By Reid Smith
The holidays present a great opportunity for believers to step out together in sharing their faith. This time of year is busy for many people so the temptation is to press pause on meeting together and not resume until well after the holidays are over. However, with a little advanced planning, you can help your group members take steps to grow in their personal evangelism and show lost ones the way home. You can encourage your group members to share their faith over the holidays by taking these steps:
- Challenge and pray. Start out by saying something like: “Hey everyone, what do you think about reaching out, as a group, sometime over the next month? I think it would be great for us to talk about ways we could show God’s love to people beyond our group this Christmas season. What do you think?” Then pray and ask for God’s wisdom and direction in your brainstorming.
- Share a story of how the Lord impacted you through personal evangelism. Be candid while telling a story about how you shared your faith and what God did in your life as a result. Were you nervous or did you have doubts? What did the Lord do in your life as a result?
- Talk about who, specifically, you want to impact with God’s love and pick a date. Think of a group of people who share something in common that you can reach out to in person. Questions that might help:
- Who do you sense God placing on your heart while praying?
What groups of people would be most encouraged by a visit or help? (Hospital patients, prisoners, widows, single parents, senior care facilities, homeless people, etc.)
- How can we express God’s love in personal and tangible ways?
- What is realistic for us to do? (Consider the people in your group, schedules, etc.)
- What date can we mark on our calendars now to do this?
- Take the pulse of your small group and invite each member to take a role. Get a sense of people’s level of excitement and nervousness and offer multiple opportunities for them to be involved:
- Communications (scheduling, sending info/reminders, etc.)
- Supplies (purchasing and bringing whatever is necessary)
- Transportation (arranging a way everyone can meet and travel together)
- Prayer (covering each person and the outreach in prayer—updating everyone on how God is answering prayer)
- Storyteller (take notes during the outreach and write a story of the lives impacted that you can share with your church’s leadership)
- Childcare (somebody to look after the kids during the outreach)
- Food (prepare and bring food for the outreach or coordinate a celebratory debrief back at the host home immediately following the outreach)
- Let your church’s small group ministry leadership know about it. This is good because (a) others can be covering you in prayer that your outreach will make more of an impact and (b) it encourages storytelling so people in your church can be encouraged by one another’s faith (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25).
Sometimes it helps to jump-start your small group’s brainstorming of what you’ll do together by sharing a few ideas, so here are five ways to consider:
- Visit those who are hurting or lonely! Arranging a visit to a senior care facility or hospital is easier than one might think and most places are very open to visitors. Call ahead to arrange a day. Make cards in advance or bring some to create with the patients (since they may not be able to do this themselves). Sit with them, listen, read to them, pray with them. Patients/residents are often grateful somebody would think of them and take time with them.
- Throw a Christmas Party! Have small group members invite their friends for a fun night together with your group. Play Christmas music or a movie in the background, have something creative for the kids to do together, play a game and have dinner together. God can use this mixer in natural ways to create conversations that result in your guests wanting to learn more about your small group and church. For example, you could ask guests what they did to celebrate Christmas when they were children (e.g. traditions) and what they do now.
- Free Christmas Gift Wrapping! Call a local store and speak with the store manager, letting them know you’d like to set up a table that simply has a sign saying, “Free Gift Wrapping.” Clarify that it’s a no strings attached act of kindness. You’ll find that a number of people will come by and take you up on this without probing—pray for them. Others will inquire, enabling you to share how your small group wanted to show God’s love to your community in a practical way. This will open the door to invite people to “come and see!”
- Serve your community in Jesus’ Name! Check out servantevangelism.com for ideas and identify needs in your community that touch your group’s heart where serve together, e.g. provide school supplies for underprivileged kids, food delivery, helping the homeless, etc.
- Serve your church! Your small group can actually extend the evangelistic impact of your church this Christmas simply by asking leadership where the most help is needed. Encourage your small group members to invite friends along to help out and share on social media.
Of course, any of these ideas create opportunities to invite people to Christmas services that they might be impacted by the love and message of Jesus Christ! The expected outcomes of engaging in holiday outreach is that believers will grow in their personal evangelism, groups will forge a closer bond as a result of this faith-stretching experience, and those who have yet to believe will be exposed to the life-changing message of the gospel!
Reid Smith has been equipping leaders in churches of all sizes and stages of growth for effective disciple-making since 1996. He lives in Wellington, Florida where he serves as a Groups Pastor at Christ Fellowship. You can find more of his helpful resources at www.reidsmith.org.