In June and July we are hosting three evenings at St Paul’s under the title “Church – Past Present & Future.” The intention of these evenings is to explore some of the background to the nature of the church in the 21st century and how we as the church need to continue to adapt and change.

This week I’m starting to think about Christmas!.

Please put the following date in your diary and come along:
July 6th 7.30pm – Christmas!

penguin_poster

If the Christmas services and events that we hold are the best, and maybe most important, evangelistic opportunities that we have in the year, then we need to pay as much attention to before and after as we do to the content of the services.

Before And After Is As Important As The Content

I wonder in which order you would put these three words in relation to becoming a Christian:

Behave – Belong – Believe

In the Christian world that I grew up in I would suggest they went:
Believe -> Behave -> Belong
Belief came first and as a result of believing behaviour changed and as that happened you began to belong to the Christian Community.

Today I would suggest the order is very different:
Belong -> Believe -> Behave
Belonging comes first. Being welcomed into he Christian community simply as you are and becoming part of that community comes before believing. Indeed for some they may only realise they believe in hindsight, as they look back what they believe has been formed by the community they have become part of. Out of that behaviour slowly changes as the realisation of faith affects everyday life.

If this is true then the question at our Christmas services and events is how can we make it easy for those who are not yet part of our Christian community to start to belong?

How we welcome people and the environment into which we welcome them is paramount to helping people consider the Christian faith. We pray that those who come for Christmas will come back in January. They may come because of the songs we sing or the quality of the preaching. However they are far more likely to come back because they were made to feel welcome and at home, because someone who is already part of the church took time to speak to them.

The most important people at our Christmas services may well be those who are serving the refreshments after the service. Why? Because the 5-10 minutes that a visitor takes to drink a coffer or glass of mulled wine may be the opportunity for them to stop and talk to someone.

As we think about our Christmas services we need to give as much attention to planning the welcome and refreshments as we do to planning the service.

 

Things I’ve been reading: