Christmas and pre-evangelism
As Christians, one of the priorities that God has tasked us with is sharing the gospel: to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). It is by no means an easy thing. We live in a world that opposes Christ. Consequently, inviting a non-Christian friend, family member, or co-worker to attend a church service can often be an intimidating and uncomfortable prospect.
Christmas is often a peak opportunity for churches to share the gospel, with many relying on large open-invite carols nights to engage with their community.
Livestreaming and Christmas party “micro-carols”
However, the traditional carols night has been heavily impacted by NSW’s COVID regulations. Currently, the limit of outdoor gatherings is 20 people; we must maintain social distancing and are prohibited from singing along. For St John’s, Ashfield, the outdoor gathering limit was the catalyst for devising an alternative carols event.
“Normally each year we’d host an outdoor ‘carols by candlelight’, and we’d have anywhere between 200 and 400 attending,” rector the Rev Andrew Katay explains. “Once we were down to 20, it became a non-starter.”
Instead, Ashfield plans to run a livestream carols event that congregation members can tune into from their homes, alongside others they’ve invited. “The hope is that all of our congregation members will create micro-carols in their homes [where] they can invite people over, have a meal together, and tune into the livestream,” Mr Katay says.
“COVID has opened the community up a fraction more to spiritual things, and it has forced innovation upon us [churches]. So don’t be afraid to take up the challenge.”
St James’, Turramurra is also considering a livestream and micro-carols combination. “We’re thinking of doing…a non-linear service [with] a cycle of various hosts,” assistant minister the Rev Luke Woodhouse says. The hope is to create a mix of live and pre recorded content. For example, prerecorded carols and messages from ministry staff, live kids’ games and live fundraising updates through Facebook.
However, Mr Woodhouse also wanted to stress that the plan isn’t concrete: “It's all conceptual at this stage”.
Much like Ashfield, the ministry team at Turramurra plan to encourage church members to “build community spirit” by hosting small Christmas parties or a micro-carols on the night of the livestream and inviting others to celebrate the birth of Christ.
So, carols pre-evangelism can still happen this year - it just might be over a barbie at your place. And that’s not a bad way to love our non-believing friends and family at Christmas time.
“People need hope”
This has been a year of uncertainty, even bleakness for some, and hope is needed. We want to be out there with our message of love and hope at Christmas, but perhaps in a slightly different way.
As Mr Woodhouse puts it: “This year, people need hope. We have the hope of the gospel, but it doesn’t have to be delivered through a big service. Don’t feel burdened to do a formal Christmas… God is bigger than our events”.
Header photo from 2018 Glenmore Park Christmas Service