By Jennifer Taylor
So many churches, so many different ways to celebrate the birth of our Savior!
Each December for the last three years, My Safe Harbor (Anaheim, California)“”a nonprofit organization providing education and support for low-income single moms and their children””has coordinated a Christmas brunch for teachers at four local elementary schools. From homemade treats and decorations to music and gifts, the MSH team provides a special time of appreciation for these hard-working teachers.
Members at Anaheim First Christian Church, which helped launch My Safe Harbor, sign thank-you cards and donate money for presents (including refills for the Keurig “single-cup” coffeemakers MSH gave to each school the first year!).
Throughout the year, My Safe Harbor volunteers participate in the “Our Kids/Our Schools” program at the same four schools. Our Kids/Our Schools helps build stronger families by pairing at-risk children with caring adult mentors.
Six years ago the resurgence of interest in Celtic music, art, literature, and even “Celtic Christianity” (a monastic expression of faith that emerged in the Middle Ages) led Churchill Meadows Christian Church (Toronto, Ontario) to introduce a Celtic Christmas concert. The event features fiddlers, bagpipe music, authentic step-dancing, and other ancient elements. Popular Celtic songs and traditional Christmas carols are performed and CMCC minister Jim Tune shares a Christmas message.
Celtic Christmas has grown each year, becoming an annual favorite for members of the church and the larger community. Tune says the popularity of the event has consistently contributed to attendance growth at the church.
Restore Community Church (Kansas City, Missouri) encouraged each of its members to give one simple gift to a different person each day for 20 days. Participants in the “20 for 20 Gift Marathon” were invited to find an accountability partner for encouragement and to share their stories on a special Web site created by the church.
“Those who succeed in the giving challenge by going 20 for 20 will get a chance to give $500 to a person, cause, or charity of their choice,” says Patrick O”Connell, pastor of administration.
LifeSpring Christian Church (Cincinnati, Ohio) encourages its members to give a “birthday gift” to Jesus by sharing with the under-resourced. Members may give money to provide a goat for a village in India, a summer camp trip for an inner-city child, or Christmas gifts for a needy family in the community.
Pantano Christian Church (Tucson, Arizona) asked its members to participate in a “Season of Giving” by spending less money on store-bought gifts and using the money saved to serve others. The church provided a variety of ways to donate time and to share financially, including participating in the Angel Tree program, adopting a family and providing for their holiday needs, or giving to the Christmas Eve offering.
“We”re also holding a foster/adoption fair to help our folks consider being foster or adoptive parents, and we”ll invite all our current foster and adoptive families on stage to celebrate them,” says lead pastor Glen Elliott.
Jennifer Taylor, one of Christian Standard”s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www. christianstandard.com.
Do you know of a church breaking new ground or leading innovative ministry? Send a brief description and contact info to [email protected].