THE IMPORTANCE OF ADVENT

The Importance of Advent and Christmas:

Unique Ideas for Outreach

by Steve Dunn

The Advent and Christmas season are exciting and inspiring times in the life of most churches.  It is also one of prime times of the year when God seems to have the world’s attention–even if Christ is squeezed into all the other activities. People “go to church” during the season but not generally because they are seeking a Savior.  People tend to go to church during Advent and Christmas for family reasons or to recapture some warm past memories of their childhood.

Many churches focus on one of two things during this time: (1) Outreach projects, focusing on giving to the least and the last, and (2) Christmas programs to help inspire people with the eternal message of Christmas.  Both are admirable aims.

But there are some other aspects of this season that create primary ministry opportunities.  Here are a few:

It is a season of grief. The loss of a loved one in the previous year often has its first painful visitation during the family time that is Christmas. How about providing some opportunities for grief care or grief groups open to the public?

It is a season of loneliness.  Broken relationships or distance from children, for example, make the Christmas season a lonely journey; especially for those in nursing homes.  Instead if simply Christmas caroling, what about a series of evenings or afternoons where people go in pairs to visit residents who have no church or no family and just spend time with them?

It is a season of family stress.  People often dread the holidays because the fault lines in relationships begin appearing. What about an evening of hot chocolate or warm cider offered to the community staffed by a good Christian family counselor with suggestions and strategies for managing that relational stress?

All three of these outreaches create the potential for building redemptive relationships with seekers and the unchurched after the decorations come down and the Christmas carols stop filling the air.