Are you like me? Do you suffer from Christmas failure?
I know Jesus is the reason for the season. That he’s the best gift of all. I can recite Luke 2 and sing every verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I give generously and in Jesus’ name. I even remind my grandchildren that Santa is pretend, but Jesus is real.
Our family Christmas celebrations are sacred, not secular. We read the Christmas story beforewe open presents. A birthday cake for Jesus sits as the centerpiece of our holiday buffet. And we always set a place at the table for someone who would otherwise spend the holiday alone.
But somehow, if I’m not intentional, our celebrations will turn selfish. Without intending to, we keep the best gift—the gospel—the good news of Christmas to ourselves. We hide this life-changing light under a red velvet bushel instead of using the worldwide commemoration of Jesus’ birth to let him shine.
Remarkably, even in a cultural climate that almost demands we celebrate “RamaHanuKwanzmas,” we still have the freedom to share the God-in-flesh who made Christmas possible. Despite attempts to “X” Christ out of Christmas, the holiday still bears his name. Unsaved people sing that “God and sinners” were reconciled, and Scrooges drop money into red kettles. On December 25, our 90-mile-an-hour world screeches to a halt, gathers with family and friends, and pauses.
Those of us who know Jesus as our Savior can speak the gospel into these holy pauses. Like the shepherds of old, we can share the good news that a Savior has been born, who is Christ the Lord.
But we must be intentional. And prayerful. And Spirit led.
If you, like me, tend to be a Christmas failure, this year can be different. Here are five ideas to get you thinking.
Give in Jesus’ Name and Tell Them Why
My husband and I often gave to individuals and ministries out of gratitude to God for the gift of his Son, Jesus, but we never thought to share the motivation behind our gifts. By not doing so, we missed many great witnessing opportunities. Now when we give, we include a note that says something like this: “Two thousand years ago God gave us the greatest gift of all—his Son, Jesus. We hope you’ll accept this gift in his name. We give in honor of him because of the difference he’s made in our lives.”
Host a Christmas Gathering
While in some ways our world is more connected than ever, people increasingly long for face-to-face, real time interaction. Many have never been invited into someone’s home. Capitalize on this by inviting friends, neighbors, and coworkers to a simple Christmas Gathering in your home.
The brainchild of Joyce Bademan, the ministry Christmas Gatherings began when she was invited to share the meaning of Christmas at two separate holiday parties. The response was thrilling, and in January, over half of the participants expressed an interest in and attended Bible studies in the hostesses’ homes.
Excited at how easy it was to share the gift of Jesus in an atmosphere of love, laughter, and holiday cheer, Joyce told her discipleship group of six women about her experience. The next year, each woman hosted a Christmas Gathering, which included festive food, a time to share holiday traditions, and a 10-15 minute Christmas-themed gospel presentation by a special guest.
From those simple parties in 1981, the idea has spread like Christmas lights on Main Street. There have been 1,200 parties held by individuals and attended by 18,000 people. More than 2,040 people committed their lives to Christ, and 3,600 people were interested in coming to a follow up Bible study. All because two families hosted holiday parties and invited a friend to share the meaning of Christmas. If you’d like more information about how to host a Christmas Gathering, visit www.ChristmasGatherings.com.
Invite Your Unsaved Friend to a Christmas Event
While this may seem like a no-brainer, I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten (or been reluctant) to invite my unsaved neighbors and friends to a holiday event at my church or in the community. From the small group Christmas party (complete with a white elephant gift exchange), to the Christmas musical, to the Christmas Eve service, opportunities abound to connect people to the gospel at the holidays.
And while we may hesitate to invite unchurched friends to our gatherings, studies have shown that people are more likely to attend an event at a church during the Christmas season than at any other time of the year. Christmas provides cultural “permission” to attend an organized religious gathering or program.
Your friends are much more likely to come if you invite them to go with you. Then, if the timing allows, ask them to join you afterward for a bite to eat at home or at a restaurant. Ask them to tell you their story. Then share yours. Be sure to include the best part—how you met Jesus and how he’s changed your life.
Serve with Them
Serving alongside our friends and neighbors is a wonderful way to build relationships and open doors to share the gospel with them. When we look for places to serve, we usually think of organized ministries or missions, but many times the need is right in front of us. The elderly neighbor who’d love to have Christmas lights on her home but can’t hang them. The coworker going through cancer treatment who needs help with yard work, cleaning, or car maintenance.
Is there a single person, a widow or widower, or someone who’s lonely that you can reach out to? Invite an unsaved or unchurched friend, coworker, or neighbor to help you help them. As you serve together, watch for natural opportunities to share your story and his story.
Invite Them Over for Dinner and a Movie
Whether you watch a funny movie, like The Muppet Christmas Carol, or one that leads naturally into a gospel conversation, like The Nativity Story, use the movie as a conversation starter. Ask questions like, “When you were a child, how did your family celebrate Christmas?” or “Why do you think Christmas is such an important holiday to so many people?”
Listen carefully to their answers. Show them you’re interested, not just waiting for them to finish so you can speak. After you’ve listened well, share with them why you’re a Christian. Tell them how much Jesus means to you and how he’s transformed your life. Your testimony doesn’t have to be scripted or perfect. The best gospel presentations are those that come from someone who genuinely cares about others.
For years I was a Christmas failure, but no more. I’ve committed to plan ahead and not let another Christmas go by without using every opportunity to share the reason for the hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15).
Two thousand years ago, God shrugged off his royal robe and donned a robe of flesh. He left his heavenly home and dwelt among men. He ate. He worked. He played. He wept at the tomb of a friend, earned a living by the sweat of his brow, and felt the pain of abandonment and betrayal. He loved those who were unlovable and gave his life to purchase their salvation.
The good news of Christmas is that God came to earth to save us from our sins. The greatest gift we can give another is to introduce them to Jesus. But it’s not going to happen unless we’re intentional. How will you share Christ with someone this holiday season?
Lori Hatcher is the author of the 2016 Christian Small Publisher of the Year Book of the Year winner, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. An author, blogger, speaker, and pastor’s wife, Lori enjoys helping busy people connect with God. Connect with her at www.LoriHatcher.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.