Chinese Church Voices

Christmas Was Different for Chinese Churches

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.


Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the Christian faith and churches in China celebrate in many ways. However, because of COVID-19, there was potential for traditional celebrations to be cancelled at the last moment. This article from Gospel Times provided practical suggestions for successful celebrations even during a pandemic.

How to Celebrate Christmas during the Pandemic

Introduction

Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the Christian church. In normal times, churches can celebrate Christmas successfully as long as they take necessary safety measures. In the past two years, however, because of the pandemic in-person activities have remained irregular for many churches. This especially affects churches in rural areas or churches that have a large group of elderly believers. It would be a great challenge for churches that haven’t started small groups, since the members would not have an opportunity for in-person fellowship. Even though over the past two years we have gradually accepted and adjusted to such instability, preparations and backup plans still need to be made to reduce potential risks so that we all can have a joyful Christmas with nice memories.

How do we celebrate Christmas during the pandemic? First, we need to decide what kind of Christmas we want to have. In other words, what expectations do we have for Christmas? Do we want to remember the birth of Christ and refresh the spiritual lives of believers? Do we want to focus on evangelism? Do we want to allow brothers and sisters to perform in Christmas programs? Decisions always serve the goals, so how to celebrate Christmas depends on what expectations we have for Christmas. Here are some suggestions you might find helpful.

First, if you primarily want believers to perform at Christmas, you should celebrate Christmas as early as you can.

On the last Sunday of November, while I was preaching in a church, one of the leaders told me that he was very worried about the impact that the pandemic posed to Christmas. Because this church is in the coastal area, it is easy for new cases to arise from international trade, which would result in the church being immediately closed. Believers had spent long hours preparing for the Christmas program, and if it were canceled at the last minute, believers would feel very discouraged. Besides, how does one deal with those Christmas apples that have already been purchased?

I suggested to the church leader that they celebrate Christmas as early as possible, instead of waiting until December 24 or 25. In fact, people will have a sense of “celebrating Christmas” once the calendar turns to December, so you can choose any day to celebrate Christmas. I am very grateful that this leader accepted my suggestion, and after discussing with others in the church, decided to celebrate Christmas earlier.

Second, if you want to spread the gospel, try to celebrate Christmas on the weekend.

Although people often go to church on Christmas Eve, many would still consider whether this conflicts with their own schedule. On the weekend, however, most people rest, so it would be ideal to evangelize on the weekend. We can write invitations to people who are interested once we have decided the exact date.

We don’t need to prepare too many performances. Instead, choose ones that are relatively relaxed and comfortable. The role of the host is very important, because he not only introduces the performances, but also sets the tone and interacts with the audience. Flexible interactions allow people to get to know Christianity in a more relaxed atmosphere. In addition, we can ask believers to share some representative or particularly moving testimonies if we want to make Christmas purely focused on sharing the gospel, and let those testimonies speak to the audience.

In my opinion, if we want to use Christmas to preach the gospel, we need to focus on how to effectively evangelize, rather than focusing on shows and performances. I also suggest that we prepare some little gifts for people who decide to turn to Jesus instead of giving apples to everyone.

Third, if you want to remember the birth of Christ and rebuild the spiritual life of believers, you need to focus on communion with Christ rather than the Christmas party.

One Christmas party can’t make people think deeply and still their hearts to experience the renewal of the Holy Spirit, especially when this party involves strong elements of entertainment. If we want to remember the birth of Christ, we should still our hearts and have quiet communion with Christ. We know that Jesus was born in a dilapidated manger. We should learn from him, still our hearts, pray, fellowship, and work hard to practice humility, obedience, and sacrifice in our lives.

To achieve this goal, we can arrange devotional gatherings throughout December, and also ask workers at church to share scriptures related to the birth of Christ in the daily morning prayers. We can also have a Christmas gathering once a week that not only includes praying, singing hymns, and sharing testimonies, but also watching relevant videos to deepen our understanding of the birth of Christ. Moreover, we can also organize an activity during the month to serve our families or neighbors, to show that we are willing to walk with Jesus and serve him humbly.

Original article: 如何在疫情未解除的情况下过好圣诞节?, 福音时报
Translated, edited, and reposted with permission.

Image credit: Chad Madden on Unsplash.
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