Some things never change. Every Christmas seems to come around too quickly! Suddenly we’re into November, and the countdown begins. Every year, Christmas brings new people into our churches and therefore fresh opportunities to share the amazing truth of God with us.

However, as people come and go to Christmas services, it sometimes leaves us wondering whether it makes any difference. Does anyone care about the real meaning of Christmas or are they just here for the free mince pies?

There is something about Christmas that brings comfort. We eat the same foods every year. We watch the same movies. We listen to Michael Bublé again. It is a fantastic blessing that Christmas traditions are loved by many, and attending a church service seems a little less intimidating when carols are sung and people wear tea towels on their heads. In fact, in a world that seems to become more chaotic as time passes, it is age-old traditions and unchanged stories that appeal to people. The challenge for the church is two-fold: how do we hold on to the traditions we have come to love, without letting traditions become everything we offer?

Go tell it on the mountains in the pub

At Christmas time, we are used to inviting people into our spaces, but Paul inspires us with his vision to preach the gospel where Christ is not known” (Romans 15:20). In line with the Christmas message, rather than inviting people to come to us, we could focus our gaze outwards, and aim to meet people where they are. Where do people in your community naturally gather? My church does Carols on the Green’ and Carols at IKEA’ – because these are places our local community meets. Could you bring your Christmas celebrations to a pub, café or community centre near your church?

A nativity with a twist?

Rather than just copying last year’s hymn sheet, it is worth thinking about whether you can make the Christmas story come to life in your church and community this year. How about delving deeper into the story of one of the characters (Mary, an angel or the donkey) or exploring different themes relating to the Christmas message (Herod’s political power, Joseph and Mary as refugees in Egypt or the unifying power of the birth of Christ for people from different backgrounds)? Some churches have set up treasure hunts throughout the community for children to explore various parts of the Christmas story in the days leading up to Christmas. Why not ask creative-minded people in your church to take the lead and come up with something new that points people back to the hope nativity?

Rather than just copying last year’s hymn sheet, it is worth thinking about whether you can make the Christmas story come to life in your church and community this year.

Say the message, be the message

In addition to proclaiming a message, Christmas is also about embodying it. As many face a winter with no means to heat their homes or feed their children, the message of a God who became poor for our sake will resonate in new ways with people’s lived experiences. As refugees from Ukraine and migrants from Hong Kong have joined our communities, we have new opportunities to engage with the story of a God who left His heavenly home to enable us to find rest in Him. Christmas is the time to back up our words with action, and practically show that the story of Christmas has an impact on our lives and priorities today. How can your church live out the Christmas message of laying down our own rights and serving without holding anything back? After all, Christmas is all about giving.

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The most valuable thing this world affords

But rather than join our society in focusing on the consumable, we can point towards something that is eternal. Queen Elizabeth was given a Bible as the most valuable thing this world affords” at her coronation, and it might also be the best Christmas gift we can offer people this year. The recent Talking Jesus report has explored the different ways in which the average person engages with the Christian faith. It may surprise you that 24% of people come to faith through reading the Bible – second only to growing up in a Christian family. So, the challenge for us this Christmas is to find ways of offering the familiar stories of scripture to people who have never read it for themselves, or who do not think it is relevant. This festive season, how can we demonstrate a different way of living and loving that nudges people to take a second look at the message of Jesus for themselves? How about giving away a Bible or family resources for people to take home and explore with friends?

The challenge of Christmas is centuries old. And yet, the opportunities are huge every year to enable people to gain a deeper insight into the Christmas story, and help them experience the hope of Christmas afresh for the first time. How can you make sure your event or conversation leaves someone thinking, I never knew that about Christmas? Or even better, how can you give people a fresh encounter with the Christmas story that leaves them thinking, I never knew that about Christ?

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Have you made a great Christmas resource you'd like to share?

Are you an organisation with a great mission or evangelism resource for Halloween? If you’re a member, submit your resource(s) online to the Christmas section of our Great Commission resource hub, by filling in the form here (you’ll need to have your organisation’s details ready).