WHAT DO WE DO WITH CHRISTMAS?
What should we as a church do with the Christmas season? Who or what should be our focus? Where and how should we expend our effort and resources?
I was reading a parable by Jesus in Luke 14 this week. It’s one of my all-time favorites and has governed my ministry philosophy for years. Jesus tells a story about a wealthy man hosting a great banquet. When the “dinner hour” had arrived, the man sent his servant out to tell the many guests “everything is ready." Shockingly, one by one all of the guests began to make excuses as to why they wouldn’t be able to attend. When the servant reported this to his master, the man became very angry and gave his servant further orders. He told his servant to, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and lame.” After the servant haddone this he reported back “still there is room." His master now gave him new instructions to, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”
Jesus is, of course, the master in the story. The banquet is Heaven. Those that made excuses are the ones who have clearly heard the gospel, but rejected it in favor of other things and interests. The rest, among the streets, alleys, towns, roads and country lanes, are those yet to be reached. The servant…is you.
This Christmas season our streets, towns and neighborhoods are filled with people that still don’t even know they are invited to "the great banquet." They’ve never clearly heard the gospel. They are not saved. At this hour, they are not on their way to Heaven. My favorite word in that entire parable is "compel." The master told the servant to "compel them to come in." Compel means to plead with, convince, pull, urge. It is in no way passive; rather, it is active and pursuant. We take the Lord at His word and believe the gospel is urgent and His orders immediate. What is Christmas about for us? It’s about us working to COMPEL them to come in.
I want to invite you to join me over the next 11 days in putting the pedal to the floor to compel people.
HOW CAN I DO THIS?
1. PRAY! For goodness sake, feel the burden of lost family and friends that so desperately need Jesus to save their souls and pray to God for them. During the Christmas Eve gatherings, there will be lost people in the crowd. Be praying for the Holy Spirit to powerfully speak to them. Pray against anything that might distract them. Pray during the worship that their heart would start to soften. Pray for all those serving. Pray for me. Pray that God would give me the strength, the words, and His mighty power.
2. INVITE! The Rock has thousands of business card size invites tailored for Christmas Eve. Have you put a stack in your wallet or purse and handed them out wherever you do life everyday? Give one to that coworker and tell them they better be there on Christmas Eve because you’re saving them a seat.
3. SERVE! It takes an army of committed people that “get it” to make 2 large Christmas Eve Gatherings happen. There are fantastic opportunities to welcome & serve the visitor. Some examples where you can be an active part are:
- Parking Lot Team – The 1st place we meet every guest. Say hello, shake hands, offer to help carry something for that single mom or elderly guest.
- Hospitality Team – The 1st people a guest sees & meets inside the building. You help point them in the right direction for childcare, restrooms, the gym, etc.
- Usher Team – These awesome people help guests and their families find seats so the visitor doesn’t have to feel the stress of standing at the back and looking around wondering, “Should I dare ask any of these people to move over 2 seats?” (By the way...if you happen to already be seated and notice this, hop up and SCOOT OVER!)
- Post Service Prayer/Hospitality Area – This team will meet people that have just confessed Jesus and are looking for further prayer, a 101 booklet, or just answers to general questions. This will be a specific place in the lobby that new believers and searching guests will be directed to.
- Nursery/Pre-school – Listen, I love and am understanding of small children. My house is full of them. However, if our focus is the lost person’s heart that brought their little children on Christmas Eve, we want them to be able to focus on hearing the gospel. If they have to wrestle a 10 month old baby for an hour, they will likely be distracted. Let’s have an awesome team of joy-filled people that are ready to take great care of their babies, while they hear the truth. With the 2 Christmas Eve gathering times, perhaps you or your family might consider serving at one and attending one? Lunch will be provided for all those that are committing to be there in some capacity through both gatherings.
- Volunteer appreciation area – For the many people serving throughout the day, we will have a special area for you to go during some of the “down time” as well as during the 2 hours between gatherings. There are even ways for people to "serve the servants." If you’d like to know how you can make this volunteer appreciation area awesome, contact us ASAP
4. ENGAGE! You might be sitting right next to a total stranger on Christmas Eve that stands to confess Jesus. Be bold and loving enough to introduce yourself and congratulate them. Don’t just sit there in iced-over silence once they sit back down. You totally saw them stand up. You are pumped beyond description that they’ve been saved by the blood of Jesus. So tell them! If the angels in Heaven are celebrating, why wouldn’t we? Tell them, “This is so awesome! Congratulations! Listen, if it’s ok I’d like to make sure you get a green 101 booklet before you leave today and inside I’ll write down my email if you ever have any questions or need to talk to someone.” People want to know what to do with that incredible moment of meeting the Savior. Help them through it. Don’t overthink it, just step up and make a connection with them; you’ll be glad you did.
Are you ready? Let’s go compel them!