From our archives a useful article as you do your Christmas planning:
Many churches consider the Christmas season a huge success if they have a large turn-out at Christmas events, but sadly, many of them remind me of the line from Macbeth where he describes life as "fully of sound and fury, signifying nothing." That may seem a bit harsh, but it is tragedy to celebrate the birth of the Savior without telling people about Him. Following is a true, but sad story about one such event and how it could be different…..
Sad, but true story of a city-wide Christmas outreach
As in all the stories I tell on the Effective Church Communication website, this is a true story, but without details, location, people, or church mentioned. I also remind people who because I look at and am passed on stories about communications from churches literally from all around the world (one of our latest members and stories came from a Pastor leading a group of churches in the Australian bush), if you think the story is about you, it probably isn't.
Here is what happened: a church in a large city decided to host a Living Nativity for their community. They were given a large lot with a winding driveway leading up to it in a location near a busy shopping area. Because of generous donations by many members (it was a moderately large, well-off church) they put on an extravaganza. There was a huge turnout every night for the week it was held. And no wonder—they put on quite a show. They had live animals, a full size inn, angel choirs, and leading up the road, Roman soldiers and shepherds in the field. They had 3 shifts of actors in full costumes and make-up. They had cider and cookies for guests as they left.
What was the one thing they didn't have?
Any communication, that in any way, told people what they were seeing and invited them to learn more about Jesus.
What a sad, missed opportunity.
When I asked why they didn't create any communication pieces that told guests about Jesus, the extremely frustrated church communicator who was part of the host church replied that "they didn't want to seem pushy."
I have heard that excuse many, many times when I've asked church communicators, after looking at seasonal communications, why they didn't include anything about Jesus or how to find out more about Him. Though I appreciate the desire for civility in our world that is often lacking in this characteristic, I think in this instance the desire was misplaced. We wouldn't think it pushy if we saw a crowd of people passing by who were heading to their deaths off a cliff they couldn't see in the mist. It wouldn't seem pushy to warn them. It isn't any different to have a crowd of people pass through a church event that are on their way to an eternity of conscious, unending suffering if they don't know Jesus as Savior. They need a warning also.
Jesus did not come into the world to give us the theme for a Christmas pageant—he came to save us from our sins and the just penalty for them.
Don't hide the real reason for your celebration—
You aren't being pushy if you tell people the reason for the "great Joy" the angels sang about. The Gospel is GOOD NEWS—it is something we can share with great joy!
You don't have to individually corner and preach at every person that drives through a Living Nativity to share with them. People will take anything you give them as they leave something like this or a church service where you have entertained them with a professional, uplifting program. If you give them a brochure, flyer, card, CD or DVD they will take it and will probably look it over at home. Here are some suggestions of what you could put on it:
We are so glad you shared this evening with us as we celebrated why "Jesus is the Reason for the Christmas Season." We also know that for many people who come to see our show, many of you don't know much more about Jesus than his birth is an excuse to spend time with family and give gifts.
But his life is about so much more and we would love to share that with you. On this card are some links to our (website, Facebook page, YouTube videos, Vimeo channel, whatever) that will tell you more about Jesus and give you some links to explore his life further. Though his birth is the story of legends, he made some truly revolutionary claims during his life, that if they were true (and we believe they are), make an eternal difference for all of us.
We invite you to check out these resources and remember our church is always here for you!
Something like the short statement above, with a hand-out that has more information and links totally changes your event from mere entertainment that signifies little beyond the moment into a potentially life-changing encounter.
Don't have time to make up a communication hand-out like this?
No worries! I have one FREE for you –just follow the link here and download it: https://www.effectivechurchcom.com/2012/11/a-christmas-letter-you-can-use-to-share-jesus-with-your-church-friends-and-family/
Here are 2 more articles and ideas for outreach at Christmas:
6 communication strategies for successful Christmas outreach
4 ways to overcome the fear of being too pushy about Christmas evangelism
It won't take much time to make up a simple handout, but far more important than impressing them with the extravagant or humble Christian production of your church is that you make the most of this opportunity to encourage them to find out more about Jesus.