As we race toward the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday seasons, there are many opportunities for you to reach out to families in your community. Particularly for a replant, these outreach opportunities are wonderful occasions for you to meet folks you probably wouldn’t meet otherwise and to share the hope of the gospel to hurting families.
This list isn’t meant to be anywhere near exhaustive. And some of them may not be feasible for you this year, but they are at least worth looking into for next year.
Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm of the North American Mission Board, is a great place for churches, ministries and individuals to start when looking for ways to meet needs and change lives during the holiday season.
From backpack projects to school supplies giveaways, sendrelif.org has a wide variety of ministry guides that provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to execute tangible ministry opportunities that match your community’s needs.
There is also a exciting opportunity just after the holiday season when Send Relief is participating in the MLK National Day of Service on January 20. You can participate in service events at one of the Send Relief ministry centers, or you can do a project through your own church and Send Relief can help. Visit this site to sign up and get more information.
Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree
Angel Tree is a ministry arm of Prison Fellowship Ministry. When you sign up, your church will be given a list of children in your community who have at least one parent who is incarcerated. Sometimes, you’ll receive children’s names that have both parents incarcerated and are being raised by grandparents, aunts and uncles, or even close family friends. Through Angel Tree, you provide gifts for children who, in many cases, wouldn’t receive anything at all.
We host an Angel Tree party on a Sunday evening. During our party, we’ll have finger foods, sing a couple of Christmas carols, then let the kids open their presents. I close the evening by reading the Christmas story from the Jesus Storybook Bible and sharing the gospel. We also invite all the families to our Christmas Eve service.
You can find out more about Angel Tree atprisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree/. It’s very likely that Angel Tree still has names available for your community.
Christmas food baskets
This is a simple way to let folks know that your church cares about them. You don’t have to do dozens of baskets, but perhaps your church could take a family or two and provide a meal for them during the Christmas break. You can visit with teachers in your congregation who may be aware of students and their families in their classes who could use that blessing. You also could visit with nonprofits that work among poor or troubled youth and see if they have any families who could use some help during the holiday season. This allows you to connect with families who are truly in need and share that 1) your church loves them and 2) most importantly, Jesus loves them!
Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoeboxes
This one has already passed for this year, but you can begin making plans to take part in OCC next year. We have an outside donor who provides the materials for us to pack an incredible number of shoeboxes, well beyond what we would be capable of on our own. So we use this as a missions opportunity that also allows us to connect with some folks in our community. We’ve partnered with a local Christian school in years past for the packing party, and we even had a local girls’ softball team join us this year.
Participating in OCC can help your church get a global view of missions. And you’re not just providing gifts in shoeboxes. Everywhere the shoeboxes are delivered, there also is a gospel presentation given. On OCC’s website, you can see videos of people whose lives were changed and who Jesus saved through OCC!
You can find out more about Operation Christmas Child at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.,