Harnessing the Holidays: Movement Makes Most of Ministry Opportunities
By Carl Stagner
The Christmas season is upon us. A quick glance at the social media of a handful of Church of God congregations suggests we are a Movement that knows how to celebrate. Certainly, the birth of Jesus gives us many reasons to celebrate, and that celebration has taken the form of decorating services (“Hanging of the Greens”), weekly Advent readings and candlelighting, choral cantatas, Christmas pageants, caroling, dinners, and much, much more. Because the gift of Jesus is meant to be shared with as many people as possible, Church of God congregations have come up with a variety of creative means to share the reason for the season. This year, churches from coast to coast are harnessing the holidays, making the most of the ministry opportunities God has set before them.
Cedar Creek Church of God in Greeneville, Tennessee, participated in the local Christmas parade in early December, representing Christ and the congregation with class and clarity. Riverside Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is preparing a children’s program for the church and community called, “One Night in Bethlehem,” a “heartwarming program filled with the true story of Christmas.” Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia, is presenting a dramatic play called “Mystery of the Missing Magi,” while Community of Hope in Maricopa, Arizona, opted to present a living nativity outdoors for all to see. Community Church of God of Clio, Michigan, is among many Church of God congregations collecting toys for local families in need, while New Antioch Church of God in Branford, Connecticut hosted a Christmas Celebration featuring artful presentations from local public schools and sister congregations, as well as public vendors.
Salem Church of God in Clayton, Ohio, is hosting again what has become fruitful in many places across the country: a “Blue Christmas,” during which persons who have “lost a loved one, navigated health concerns, experienced a loss of income, or find [themselves] weighed down by bad news” have ample space to grieve while being encouraged of God’s comforting presence. Ultimately, the hope of Jesus always shines through.
Even the four universities of the Church of God are celebrating in special and unique ways this year. Anderson University, for instance, launched their inaugural Illuminate!, a walk-through Christmas light display in what’s known as “the Valley” on the AU campus—not just for students, but as a gift to neighbors (and travelers from all across the region).
While it may be a tempting for churches to turn insular during Advent, Church of God congregations realize the special chance at Christmas to connect people far from God to Christ. The cultural celebrations of Christmas prove time and time again fertile soil for seeds of the gospel. Thank God for pastors, leaders, and laypeople following in the footsteps of Jesus throughout the holidays!
How is your church reaching the community this Christmas with the hope of Jesus? Submit your story idea at https://cgm.formstack.com/forms/sharethestory. Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Cedar Creek Church of God participating in the local 2022 Christmas parade.