The Christmas season presents an opportunity.

An opportunity to give a little extra – do a little something – to reach out to those around us with the love of Jesus. Small, ordinary gestures inspired by God’s love; gestures God takes and transforms for His glory.

But, what are the opportunities this Christmas – the Christmas of 2020 – which is likely to be like no other?!

Here are six ideas to get us rolling! Ideas you, or your church, can enact throughout lockdown or in whichever COVID-tier you find yourself in.

We’d also love to hear from you. How are you, or your church, planning to reach out locally this Christmas? 

1. Invite someone you know to an online service

For someone who doesn’t know Jesus, the thought of stepping into a church building may feel like a massive deal.

But this year… perhaps this year could present an opportunity?  An opportunity for your neighbours, friends and family who don’t know Jesus to virtually step inside church from the comfort and security of their own homes.

Of course, the virtual life just doesn’t measure up to the in-person community that we were created for. But for now, it’s what we’ve got. So, What if we could use what we’ve got to love people and make Jesus known?

You have the chance to invite people to services that will tell the story of ordinary people experiencing the joy, peace and hope that come from an encounter with someone extraordinary.

At the end of a year like 2020, many people are crying out to feel joy, desperate for peace and looking for somewhere secure to set their hope.

Is your church planning a Christmas service or carol service that will be streamed online?

Invite a neighbour, friend or family member who doesn’t yet know Jesus to join a service with you.

Why not plan a video call to catch up beforehand over a Christmas drink? Create a sense of togetherness by chatting to them about how they found it afterwards.

You might think, “they’d never set foot in a church.” But, might they just set foot in a virtual church? It could be the first small step in an extraordinary journey.

2. Connect with your neighbours – sing some carols!

Who did you exchange conversations with over the fence or across the road during lockdown #1 when taking out the rubbish? Who joined with you in the cacophony of clapping for carers on Thursday nights?

Over the course of this pandemic, one of the unexpected positives we’ve seen has been the re-emergence of neighbourhoods and communities where people actually talk to each other.

As daily life slowed down in 2020, we were given space to take our eyes off our own busy lives and began to see those around us.

Let’s not lose this.

Why not organise carol singing on your street? Neighbours singing from their own doorsteps. There’s nothing quite like singing together under the stars to lift morale! Carols are widely loved, and don’t need a strong singer to lead – thank goodness.

Carols are an ordinary part of our British Christmas experience, yet they proclaim an extraordinary truth. Sing carols with your neighbours this Christmas!


3. Deliver Christmas tracts

How many of the people you pass in the streets know the quaint Christmas story of farmyard animals, angels on clouds and a baby lying idyllically in a manger? Probably most of them.

But how many know the story of the teenage mother who gave birth in the squalor of an animal house to a son rumoured to be illegitimate? How many acknowledge the terrifying supernatural encounter that a group of ordinary shepherds experienced that night in 1st century Palestine? How many realise that ‘infinity dwindled into infancy’ when the baby of the Christmas carols was born?

The unlikely, extraordinary truth that Christians believe about the birth of Jesus is that ‘the Word became flesh.’ That God himself took on the vulnerability of humanity and walked, talked, ate, laughed, wept, shouted, prayed and lived among us. In all the pain and in all the joy of it, he identified completely with our human experience. God chose to become a man, to join us in our ordinariness. And in doing so he saved us.

If you want your community to grasp something of the significance of this extraordinary story, why not step out and deliver some tracts through local letterboxes this Christmas? Pray for each one as it goes, and for the person receiving it.

Get your tracts here

4. Get creative – decorate your windows!

Rainbows in windows have become a familiar sight. How deeply appropriate! A symbol of God’s faithfulness to His promises.

During lockdown #1 one worker, Janice, found that her window art became a topic of conversation on her street. Yes, she drew rainbows. But then she branched out. One day a palm branch. The next day, the cross. The next, an empty tomb.  Janice’s windows told the story of a man who knew what it was like to be distanced from those He loved, to experience isolation and fear and to even face death.

As Janice’s windows shared the Easter story, could yours share the Christmas story? Simple images and verses. What might spark conversation on your street?

Collaborate as a church. All sharing the same images and verse on the same days through advent.

Your windows could be a simple means of pointing your community beyond the present, to a certain, future hope.


5. Support local efforts geared towards the most vulnerable

A recent Premier Christianity blog by Chris Goswami posed an important question, “Volunteering and compassion soared during lockdown – but where is it now?”

There were countless acts of kindness in communities across the UK over the spring months when we were in a nationwide lockdown. Neighbours shopping for those who were self-isolating; baked goods left on doorsteps; companies offering freebies as a gesture of appreciation to the NHS; people seeking out ways to support the most vulnerable in our society.

Goswami asks, “can Christians continue the momentum set by wider society and keep giving generously through this pandemic?”

Let’s keep the momentum going!

Give of your time or money to support those who are vulnerable or suffering in your local community.

Find out what your church is already doing; discover a food bank local to you; volunteer with a soup kitchen. More ideas? Share in the comments box below!

6. Share God’s love with one person

When we stop and think about it – the billions in this world, the countless individuals we pass on a day to day basis, who don’t yet know the extraordinary love of God – it can feel overwhelming.

Where do we begin to change this reality?

We start with one. One person who doesn’t know Jesus.

This seemingly ordinary step of sharing the love of Jesus with one person could be the beginning of something extraordinary. It is He, not us, who takes ordinary actions and words of love and multiplies them for His Kingdom.

Who could you share God’s love with this Christmas?

Commit to praying for them and serving them in small ways. Consider how you can share the good news of the Christmas story with them, in a way that connects with their context, speaks into their world view, and points them beyond, to Emmanuel, our God with us.

 

What are you, or your church, doing to reach out in your community this Christmas?

We’d love to hear your ideas and share them more widely!

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