There is only one time of year when malls broadcast the gospel. All sorts of shops do it, actually. Whether they sell coffee or cars, stores play carols at Christmas time, and woven into these carols is the central message of Christianity:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Imagine hundreds of people listening to those lyrics while they wait in line for Auntie Anne’s pretzels. Amazing! Christmas is a time unlike any other. While statistics show a decline in interest regarding Christian holidays such as Easter and Lent, Christmas is the lone exception to the rule. Our society loves Christmas more than ever. We could bemoan the fact that they love it for the wrong reasons, or we could help them celebrate it for the right ones. In the words of Carey Nieuwhof, “You can see the obstacle. Or you can see the opportunity.”
While Paul was in prison, he wrote a letter to the church in Colossae asking them to pray that God would open a door for him to share the gospel. In the very next breath, he urges, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). Christmas is a massive opportunity to reach people with the hope of Christ, and we would be wise to make the most of it.
To this end, Grace is taking a fresh approach to Christmas this year. Typically, churches consider Christmas to be an insider’s service, focusing on family and gathering. Those elements are important, but we don’t want to stop there. As a leadership team we are planning a uniquely evangelistic Christmas Eve service. Our prayer is that as the whole church gathers, we would put our best foot forward and leverage the season for a gospel harvest.
As always, you are an integral part of the mission. Despite social media and modern marketing, a personal invitation from a friend remains the most effective means of reaching people. LifeWay Research found that 82% of people would visit church if a trusted friend invited them. Sadly, the same survey revealed that in a typical year, 2% of Christians invite a friend to church.
Personally, I don’t believe that statistic applies to Grace. Since joining the team in 2018, I have been blown away by how readily our church body engages the world for the cause of Christ. At a time when church attendance is declining more rapidly than ever, we have seen a staggering 40% increase among our campuses. It’s not because our facilities are so awesome. It’s not because Pastor Mike’s beard is so manly or Pastor Grant’s jeans are so skinny.
It’s because you are on mission.
You invited your friends to Fall Kick-Off. You shared the gospel with twenty-five kindergarteners who may or may not have been listening. You started a Grace Community in your neighborhood. You cooked dinner for a foster mom, woke up at 5am to hang pipe and drape, and gave up your Saturday night to greet people walking through the doors of Grace for the very first time. You are the church, and I am the church, and together—in Christ—we are powerful.
This Advent season, as you continue loving and serving others, I know there will be hard days. I know there will be tiring moments when you can’t see the fruit of your labor. I have moments like that, too. Galatians 6:9 issues an incredible promise that continues to encourage and sustain me: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” This Christmas, don’t give up. Don’t give up on the family member who seems like a “lost cause.” Don’t give up believing God can do the impossible. Don’t give up expecting the unexpected.
Don’t give up because the harvest is coming.