One of the foundational principles of Christianity is that the faith’s followers must spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Some believers who can afford to do so go on extensive mission trips to other continents, hoping to connect with people who might not otherwise hear about Christianity. However, others feel that it’s just as effective to minister to people who are closer to home – especially during the holiday season.
Giving People Fellowship and Food on Thanksgiving
Many churches realize they can benefit their communities by offering free Thanksgiving dinners in their facilities. Thanksgiving is typically a time when people come together over heaping plates of food and engage in conversations about what they’re grateful for this year. But, that kind of celebration isn’t always feasible if people are elderly and unable to plan trips to visit relatives, estranged from their families or dealing with other circumstances that cause them to be alone on Thanksgiving.
It’s also important to realize that many people may not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving due to homelessness. Churches around the country are aware of the roles they can play in giving people freshly cooked meals and all-important fellowship on Thanksgiving. If some of the attendees are looking for places to worship, the generous actions of those churches may be partially responsible for increasing the size of the congregations.
That’s why it’s a good idea to have church members eating with the attendees. They can make themselves open to conversations and ready to answer any questions that arise.
Opportunities to Bless People in Simple Ways
Christmas may encourage people to go to church even if they don’t regularly attend services. With that in mind, churches may use advertising methods like social media posts and outdoor signs to appeal to non-believers around the holidays. During those religious events, a warm smile and an offer of a homemade Christmas cookie could remind people that they are welcome even if they are not church members.
Some religious establishments also host holiday choir concerts and retellings of the nativity story for people to enjoy. With those kinds of events, the goal is to emphasize that Christianity is accessible to everyone who wants to participate in it.
When churches are near busy squares, shopping areas, or other places that are heavily trafficked near the holidays, congregations may dole out free servings of soup or hot cocoa to encourage people to take a few minutes out of their hectic schedules and simply relax. The results of that approach could be significant.
It’s common for people to feel overwhelmed during the holidays, whether due to money troubles, family issues, or other challenges. If individuals see that church members are in public areas and ready to lend a listening ear, they may feel comfortable enough to confide about what they’re facing, then feel better as a result.
These examples demonstrate that it’s not necessary for churches to spend significant amounts of money or come up with complex ways to get people’s attention. They only need to follow the example of Jesus Christ, a historical figure who had a reputation for interacting with the outcasts of society, even when it caused societal shunning.
Churches Must Not Forget About Their Members
It’s not surprising that the initial inclination churches have is to get in contact with people who are not attending their services during the holidays. Community outreach is indeed important, but it’s also crucial for church leaders to assess their congregations to find the people who are in need of extra attention.
That may mean offering childcare for frazzled parents who need a few hours to themselves or offering a service where people can get assistance with clearing their driveways after heavy snowfalls. In any case, members of churches must remember that people may feel too proud to admit they are feeling worn down by the hustle and bustle of the season and they may not come forward for support without encouragement.
So, church members could post signs around the building, mention new offerings on social media, and make sure to discuss them in the organization’s newsletter. Then, once people know what exists, they can feel empowered to come forward on their own and do so in private ways that make them feel at ease.
The Way International is an international Christian organization with events all over the world. They highlight many of them in online photo albums. A consistent feature of all of them – regardless of location – is that people are gathered together in communities of faith.
The holiday season is a joyful time for some, but it’s also a span of months where other people feel as if the usual stresses of life are more prominent than ever, and that they are all alone when trying to tackle them. Christian churches know they can spread the love of Christ during the holidays and aim to do that in various ways. If the trend continues, people of all religious backgrounds or none should feel more included and loved.