Nov 24, 2015


By Katrina Goodrich

With the holidays just around the corner, Christians are provided an excellent opportunity to carry out the great commission. We go caroling, put on Christmas pageants, set up nativity scenes, have soup/turkey suppers, make cards for shut-ins and those in the hospital, and provide for the less fortunate through clothing and food drives. During the holiday season we are more focused and inspired than any other time of the year to spread the good news — and people tend to seem a little more receptive.

We are accomplished at focusing outwardly and doing little evangelism activities during Christmas to draw people in from the community. But what about those who decide to attend a service? People from all walks of life will be completing their due diligence by attending church once a year. Out of family obligation or misguided belief that as long as they darken the door of a church over the holidays, they’re good with God and He’s good with them. Sometimes people enter seeking, because without a loving Savior at your side the holidays can be daunting and empty. Whatever the reason, churches will make contact with many who may never be seen again or who only show up every so often to carry on a façade. Most of the difficult part is done — I mean the person has already crossed the threshold of the building so what’s the big deal? Since it’s Christmas, the church looks pretty and there will be a good sermon paired with some special Christmas-y things going on. Is it really possible that we’re wasting this opportunity when the church looks attractive and full? The whole ministry part of it should be covered with the advent readings, sermon, Jesus music and Bible passages.

Welcome words around an open door to illustrate concepts like invitation, greetings, enjoyment, guest, service, friendliness and joining

If it’s all covered, why do those holiday patrons only come to service once a year? The love of Christ is infectious — never more so than at this time of year when peace and goodwill is foremost in people’s minds. So why is it that when people come through our doors they only want to stay for an hour once a year?

I don’t know if there is an easy answer for this or if there is one at all. Everyone is different. There is no one thing that can act as a big Band-Aid and magically make everyone who walks through the doors of a church want to come back and beinterested in Jesus. Despite that, I wonder if we aren’t hurting our chances. Isn’t there something we could be doing differently?

Are the people walking through the doors of our church receiving more Christmas than they could at a department store? I work for a retail chain and let me tell you we “do” Christmas very well! The decorations are stellar; the music is beautiful; the very feel of warmth, family and love is in the air. The one thing typically missing from the store experience is Jesus. Church is the one place where encountering Jesus should be an inescapable reality. We aren’t talking nativity baby Jesus here, but the living God, Lord of the universe Jesus who humbled Himself, containing Himself into a human body and sacrificing Himself on the cross for you.

Is it impossible to ignore the living Jesus in your church? Would it be possible for someone to walk in, sit for an hour, and walk out — missing Jesus despite the presence that is so obvious to us? Try approaching your church as an outsider. Do the things that seem so obvious actually stand out or do they just fade into the background? Would a newcomer or “rare-comer” even notice Jesus? Would he be enveloped by Him? Church is just another department store without Jesus — albeit one having a holiday party.

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