ways to reach out with the gospel during the holidays:
1. Make Christmas cookies and distribute them to your neighbors.
Children typically love using cookie cutters on sugar dough and breaking out frosting and sprinkles. Use this festive activity to bless your neighborhood with baked goods and the Good News. Go door-to-door together delivering plates of goodies and include a solid tract, personalized cards that share Christ, or even your family Christmas letter with the gospel incorporated. Many religious people are open to attending church around the holidays, so if yours holds a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, this is a great time to invite them.
If you haven’t done so already, handing out cookies and the gospel plants your flag as a Christian family, creating a point of reference for your neighbors in all their future interactions with and observations of you. Just being “different” accomplishes nothing if the unbelievers in our lives don’t know why we do what we do.
2. Plan an informal Christmas concert for a nursing home or convalescent center.
You might be surprised at just how much elderly people relish listening to children make music. I participated in nursing home concerts a number of times growing up, and I think we kids got more enjoyment out of it than the people we performed for.
This doesn’t have to be polished or impressive. Just gather a handful of kids who play instruments or sing, and put together a simple lineup to bless people who have little opportunity to get out, and rarely receive attention from the younger generation. Besides incorporating biblically sound carols into the concert, you can write out the meaning of Christmas in the program and/or elect someone to share it verbally during the event. Additionally, having everyone bring Christmas goodies encourages the children to mingle with their elderly audience afterward.
3.Shop for and wrap gifts for less fortunate children.
There are plenty of ministries that facilitate fun, rewarding ways to give to needy families during the holidays. Some provide parameters for packing shoeboxes or purchasing practical gifts for families overseas, others care for local kids whose parents are in prison or on the streets. When in doubt, you can always try contacting your church’s missionaries to learn of specific opportunities to bless the people they are ministering to.
I remember one year when my parents got connected somehow with a group home situation. My brothers and I selected some gently used toys from our stash, and shopped together for clothing items. We wrapped and delivered the presents as a family. I still remember, at least 15 years later, watching a little boy unwrap a fire engine, and his teenaged sister pull a nightgown from a gift bag. It was the first time I can recall seeing a broken, financially needy family up close and personal, and the contrast between their situation and mine really struck me. It felt amazing to get to extend Jesus’ love to that family.
4. If you host your extended family for Christmas, make a point of centering the celebration around Jesus Christ.
As the host family, you likely have at least some say in the events of the day. Will you have unsaved relatives in attendance? Take advantage of the “captive audience,” and set aside a few minutes for the man of the house to share about the incarnation of Jesus. Or, you can get creative and have your kids act out the Christmas story, complete with costumes, and explain what it means afterward. Put Bible verses on everyone’s place cards or write and read aloud a Christmas poem or story before the meal. There are endless ways to make the day about more than family, gifts, and good food. Make sure you aren’t losing Jesus in all the festivities.
Christmastime represents weeks of special family memories and fun traditions. Let your creative juices flow as you consider how to exemplify and teach your children about generosity, selflessness, and faithful evangelism. Use this time of year as yet another occasion to direct their hearts toward loving and serving Jesus Christ. You will never regret setting aside the time, energy, and even money to do this, and chances are, you’ll come away with even more special memories than the year before.