In this article, originally published in Gospel Times, a Christian openly wonders about the effectiveness Christmas evangelistic services.
Advice for Churches: Evangelism on Christmas
Christmas is just around the corner. We joyfully celebrate because we are grateful to our savior. At the same time, since the holiday is about Jesus, it is a wonderful time to introduce nonbelievers to Jesus and share the gospel.
This reminds me of my participation in the Christmas activities of the church many years ago.
On that snowy evening, we donned our robes and lined up from the gate of the church to the hall, joyfully greeting everyone who came to attend the holiday services. Even though the church made adequate preparations, we could hardly cope with so many people inside and outside the church. We added a few more performances and everyone was exhausted. But as the stage filled up with people claiming to believe in Christ, we all had tears of gratitude. It felt like a great revival. However, as the holiday spirit subsided, the number of church members didn't change. There were barely any new believers who converted on Christmas.
Who knew that the situation would remain the same, even with all the input of manpower and money! For this reason, some churches have changed their Christmas services from being outside oriented to being inside oriented; they have turned it into a holiday for Christians only.
Looking back, maybe we were overanxious for quick results. It is impossible to alter one's belief with sermons and performances of less than an hour, let alone acquire a correct philosophy of life and values. This is especially true since people who come on Christmas are there mostly for the fun of the holidays. Most of the people who responded were under the influence of passion and acted out of their impulses. Such passion is superficial and does not last. Just like when Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish, those emotional people wanted to take him by force and make him king. But the next day, many people left. As Jesus told us, it was the heart of stone with no change.
So, does it mean we don't need to preach through Christmas? No! Apart from preaching the gospel, we also need to seize the opportunity to truly bless our friends who are seeking. We need to change our methods, but not the goal.
We can’t expect good results if we are not paying attention to evangelism in our everyday lives. We should visit and talk with friends. The focus should mainly be on family members, and friends of the brothers and sisters, so that they can feel the care and love of the church. Preaching should be more focused.
It’s important to teach the concept of God before Christmas, that is to believe in the creation. Otherwise, they will not believe anything you say, and the performance will be just entertainment.
The holiday performances play a supporting role to the sermons. Therefore, the sermons can't be too rigid, and there should be more interaction. Through interaction, raise some questions and ask the seekers to answer. The questions should be ones that can get people thinking, instead of difficult questions about faith. For example, ask people "which came first, the egg or the chicken." All people will start thinking and then introduce the subject that God created all.
When giving Christmas gifts, each person should be equal, especially for the seekers. Visit them before Christmas so they may feel the love during the holiday. Paying return visits is just as important.
Image credit: Season of Colors, by Eustaquio Santimano, via Flickr
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