I first noticed it last December. How I had missed it for forty-something years, I have no idea, but I did. Last December was different, though.
Last December, I heard something that made my heart leap, and filled me with wonder.
I heard hymns being sung in stores and being played on the radio. I heard people who don’t know the Lord singing His praises– “Oh, Come let us adore Him, Christ, The Lord!” “Fall on your knees…Oh, night when Christ was born.” “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!” People who don’t know our God were joyfully lifting their voices in songs of praise to Him at this time of year. I stood in awe.
“How can they sing about what they do not know?” I wondered. And then I realized what an amazing opportunity God gives His people each year to tell them about what they are singing. Do we hear it? Do we take advantage of it?
Many of us have been sharing ideas for things that we can do within our family– Advent reading calendars, decorating trees with the names of Christ as we examine Who He is and what He has done for us, and more– and those things are critically important for keeping our own hearts and minds stayed on Him and for shepherding the hearts of our children to know and love Him wholly.
But, are we missing even bigger discipleship and outreach opportunities, because we aren’t listening?
At this time of year, when people are joyfully singing praise to the Newborn King, wouldn’t it make sense that we would do everything we can as God’s families to introduce them to the One they are singing about?
Easy Christmas Outreach Ideas for Families.
One year, when our children were much younger, we made candy cane ornaments with little gift tags that detailed the legend of the candy cane. They offered us an instant evangelism tool as we left them behind with cashiers we met at stores, gave them to family members, and more. We may never know the impact those little gifts had on the recipients this side of eternity, but it allowed our children to see just how important it is to show people kindness and love and to tell them about Jesus. Here is a nice article about the legend of the candy cane, including a printable tag you can use when you hand them out. (Me, not being so creative, simply purchased a couple of kits from Oriental Trading. The kit we used doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but this one is similar.)
Another thing that our family has done through the years at different times has been to bake breads and make homemade apple butter to take out to our neighbors, along with gospel-rich cards. The kids always enjoyed the baking and preparation time as much as they did the visiting with neighbors time, and they still ask me each year if we’re going to bake for the neighbors. Especially the first time we did this, we were taken aback by just how much this simple act meant to those we were blessing with our little gifts.
You could host a Christmas Caroling party at your home. Open your doors and invite your neighbors to go Christmas Caroling with you. This is a great way, not only to help people reconnect with the Christmas story, but also to help your family engage your community through God’s love. Pray that God allows you to open natural conversation with them about some of the lyrics they are singing. You may be surprised to find hearts wide open for the good news of the gospel during this season, and at the very least you will be building relationships that God can use to open more doors throughout the year. Your children will see the importance of reaching out to those God has placed closest to you, and they will have a fun evening to remember as well.
I have heard of church groups setting up Christmas present wrapping stations at local malls and shopping centers, perhaps your family could do the same. Or, perhaps you could simply offer your services within your neighborhood. Once again, this expression of kindness can be used to open doors for gospel conversations both this month and then continuing throughout the year as you build that relationship. This doesn’t take a whole lot of preparation, time or money, but it would definitely be a great way to show God’s love as you bless others during what can become a busy stressful time for many.
Minister to those in need this Christmas season. The days and nights are long and very cold for those who are in need, and this time of year provides a natural way for believers to meet those needs physically which often opens the doors for us and others to meet spiritual needs as well. In our community, there are rescue missions, donation stations, and more that can use our help. Perhaps, your family could open your hearts and home to widows in your church or neighborhood, military families who are separated this holiday season or who are adjusting to a new way of life after a deployment is over, college students who don’t have the money to go home for the holidays, young couples who find themselves alone this Christmas, etc. Perhaps you and some friends could carol at a local nursing home or retirement community. There are needs all around us, and this season provides a wonderfully natural platform for God’s people to meet them as we celebrate the greatest gift ever given.
If you have a lot of young families in your neighborhood, perhaps you could use this time of year to host a Christmas craft party for some of the children. When school gets out, many families struggle with the lack of routine. Hosting a fun morning for the young moms and their children could become a fun tradition in your neighborhood, and could open some great doors for building relationships and sharing your faith.
These are just a sampling of ways your family could take advantage of the open doors that are all around us this month. Will you? Will you (and I) make it a priority to look outside of ourselves and step out of our comfort zones to share the good news of this miraculous birth with those all around us? Will we tell them the true good news of this season– about the greatest gift ever given? Will we model for our children what love for God and others looks like when it is lived out? Will we take a break from the busy-ness we create for ourselves this season (and all year long, really) to truly focus on others and on the open doors God provides for us? Will we allow our soul to thrill as we hear the big, professional voices singing praise to our God through the loudspeakers of the grocery store and shopping centers, and will we be moved by His great gift to us to share His love with everyone we can?
Looking for more Christmas Outreach ideas?
Here is an article we published several years ago by Ann Dunagan about having a Mission-Minded Christmas. Here is a good reminder from Rachel Jankovic about keeping your priorities in order this Christmas. And, here is a very short article, featuring a Christmas essay written by one of my children several years ago that is sure to turn all of our hearts and minds right onto what we should be focusing this month.
Your Turn To Share!
Share some of your family’s best Christmas outreach ideas and traditions in the comments below. I would LOVE to hear from you!
O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name