An article I recently read by Christian Camp Pro said: “To know that you are loved by the church is one thing; to feel loved by the church is another." Now, more than ever, people need to feel the love from their church. The number who have continued to attend in person, as well as all those that watch online, shows how eager people are for the message of hope in Jesus. With Advent season on the horizon, I am personally overwhelmed with the need for church. Last year was a hard year. According to Outreach Magazine, “Christmas 2020 may be one of the most important Advent celebrations we have ever seen – even if it has to be online.”1 And 2021 isn’t looking much different.
Back to my original statement, churches should be asking themselves how to make members (and the rest of their community) feel loved. This time of year is normally all about love. But for those unable to spend the holidays with loved ones, the idea of love and hope can be far from thought. With jobs lost and families distanced, people are going to turn to their church for support.
So, what can churches do to make people truly feel loved? While every church is a whole, we must remember that the church is not a building, it’s a people.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27
The first step is to reach out and respond. For example, if your church offers prayer requests through their website, make sure someone calls as soon as possible to pray with them. Show them that they are not alone by keeping those website, email and Facebook accounts monitored. And don’t forget to get those sites updated with Christmas information. After all, people search online for “church” at Christmas and Easter more than any other time of the year. Share online messages as far and wide as possible. Utilize the many aspects of technology to reach those who need to hear the story of Christmas.
Unlike other Christmases, your prominent message isn’t going to be about coming to service on Christmas Eve. You may not be able to even have a service to attend. Instead, focus on the message people need to hear. It needs to be hopeful. Send a simple Christmas card from the church. Attach a link or resource of the story of Christmas. You can even give your church members invitation cards to share the Christmas information with their friends and family. Additionally, you can provide content for families and individuals to use that coincides with your December services, especially if they are online.
Forget everything you know about Christmas activities up until this point. This year is different. Most holiday traditions are too crowded. The focus needs to be on the people, whether members of the church or not, in any setting.
There is so much fear and uncertainty. Whether they already know Jesus or not, this is the most critical time for a reminder.
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
1Evans, Scott. “ReDiscover Christmas.” Outreach Magazine, November/December 2020, pg. 10.