Every year at this time, most people are in the throes of celebration, festivities and joyous experiences. Hearts are merry, spirits are upbeat, treasured memories are made. The Christmas season simply exudes these precious moments for many.
But not for all.
Within the season, there always are some who find grief magnified, loneliness greater and joy almost non-existent. They have felt the crushing blow of magnificent Christmases past, the desolation of Christmas present and the apparent hopelessness of Christmases future. They are in the depths of Christmas blues.
Churches can be the same way.
While many are rejoicing and celebrating with the best of them, others—particularly declining and dying ones—are struggling to find anything special in the season. Often, Christmas does just the opposite, enlarging the emptiness we feel and the helplessness we experience.
So, what’s such a church to do? How can it recapture the wonder of the season in meaningful and momentum-building ways?
Here are four tips for beating the Christmas blues:
- Make your Advent moments special. As you lead the church through Advent, find ways to involve your people in making the season more precious. Develop a prayer calendar for each day in the month, or write cards to missionaries who won’t be here with extended family for Christmas. Have a special birthday celebration time for Jesus (it is His birthday, after all), or get family units to light the Advent Candle and read the Scripture each week. There are many ways to make the moments special for everyone.
- Make memories as a church. In addition, you should strive to make memories as a church together that will not easily be forgotten. While many of us will have a children’s pageant (if we have children in our church), we can also enhance worship by making services simple, or having someone dress as a character from the biblical Christmas story and share their story. You can sing a Christmas carol or two “acapella,” or interview church members about favorite Christmas moments when Jesus made an impact and was very real to them. You can hold a cookie swap or even give each member a small symbolic item or homemade Christmas ornament, to remind them of Christmas at your church. Memories can be treasured for decades, so don’t miss this opportunity!
- Simple missional outreach. There are many ways for a normative church to get involved in missional outreach during the season. Going caroling is still “en vogue” in certain parts of the county, while offering hot cocoa and cookies could be special where the weather is on the chilly side. A Nativity scene, whether live, “drive through” or in decorative form, could be used to remind people of the meaning of Christmas. Reaching out with love and an a card of thanks to school teachers, first responders or simply your neighbors can make huge impact in the community. And a Christmas Eve evening worship service of music and candles can be one of the best annual outreach opportunities a church can hold to reach newcomers to their community. Don’t miss the opportunity Christmas season affords to share Jesus wherever you can!
- Sharing with people in need. Finally, there are many around us who are down on their luck or struggling in a variety of ways during the season. Collecting toys for underprivileged children, visiting shut-ins and nursing homes to celebrate with those home-bound, remembering the loved ones and families of those who lost a member over the past year: all these efforts will bless others and share God’s love. And if you don’t know where help is needed, your local community officials can direct you toward those who may need it most.
Most of these ideas don’t cost the church money, just simply take some time and intentionality. But with the busyness of the world today and the loneliness many still feel, isn’t it worth the effort to make the birth of our Savior significant? Not only will it bless you and make your season this year more special; it could help your church beat the “Christmas blues” and usher in the New Year with anticipation and joy of what God has yet in store.
Published December 12, 2023