Christmas is not just Christmas any more. And I don’t mean that we need more “Keep Christ in Christmas” signs, shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and various paraphernalia. Instead, we need to see our mission field for what it is and meet it as the leaders God calls us to be.
1. Acknowledge. Recognize that the culture in which you live is not Christian. It might be pseudo-Christian. It may have the polish and veneer of being Christianly during December. But it is a secular culture.
2. Be bold through prayer. Paul and the other early leaders of the church did nothing but face a culture set against Christianity. In Ephesians 6:19, he wrote, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (HCSB). Ask the church to pray for you as you preach and lead that you will do so with boldness for the gospel. Encourage them in your public prayers that you are interceding for their boldness for speaking the gospel. Before you just jump into the public square, pray for the Spirit’s power to do so.
3. Celebrate. The world fools itself into knowing how to celebrate. Lights, movies, parties, sports, food, and drink all serve as poor substitutes for true celebration. They revolve around the temporary. Lead your church to an audacious celebration of Jesus. Worship Him in spirit and in truth for the whole world to see.
4. Speak truthfully. The world’s favorite Bible verse is Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (HCSB). It is the one biblical idea that the world will quote toward the church to justify its living. We should counter, but not with a single verse. We need to speak the truth of the whole gospel to the whole world so people can be made whole again. Tell the story of God’s great love that finds its pinnacle in Jesus’ incarnation. Tell the truth. Share the faith. Evangelize the lost. Make unbelievers into disciples.
5. Show radical generosity. We will see red kettles, receive mail from homeless shelters, and be bombarded with nonstop pleas for us to give our money to various charities during December. The secularized culture will give and then get their tax deductions. Many people will mean it. They will give because they are striving to be good and do good. We should guide the church to show what radical generosity is and can do. Reflecting the indescribable gift we have in salvation, move people beyond check-writing. Help them to empty out their lives out for the sake of others. The church’s generosity should be a radical showcase of God’s grace.
6. Invest in relationships. Others are busy trying to avoid difficult relatives. Some are thinking how they can just survive the next office party with people they don’t like. We need to invite people into our churches and invest in their spiritual well-being. Lead believers to use holiday events for the sake of gaining friends. The parties, musicals, cantatas, parades, and all the like are a part of our cultural landscape. But they are not the point. Be a teacher and model to the church on how to invest more deeply in relationships during holidays.
7. Be natural. Too many evangelize or just talk about their church like it is an awkward subject. Guess what? To unbelievers, it is. But we should speak about Christ, the virgin birth, the reason for the incarnation, salvation, and worship like they are natural. Why? Because for the believer, it is normal. Take time to help believers understand how to speak about our faith like it is the most natural subject matter in life.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the character Father Christmas said,
“Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.”
The children’s tale hands us a powerful truth. We can see the spiritual winter come to an end for many if we will introduce them to the Savior. The stage is set for us to mobilize. The culture and your community are open to spiritual conversations and experiences. Let us lead our churches to share the gospel, live out its effects, and turn the lost toward the Savior.