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7 Outreach Ideas You Can Use With Your Church Christmas Program

They say ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year,’ but from Thanksgiving until New Year’s, the season is filled to the max with shopping, parties, cooking, travel, spending time with loved ones – and more. Your church may be planning a spectacular Christmas program this year, but have you considered how you might use your church Christmas program reach deeper into your community?

Your church Christmas program is a wonderful opportunity to share the story of how God sent Jesus to earth to be the Savior of mankind. But what if you organized other outreach activities in addition to your church Christmas program to make an even deeper connection with your community?

While it might seem like your church Christmas program will just get lost somewhere between here and the North Pole, don’t discount the fact that the Christmas season is the loneliest and saddest time of the year for many. These are the ones who need to see, hear and experience the Good News of the Gospel from those of us who really do believe it – even as we dash from sale to sale and party to party.

Because Christmas is the perfect time to connect with your community.

If your church has a heart to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, consider organizing a few of the eleven activities described below to coincide with your church Christmas program.  You’ll want to choose activities that fit your church culture and ones that provide enough variety to attract different segments of your church.

#1: Organize a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party
Everybody loves Christmas cookies and candies and everyone seems to have a specialty. Why not invite the ladies of your church to bring a friend or two to a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party. Everyone brings a couple dozen of their favorite Christmas treat to exchange. And to add a meaningful touch to the event, have everyone bring a small gift – either something for a food basket, a young unwed mother needing baby items, or a family in need. Serve coffee and refreshments, have the ladies work together to organize the gift baskets, have them exchange treats with one another and then close with a prayer and a Christmas carol. This is something that any woman should feel comfortable attending and enjoy.

#2: Organize a ‘It Stinks To Work on Christmas” outreach event
No one likes to work at Christmas. So why not organize an outreach event to connect with those who have to work: policeman, fireman, healthcare workers, shop attendants and others. Have your church members sign up to make or purchase Christmas treats and then assign them places to take a box or basket of goodies. It’s a good idea to drop a Christmas card in with the goodies with a message like, “We know it stinks to work on Christmas but we hope these little goodies lift your spirit, put a smile on your face, and joy in your heart and that you feel the love of the Christ Child this season.” Your church members will make a meaningful connection with community members and the recipients will be touched that they were appreciated and remembered.

#3: Give Gifts Cards
Have your church members purchase several $5.00 gift cards for coffee, a fast food meal or donut shop. Have some simple business cards printed and inserted along with the card with a message such as : “This Christmas we want to share the love of Christ with this small blessing. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas.” And then add the name of your church and list yoru church website. Then organize an outing to a mall, Christmas market or parade and give them away to strangers with a simple, ‘Merry Christmas’.

#4: Organize A Living Nativity Scene
All you’ll need are a few willing adults and/or children, some Biblical-like costumes, a simple set (think bales of hay and a manger) and maybe a boom box playing Christmas carols. You can do this in a mall, in front of your church or at a local Christmas market. Have other church members in the crowd to engage folks in conversation. Use it as a way to connect with people.

#5: Invite People to Church
People who never darken the door of a church during the year, are more likely to visit a church during Christmas. For some reason, they are just more open to the idea so take advantage of it. Take the opportunity to print up a special flyer to promote your church Christmas musical or play, your live Nativity scene or Christmas Eve service. Pass them out to your members and encourage each one to invite 10-20 family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Some people will come just because you asked them to. Others will come to see you or little Johnny playing Joseph in the church play.

#6: Organize a Night of Caroling
Appoint ‘Community Carol Leaders’ and ask your church to sign up for a ‘Night of Caroling’ in their neighborhoods. The Carol Leaders will organize the start time and itinerary. Church staff can provide song sheets, Christmas promotion flyers for distribution. Carol for five minutes, close with ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ and before you leave, hand them a flyer and a candy cane for each family member.

#7: Christmas Eve Meal
Although many folks celebrate Christmas with their families, not everyone has family. Encourage your church to seek out their friends who don’t have family or are too far from family and invite them to church for a nice Christmas Eve meal before your Christmas Eve service. It may be the only Christmas they’ll have.

If you’re looking for a church Christmas program for your church or school, click here to learn more about ‘Christmas at Bethlehem Inn’.

How a Lowly Innkeeper Inspired Me to Write a Christmas Play for Church

I’ve always loved a great Christmas play for church. I loved watching a Biblical story come to life with Old or New Testament characters standing under theatrical lights delivering their lines in full costume on sets reminiscent of the Holy Land.

The plays always touched me with their attempt at authenticity, the passion of the stories and truth woven into the script.

The first play I acted in was about Daniel and the Lion’s Den. I played the role of King Nebuchadnezzar. My mom made me a special ‘gown’ out of purple fabric with silver cords for a belt and one of her old frosted wigs for a beard (I was only 13). They even put baby powder in my hair to make it look gray.

I got to stomp, yell and be a very bad person – right in front of the church. How many people can do that and get away with it? Nebuchadnezzar could. (Of course, he also ended up going insane and eating grass in a  cow pasture!)

Over the years I didn’t get many more chances to be in plays. But in my late 20’s we started attending a church in Jackson, Mississippi that used plays as outreaches. I got involved doing some writing, and eventually wrote several that we presented.

One of my favorites was the Easter story told through the eyes of the women that walked with Jesus – Mary, Martha, Susanna and Lydia. There’s not a lot in the Bible about these ladies but I took poetic license and imagined what it must have been like for them to be near Jesus and the disciples as He performed miracles, preached to crowds and eventually was crucified and resurrected.

Surely these ladies shared in the joy and sorrows of Jesus and His disciples. That’s what I tried to capture in that play.

I enjoyed that process so much that I decided to explore a similar path involving the Bethlehem innkeeper and his family, imagining how Joseph and Mary knocked on their door one evening and out of compassion, the innkeeper offered the expectant couple a humble place to spend the night.

The innkeeper must have had a normal life up until that point. But he was thrown into the greatest story ever told and must have had some interesting interactions with Joseph, and Mary. I imagined the innkeeper having a wife, a son and a grouchy mother-in-law and the kinds of conversations that must have ensued as they grappled with the truths just behind their home in the stable.

  • Why were all these visitors coming to see this baby?
  • Why were Joseph and Mary so elusive in their story?
  • And why in the world was a big star hanging in the sky right above their inn?

These are questions I explored in a Christmas play for church  that became known as ‘Christmas At Bethlehem Inn.’ Although the most important parts of the story are pure Biblical, I had to take some license to imagine what went on in that inn in Bethlehem during the two years Joseph, Mary and Jesus stayed there before fleeing to Egypt. My hope was to offer a different perspective – one from the eyes of a family who saw it all and must have been affected by the lives of some of the most important players in God’s great story.

So far, the play has been performed by churches in at least eight states in the United States as well as in four other countries – including as a radio program in Sri Lanka.

And every year, I love to think that somewhere in a church some little boy or girl is watching my Christmas play for church and feeling the same excitement that I felt about seeing a story jump to life off the pages of the Bible.

If you’re looking for a Christmas play for church, click here to learn more about ‘Christmas at Bethlehem Inn’.

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