Some of the most fun ministry outreach happens during the Christmas season! There’s so much anticipation in the cooler air, and everywhere you turn – from the market aisles to the commercials on television – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to comment below, and here are 13 Great Christmas Outreach Ideas to throw into the mix:
Jacket drive- Collect new winter jackets in all sizes and then organize a drive-through or set up a “store” in the church hall where people can pick out a jacket for their needs. The remaining jackets can easily be stored for future access. You can also reach out to local schools to determine needs and gift the children (with parental permission) an added layer of warmth this winter.
Ornament extravaganza- Complete with Christmas music in the background and all the craft supplies, make this a “must register” event so you can be adequately prepared for members and their friends. Consider your age group and provide a variety of ornaments that can be adorned with quick-drying paint, glitter, and paint pens so that ornaments are carried home. Fun, creative fellowship is the key here!
Yummy cookie decorating- Think about this event in phases. Who will bake the cookies in advance? Does your church have a large kitchen for the bakers to work together on the shared recipe? Spreading butcher block paper across the tables will make for easy cleanup. Think about each place setting as a station and what is needed. Including the number of cookies for each person to decorate. And any tools they might need, including a box for them to carry home their goodies. Don’t forget to include a sticker or stamp on the box with a Christmas message from your church. Then configure the place settings into groups of 4-6 where they can share frostings and all the toppings. Tip: if you have 4 in a group, then also have 4 frosting colors. This way no one is waiting on the next steps.
Trimming the trees and tidying yards- People may need help. Leaf blowing and gathering, cutting grass one last time, and/or edging, so homes have great curb appeal, and properly winterized yards would be such a gift! Perhaps this is how the Seniors in your church can be served and ministered to, along with those in the surrounding community. Honoring people by just offering to help them with tools is reminiscent of days gone by. Ever heard of an old-fashioned barn raising? Loving your neighbors with a little sweat equity goes a long way.
Orchestrate Christmas Caroling- In times past, this was a tradition that filled our streets once the streetlights came on. What about planning an afternoon of caroling on a Saturday or Sunday? Bring a church greeting that can be left with the household. Or while you spread Christmas cheer with a song or two.
Tonight’s on us- This is a babysitting event where parents can register to bring their children to the church so they can finish holiday shopping or attend the company party without the added expense of babysitting. Consider asking for a donation- such as a canned food drive- in exchange for the evening. Planning an evening of activities and Christmas movies for the children will make it fun and productive for everyone involved! Keep it simple and have the parents feed them before they arrive so you can provide snacks.
Hospitality is always in season- What are the essential needs for every home? Think paper goods and cleaning supplies along with food staples. Put together brown bags full of these items and a personal message from your Pastor and have these on standby all winter. Reach out to local businesses for item donations to contribute to the bags. Then let shelters and living assistance departments know about your program. The bag items can be freshened for each season.
Everyone loves a neighborhood surprise- If you’ve seen the “You’ve been boo’ed” idea, this would be similar. And it’s a Christmas community outreach idea that will help bring people to your website to keep the fun going. How? Create printable messages for congregants to easily print and attach to their “Ho ho ho, Neighbor, you are loved, you know!” (or whatever your church deems is a good saying) goodie basket. Put your church website at the bottom of the printable message, too. Then each family who wants to participate can print the messages from your site and create a couple of baskets to leave on the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbors. Ideas for the gift baskets can be holiday hand towels, candles, soap, boxed cookies, or cocoa. The warm gesture is well received.
Wrap it up This can be done in several ways. It is a great way to involve the youth and even fundraise! Decide if you want to provide wrapping paper and bows or if families should send their personal selections in with the items. Assign one gift wrapper to one person so that gifts are properly wrapped and tagged for that individual. Being highly organized is a necessity. Some people may want to make a donation for the wrapping services. So have the youth set up a jar. Add a picture of the summer camp or a winter retreat they’ll be attending. Any donations will be applied accordingly.
Once upon a time- Bring the Nativity to life outdoors for the community to attend. No tickets are necessary, and all are invited. Consider holding this with multiple cast members on board to rotate in and out over the course of a couple of evenings. The mishaps of one of the three king’s crowns tilting and eventually sliding off to the ground or the shepherd boy’s sneeze makes this production real. It’s a real story of our Savior becoming flesh as a baby. Who also wore items that were not perfectly fit and sneezed, too.
Reindeer trot- Host a 3k, or a color run for the community. What a great way to unite people at your church campus outside of Sundays. Organize food trucks and maybe even some bounce houses to help make it an event that appeals to more than just runners. And if you’re not opposed to including Santa Claus, how fun would it be to have a picture made with Santa with your church in the background?
Light it up If you have a large enough parking lot or land available. This is another great church Christmas outreach idea that could become an annual tradition growing in size each year! Create a display of Christmas lights and decorations that will bring people from all over to drive OR walk through and enjoy. Adding artificial snow blowing in the air would make it over-the-top fun! This can be as simple or as extravagant as you want. Some of your congregants’ local businesses may want to help sponsor a section of the display. This will help offset costs and equipment. In return, print a handout with the sponsors’ names to be included on the backside of the program event. Some ideas can be found here, where Rhema Bible Church has been providing this experience in Tulsa, OK, for over 40 years!
Dazzle- I mean to exude joy according to Isaiah 12:6! Make your church so inviting and warm this holiday season: have extra signage on your property, add more sparkling lights, hang wreaths on more windows and doors, keep a light on in the sanctuary to flood the streets, etc. Schedule more parking lot volunteers to direct traffic onto the property and greeters on the sidewalks to spill into the community and establish a presence. No matter which of the Christmas outreach ideas you implement, it will not matter if we are so preoccupied (in the wrappings and parties and cantatas) that we miss the personal opportunity to let our lights shine as well as in our physical church halls so that people will be drawn to our good Savior.
This is our season, Church! JOY TO THE WORLD – the Lord has come!
Donna is ACS Technologies’ Chief Customer Officer. Her focus is on strategic planning and operations of the customer experience organization. This includes Implementation, Ministry Success, Learning, Training, and Customer Service. Donna’s focus and passion have always been for our ministry partners. She has worked in the service part of the organization her entire career. Donna graduated from Lander College with a BS Degree in Computer Science. She then joined the company in 1985 as a Customer Support Representative.