Why is it so easy for the holidays to become consumer-driven, busy, and stressful? Let’s be honest: sometimes the real message of Christmas gets lost in wads of over-abundant wrapping paper, drowned out by cries of over-tired kids, or crowded out by schedules of over-committed parents. What if we could proactively work against some of these negative forces and do Christmas differently? Let’s turn back the tides of consumerism this year! Here are some ideas (in no particular order) to re-center ourselves on Jesus and His mission during the holidays.
Missional Christmas Ideas
- Instead of asking for a gift this year, ask people to help you raise funds:
- To take a short-term mission trip in 2021
- To bless a missionary with a Christmas care package or end-of-year surprise donation
- To contribute to a project a missionary is doing or a special need they have
- To help bring aid to those in need (example: https://www.sendrelief.org/projects/syrian-refugee-crisis)
- Pay for someone you love (or yourself?) to get or renew a passport, so they’ll be ready to take a short-term mission trip when global travel reopens. Here’s a page with more information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/where-to-apply.html
- Why not give a gift to your church so they can start a mission trip scholarship fund for youth or first-time participants? Wouldn’t that be amazing?
- Before you do your online shopping, setup Amazon Smile to donate a portion of your purchases to your church, a mission organization, or a favorite local charity. Go to smile.amazon.com to get started. (PS, Amazon donates only a tiny percentage. This shouldn’t take the place of your generous giving.)
- Read a missionary story during the month of December. There are many good biographies and storybooks out there! The Insanity of God is a great one to stir your faith: https://www.amazon.com/Insanity-God-Story-Faith-Resurrected/dp/1433673088/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=the+insanity+of+God&qid=1604523264&sr=8-3
- Take your younger kids through one of Weave’s great activity books (https://weavefamily.org/big-story-series/) or use Window on the World as a prayer resource for your family for the upcoming year (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0830857834/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_tgWOFb3QQKWAH?_x_encoding=UTF8&psc=1)
- If you’re saving for a big vacation, why not tack on a few days to that vacation to help a missionary or ministry? Many missionaries live in fascinating places! Consider choosing your vacation location based on where you could add value to mission work.
- Instead of exchanging traditional presents, agree ahead of time to pool your gift money to make a big missional impact. If your church is doing an end-of-year missions campaign, consider giving to it. Set a goal and challenge yourself to more generosity!
- Take a course on world missions! There are some great courses online, such as through IMB (https://imb.pathwright.com/library/), Global Frontier Missions (https://missionarytrainingschool.com/free-course/), and Perspectives (https://www.perspectives.org/). Hint: these classes are better when done with a group, so grab some friends and make this into a New Year’s challenge!
- Invite a local immigrant or refugee family to experience a fun holiday tradition with you. Build relationships. Be a good friend. Share the love of Jesus.
- Download WhatsApp or Signal so you can more easily text or video chat with missionaries overseas. (Contact your church to get their numbers, and of course be careful what you say so as not to compromise security.) Missionaries often feel left out, especially at the holidays. Don’t let this happen. You’d be surprised how good it can feel to receive a text.
- Find a local ministry where you can serve over the holidays, then sign up.
- If you’re crafty, create and sell some gift items then donate the proceeds to a mission cause.
- Start the process to become a foster or respite care family so forgotten children can have a home on Christmas – and maybe even forever! Take your first step here: http://hopetreefostercare.org/
- Host a movie night – about the mission of God! Watching what God is doing around the world has a way of stirring your own passion for Him here. Some great films to watch are Free Burma Rangers (https://www.amazon.com/Free-Burma-Rangers-David-Eubank/dp/B0876L6SPK) or Dispatches from the Front (https://www.dispatchesfromthefront.org/)
- Don’t just stick to turkey and stuffing – pick some interesting recipes from other cultures, too. Make and enjoy those foods, then pray for the people of those cultures to know Jesus. Let God spark your curiosity about what He’s doing around the world.
- Pray! Ask God to guard your heart during the holidays. Ask Him to open your eyes to ways you can join His work around the world. Pray for those you know who are not yet believers. Pray for God to give you boldness to share the gospel.
- Challenge yourself to verbally share the gospel in the month of December and ask someone to hold you accountable to do it. It’s a fact: people are often more open to hearing about Jesus during Christmas. So share about Him!
These are just ideas on a paper. But the best ideas are ones you’ll actually follow through on. How is God calling you to leverage your Christmas holiday for His kingdom?