While there are many things we might legitimately dislike about the holiday season—such as added stress, endless consumerism, and (painfully) repetitive Christmas songs—there is one thing that makes it all worthwhile. The Christmas season provides countless opportunities to connect with non-believers in genuine ways for redemptive purposes.
Here are 10 examples of how we can connect with our non-believing friends and family during the holiday season—
1. Encourage your kids to invite someone to their Christmas program.
If you have children (or if you are able to influence kids in your life), this is a way to involve them. Sometimes unbelieving family or friends are more likely to respond to a child’s invitation—or to attend a child’s program—than they are to simply “go to church.” Consider going out for dessert and conversation afterward.
2. Host a Christmas party.
Invite friends—believers and unbelievers—to your home for a meal. Don’t put pressure on yourself (or your guests) for Gospel conversations to happen. Just celebrate Christmas and ask God to lead.
3. Take treats to the neighbors.
If you want to connect with people in your life (such as your neighbors, the mailman, or the kids’ school bus driver), deliver a plate of treats and include a handwritten note.
4. Invite someone to your church’s Christmas (or Christmas Eve) service.
Inviting an unbeliever to attend a church service may not seem creative, but in an era where people can be easily offended, Christians often hesitate to invite people to church. The good news: Even non-religious people understand that the Christmas season is about the Christmas story, and many—who would otherwise not step foot in church—appreciate the opportunity to go to a service during the Christmas season.
5. Look for hurting people.
The holidays can be especially difficult for someone who has recently been through something hard, such as the death of a family member, loss of a job, or end of a relationship. Which of your friends or family members may struggle through this holiday season? Reaching out to them with a note or a phone call could naturally lead to opportunities to discuss the love of Christ (either now or in the future). And, at the very least, you have the opportunity to show God’s love—which is just as important.
6. Create a community Christmas event.
This may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Work with a group or your church family to create an event—large or small—specifically for the community. Consider hosting it in a place other than your church building if you think it would deter people from coming. Host a Christmas party, coffee drop-in, carol sing, or girls night out. People love holiday-themed events.
7. Leverage social media.
You may have somebody in your contacts who would respond well to an invitation to go to church or to celebrate Christmas with you. Instead of assuming you know who would or wouldn’t want to be invited to an event, make the invite open to all. Post your church’s events on social media and make a standing invitation to everyone on your list.
8. Plan a low-key Christmas concert.
Take Christmas music (and optional treats) to a nursing home or hospital. If not a concert, consider caroling room to room. What a gift for people who can’t celebrate the season like they might prefer.
9. Reach children in need.
Most communities host opportunities to provide gifts for kids in need, but why not take this a step further? Reach out to local foster care agencies and ask for specific ways you can meet needs. Consider hosting an event for children or taking gifts to families who can’t afford them. And then show them dignity by building relationships and not just making donations.
10. Be a friend.
Though simple, this is the best strategy on the list. Nobody wants to feel like a project, but everybody wants to have a friend. Be a genuine friend, and conversations will naturally happen that lead to Gospel opportunities.
If you choose to do one or more of these ideas and you don’t get the results you hoped for, don’t be discouraged. Each of these ideas could easily be seeds that you plant that will grow into opportunities later. God never calls us to save anybody, but He does want us to love and care.
By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).