It can be a real challenge to share the good news of Jesus.
In a world where the name "Jesus" leads people to have a lot of pre-conceptions and the idea of "church" has a lot of baggage, we can feel as though talking about Jesus can put walls up between us and others. Walls we don't want to be there.
As we head into the Advent season, with carols playing and manger scenes abounding, let me suggest a few ways that you might share about Jesus in ways that are more comfortable and natural.
- Have a conversation about Christmas plans and Christmas traditions. Ask your friends, co-workers, family members about what they are doing through the Christmas season. Listen well to them. Ask them clarifying questions. Discover what is important to them. If they ask you the same question in return, you have an open door to talk about Christmas as a time for you to focus on God coming into the mess of this world in the person of Jesus. It's a chance to emphasize your own need of his presence in the midst of your messes. It's a chance to talk about the priority of being a part of our Church family Advent gatherings (if that is a priority for you).
- Spend time investing in something special this Christmas and, when people ask you about what's going on this Christmas, explain it and why you are doing it. We will soon have the gifts tags available for you to be able to go and purchase gifts for children who are a part of the Beausoleil First Nation who otherwise would not receive gifts. Shop on a weekend and when someone asks you what you did on the weekend, tell them and explain that as we celebrate the gift of Jesus we want to find ways to show and share his love to others. Volunteer to stand by a Salvation Army kettle (phone: 705-526-5683). Collect food for a food bank in your neighbourhood. There is always a way to serve, but there are even more during the Christmas season!
- Invite others to join you in your Advent & Christmas celebrations. The other day (on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) I heard about someone who had a man show up at their door unexpectedly on Thanksgiving because a GPS led him to the wrong place. They invited him in to enjoy dinner with them. They enjoyed his company so much, he's been invited back every year. I thought that was a great story of a) hospitality, and b) ongoing generosity. Who could you invite to share celebrations with you this season?
- Invite others to join you for Advent & Christmas Eve at Covenant. This is a time of year when people begin to think about church and think about Jesus. But many don't know what to do with their piqued curiosity about spiritual things. If they have never attended church in the past, stepping into a church could feel like being dropped onto an alien planet. If they have attended church in the past, there is a possibility they have faced negative experiences or even trauma that they'd need to overcome. An invitation to attend with you might be exactly what is needed to help them come. Here are some suggestions for how to invite someone.
- Tell them, "I would love it if you would come to church with me." Then ask them if they will. Asking, "Do you want to come to church with me?" doesn't communicate your heart and desire. Let them know that it would be significant to you if they came. And be gracious and understanding if they decline.
- Explain why Advent is a significant time for them to come. Tell them that it is a time we focus on the gift of Jesus - God coming into the mess of the world. Tell them the themes we focus on - hope, peace, joy, and love. Invite them specifically for one of our Christmas Eve services.
- Explain briefly what a church gathering is like. Let them know that the singing can be odd at first. Give them a heads up about the offering and let them know there is no obligation to participate. Tell them about the guy standing up to speak about the theme for the day.
- Offer to meet them outside and actually come in with them and be present with them when they come so they won't feel alone.
- If you invite someone and they come . . . follow up with them! You could make plans for coffee or lunch with them right after the gathering. Ask them if they have any questions about what happened or about anything that was said. Let them know you really appreciated them coming and that you'd love to have them come back.
We believe that Jesus is the light of the world, come into the darkness as God with us to offer hope, peace, joy, and love to all. While it might not feel comfortable and natural to talk about Jesus in these ways, I can say from personal experience that practice helps! It gets more and more comfortable as you do it, but you have to start somewhere.
I'm praying for you and me as we seek to share the good news of Jesus with others during this Advent season.