...but it's Thanksgiving in the States.
Yes, we here in Canada have had Christmas on our minds since the day after Halloween. Our Thanksgiving is in October so the idea of being thankful has long since past and we're on to full blown consumerism.
At Grace we've been in the planning stages, for several weeks now, for our Community Christmas Eve service. We have opted this year to cancel the Sunday service on Christmas day and do a service/concert on the evening of the 24th.
We are going through a bit of a paradigm shift this year in regard to our activities at Christmas time. Traditionally, we have always backed our schedule down at this time of year and allowed our church family the time and space they need to pursue their corporate and family holiday functions. After some serious reflection, we took note that in our secular culture, we have two free opportunities to shout "Jesus" from the rooftops without fear of offending our neighbors - Christmas and Easter. For the last seven years we have failed to completely capitalize on those opportunities but this is the year that will end.
We are pulling out the stops for a Christmas Eve service that will be exciting, relevant, entertaining and totally non-threatening to people who do not attend church regularly. Our hope is that we can begin to connect with people in our community who want to have some sort of religious experience on the "Jesus Holidays." So what if they only come out twice a year! I heard Bill Hybels tell a story once of a neighbor of his who attended Christmas and Easter at Willow Creek for something like 5 or 7 years before he placed his faith in Jesus and started his life journey with God.
As we plan for this Christmas Eve service, I've got all my unchurched friends in mind with the songs, arrangements, readings and video clips. Our kids' programmes and First Impressions ministries are already in the planning stages too for how they will use this exciting opportunity to love a whole lotta people we've never had the chance to love before. And the best part about it all, is that for all those friends and neighbors we've always wanted to invite to church...HERE'S OUR CHANCE! We can invite them to a church service that they are likely to be somewhat interested in and it's not even a Sunday morning.
What is your church doing to love people over the Christmas season?