In case you missed my sermon last Sunday or were day dreaming about Christmas shopping during it, I included this sentence:
“Christmas is one of the occasions when I don’t really care about my church… I care much more about the Church.”
I know that may seem a little bit harsh, but Christmas, along with Easter, is one of the 2 times of the year where we have people from outside the church still coming to us. I’m not sure how much longer in our society that will continue so we have to make the most of these opportunities as they present themselves. I was speaking to another local Anglican minister this week who was lamenting that his Scripture Class did not know either ‘Away in a manger’ or my favourite carol, ‘Silent night’…
Even with our wonderful new redevelopment we cannot expect that people will just come to us. Another clergy friend of mine (who just so happens to lead the biggest Anglican Church in the Diocese) told me this week that for their church to grow to the next level they have had to move from a ‘Welcoming’ to an ‘Invitational’ culture.
We have our first community carols tonight and I have no idea how many will come or if anyone from the community will come at all… When this other church started their carols (this year will be their 5th) they had 120 people. Last year they had over 900 on 2 separate nights! The big difference is that people in his church have moved from just welcoming outsiders and newcomers when they come, to actually purposefully inviting people to come. He told me about some families that were having pre-Carols parties with their friends and organising transport for everyone so they could go together.
In the foyer of our church are some wonderfully designed Christmas fliers that you might be able to use as an invitational tool. Who do you know that has had a tough year? Could you invite them to the Blue Christmas service? Who do you know that used to go to church, could you invite them to a Christmas service? Do you have grandchildren visiting – bring them to the Nativity Service. It’s actually surprisingly easier to invite people at this time of year than any other time of year. Going to church at Christmas is nowhere near as weird as going any other time of year!
Why not give it a try now and invite someone to the Carols tonight!
The other side to an invitational culture is a culture of service, which I do think we are getting better and better at. Christmas is a prime opportunity for us to serve those who don’t normally or regularly come to church and in doing so we are actually demonstrating the type of Christian community that attracted so many in early church times.
We can serve in so many different ways. It could be as simple as smiling at someone you don’t recognise or if you are feeling brave, even try and start a conversation with them. It could be as simple as taking one of the worst seats in the church instead of your normal seat. We have many spots to fill on our rosters, and Anne would love you to email her at [email protected] if you are willing to help in this way. You might even have an idea of helping in a way that we haven’t thought of.
I do love Christmas and I do love it when our church works together to serve. I pray that we will continue to make the most of the opportunities we are given to actively serve, welcome and invite.
Have a great week!