Masks. Caution tape. Locked doors. 25% capacity. Plastic barriers. Covid has changed life and made it difficult to see—not just our family and friends and the cashier at the store, but Christ, too! From school and work to church and social gatherings, things are far from normal.
And yet, despite these unexpected changes, we know that Jesus is the same…yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). The hope His birth brings has not been diminished amidst the trials of 2020 either. For many, it simply must be rediscovered, perhaps more than ever this Christmas.
You might still be fully online. You may be worshipping in person again, or you may be somewhere in the middle—doing services with limited capacity and still offering most ministries virtually. No matter what reopening phase you’re in, Outreach’s new ReDiscover Christmas Advent campaign works. It’s about reconnecting—with others and Jesus—in a world that has disconnected in so many ways.
People have missed people! It’s no surprise that since the pandemic started in March, people have been longing for meaningful connections with others. In a time of fear and anxiety when many would find solace among friends and family, kids and adults alike have been forced into isolation. And Netflix, Zoom and Facebook just haven’t cut it!
In fact Almost 41% of US adults in a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported struggling with their mental health or substance use — both related to the coronavirus pandemic and some of the measures put in place to contain it, such as physical distancing.
And despite churches’ best efforts to stream worship, start online small groups and offer a weekly kids’ church via Youtube, a recent Barna study shows 33% of Christians have stopped participating in church in any form during the pandemic. That number presents you with a bigger challenge than normal this Christmas—sharing the hope of Christ’s birth with those who’ve never experienced it but reminding those who have experienced it, that Christ is still there. Hope remains.
To help do this, we asked those of you who have purchased Advent campaigns in the past, what you thought. And some 64% of you shared that ReDiscover Christmas—a message laced with simple hope, peace, love and joy—would most resonate with your audience and community this year, even if it’s not part of your annual Christmas tradition. So, let’s do this together.
Meeting the Need
ReDiscover Christmas is a five-sermon campaign that starts November 29 and begins to fill the holes in people’s hearts as Advent starts: finding hope in our uncertainties; peace in our struggles, joy in our discouragements; love in our differences; and lastly, Christ in our world on December 25.
Implemented in-person or online, the campaign includes five customizable sermons, numerous videos including a trailer, invite, welcome, service countdown and bumper videos, 29 web and social graphics in two different design themes—one more traditional, one more contemporary, to fit your audience; an event planning guide; a social media guide; and a shareable 30-day Advent reading plan.
The unique downloadable Advent Reading Plan provides your church with a free resources you can use to engage your participating members, connect with members who have been absent and reach new people in your community.
The guide can be posted to your website and/or social media pages, used as a free give away on mailed invitations, and even printed out and provided to families coming in person or to non-tech savvy members, and to community organization like homeless shelters, assisted living facilities or jails and prisons! There is even a tip sheet that includes numerous ideas for how to use this resource to reach your community and share the hope of Christmas.
Sharing Good News
Sounds like a lot to implement? Don’t do it alone. In fact, it won’t work if you try to go it alone. Engage your people! Encourage them to reconnect with friends and family. Outreach can provide direct-mail invitations, but individuals can be digital ambassadors, posting and sharing invites and videos tied to the campaign to spread the word.
And one benefit of our new digital world is that now families who live miles apart and cannot visit this year, can watch services together from their homes and use the reading plan to feel more connected!
And, of course, it won’t work without God’s help. Begin praying now that He would use this Advent to bring people back into a relationship with your church and with Jesus.
Together, we can share the real, deeper meaning of Christmas amidst the uncertainty 2020 has brought. We have an opportunity to share hope—there’s already a vaccine for the hurt of this world. It just needs to be ReDiscovered!