It seems like only yesterday all the children (and adults) were returning to school. The crisp, fall air made us think of cooler nights, harvests and pumpkin pie. Now we’ve turned the corner and Christmas is almost upon us. The Christmas season presents a myriad of opportunities for ministry. The key to successful ministry during this time of year is advance planning! Waiting until December will be too late.
What do young women with preschoolers need most during this holiday season? Time away from the children? Probably! Set several free child-care dates so moms can do Christmas shopping unencumbered. Enlist enough women to provide the free care, making certain the ratio of adults to children is right. Mothers will feel uncomfortable leaving their children if they see 15 children to one adult. Make arrangements to provide a snack for the children. NOTE: Be sure to have moms complete an allergy card before they leave.
Don’t let this opportunity be just a babysitting event. Plan crafts or other activities for the children so the time away from their mothers is positive. Send each child home with information about activities/programs your church provides on a regular basis. Families are reached because of what is provided for the children! Make sure you publicize this event all over your community. Having only the church family participate is not the goal of this ministry.
Another Christmas activity to engage persons in your community is providing free gift-wrapping. This is often done at booths in malls. One church’s choir sang in the mall and while they were singing, others distributed free tape for wrapping. Attached to the tape was a note with a Christmas message about God’s love and the address of the church. Whether you provide gift-wrapping or tape, use the holiday itself as an opportunity to touch people with the true message of the season.
A small church set up a Walk Through Bethlehem for young children and their families. It was a lot of work but well worth it when they saw families learn about the birth of Jesus as they walked through stables, saw the nativity scene, and saw shepherds in the field. The walking tour was outside – it was cold – and a wonderful way to share the good news of Christ’s birth. Refreshments were served inside the church gymnasium. Information about the church was available and members circulated and talked to those who came. Again, publicity is critical if this outreach ministry is to be a success. Advertise on local radio stations (usually free), with posters in stores, by word of mouth, and with postcard-style pieces distributed by your members.
It may seem like a distant hope, but spring will come! Winter weather and wild wind will fade into the soft rains of spring. Life will begin to bud again. Spring is on its way.