The Other Christmas List

Christmas is the easiest time of the year to invite friends to come with you to church. Which makes it a great opportunity to encourage your children to invite their friends, too. We asked one parent of primary-age children how they do this in their family:

  • When you start talking about Christmas, and all the festive things you are looking forward to, talk about the chance to invite friends to church; it’s a great opportunity to share the gospel and we want our children to feel our sense of excitement about that!
  • Get your children to write two Christmas lists – the inevitable one of ideas for presents, but also one of ‘people we can invite to a carol service’. Keep it somewhere obvious so they remember who they wanted to invite, and use it to pray together regularly.
  • Find out if your school allows carol service invitations to be send home in book bags – if so, you can get an invitation into the hands of every child and their family! Our school doesn’t, so we include an invitation to a carol service inside each Christmas card our children write for their friends. They write a card to every child in the class, plus any special friends in other classes. Encourage other families from your church with children in other classes to do the same.
  • If your church produces invitations/fliers for Christmas services, carry a handful everywhere you go. Use every opportunity in the playground, park etc. to talk about Christmas and give out invitations. We try to remember to pray with our children before we leave the house, asking God to give us opportunities to invite many people.
  • As Christmas services get closer, remind your children to talk to their friends and ask who wants to come. Knowing which children are keen allows me to chat more easily to the mums in the playground: “Sally says that Susie really wants to come to a Carol Service with her. Here’s a leaflet of our church’s Christmas events – this one is especially good for primary-aged children. Would you like to come with us?”
  • Pray together daily for the people you have invited, that they will come, feel welcome, enjoy the experience, would understand and remember what they hear about Jesus, and that they would want to come back to church in the New Year.
  • Talk with your children about how to welcome friends to church. How might their friends feel if this if the first time they have been to a church? Encourage them to sit with them, explain what will happen, show them where to hang their coat etc. Prepare them to be thinking more about their friends' enjoyment than their own.
  • Afterwards, pray with your children for their guests who came. Talk about any disappointments – those who said they would come but didn’t show up; encourage your children not to give up, or become cross, but to keep praying for these friends and try again with other events in the future.

Which of these would work in your situation? What could you adapt so that it would work for you? What better ideas do you have, that you can share with other families in your church?

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