Lessons in Mission…The Gift of Christmas
In today’s blog we’re thinking about Christmas and how it applies within the context of Missional Communities.
It’s a gift to the church because it’s a time to celebrate and to worship the King who became a man and look forward to the hope of heaven which awaits us in eternity when He will reign and all will be well again.
It’s a gift to individuals and families as it gives us a time to be together, to take time off, to finish the year well and spend quality time having fun and to say thank you to each other with hospitality and presents.
And it’s a gift to communities engaged in mission – because the message of Christmas contains great story that is bursting to be told again today.
I’m part of the Saint Aidan’s Missional Community living in north Coventry in the UK and I’m going to share a few ideas of how we’re choosing to connect what we’re about with the season of Christmas this year.
First up, and we’re doing something a bit different for our prayer rhythms as a community this advent in the run up to Christmas. We’re following 24-7 Prayer’s Advent podcasts which each week day give you a 5 minute video looking at God’s encounters with us throughout the biblical narrative. This is a great starting point to get your core community thinking about the Christmas story and the themes of hope and redemption, and hopefully help you carve out time each day to encounter God in this busy time of year. If you have connections on social media, why not post or tweet about each day and start some conversations with your people of peace – or encourage them to join in? All our team have an advent calendar to remind them to stop and pause each day to know that God invites us to encounter him.
Next up, we’re going to be hosting a Christmas Mulled Wine Party at our house for all the people we’ve met and connected to over the past few months – this is about trying to create the extended social space that is key to allowing new people to join your community in a non-threatening way. We’ll host it in our house, provide the drinks and ask neighbours, friends and contacts to come and bring something to share. Think about the environment – what music could you play, and what sort of mix of churchy/non-churchy people would allow people to mix and chat?
Finally, we’ve just started up a Kidz Klub in the estate and on the Sunday before Christmas we’re joining with the local parish church to host a Family Nativity event based on re-telling the Christmas story through drama, music and food (of course!). We hope that the kids will bring their families and get to hear a message of hope (big on invitation) and offer some further opportunities to connect (gentle challenge) in the New Year. If you’re a smaller missional community that is very loosely connected with a more gathered expression of church, be it your local parish congregation or a large resourcing centre, it can be helpful to think about how you could connect with a larger expression of gathered worship. Invite your friends and contacts along who may well appreciate something and respond to the presence of God in a more structured event– be it a nativity, a Carol or Christingle service, or a Christmas Eve service around the crib. If you’re a missional community at the early stages of working out how to meet new people of peace, look out for newcomers at Christmas services and make sure they’re given a great welcome.
After the event (if it’s a big one) why don’t you suggest that you go out for a gingerbread latte, mince pie or a glass of mulled wine and chat about what people experienced?
Christmas is a great time to get creative in lots of ways – and thinking creatively and missionally as you lead your community through this season can be lots of fun. It can allow you to celebrate together, reconnect with contacts that you’ve not seen for a while, and for more dispersed communities that maybe are still on the journey of becoming ‘church’ can look to the everlasting reality that is proclaimed at Christmas time in churches – that God is forever present with us and that he invites us to come and encounter him.
Gareth Irvine, together with his wife Jenny and baby daughter have just planted a new missional community base called Saint Aidan’s in the north of the city of Coventry. They took a small team of young adults with them, to live as an incarnational community focused around prayer and mission. They’re currently involved in Kidz Klub which works with children from challenging housing estates, and visit about 30 families each week on the estate where they live.