Matthew 1:23
…and they will call him Immanuel – which means “God with us.”

This is one of the most important lines of in the entire Bible. In these lines we are able to see both the miracle and meaning of Christmas. This lets us know that we are not in ministry alone, God is with us.

The Hebrew writer underscores this promise from God in Hebrews 13:5 by writing, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” This significant truth provides great assurance especially as we move into one of the most demanding seasons of the year in the local church. I encourage you to be ready and prepared to tell the Good News of the miracle and meaning of Christmas.

This week I was reminded that during one of our Christmas Celebrations in Portland a couple attended as a result of a mailed invitation they received. Although it seemed random to some, it was timely and impacting. Lori and Kurt decided since it was Christmas they’d respond to the mailed invite and attend the celebration. They had not gone to church in years. Surprisingly, they enjoyed the fine music and encouraging message. Several months later, Kurt was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Stunned and shocked by the news, they agreed they needed God’s help and remembered the church they attended the previous Christmas. Desperate, Kurt and Lori arrived to a warm welcome and were ushered to a seat. They weren’t sure what to expect, didn’t know the songs, but they felt welcomed by the people around them. They were desperate for God’s help. On that Sunday they experienced the wonder of salvation. Their heavy hearts where changed to joyful hearts miraculously. The months ahead were challenging, but they were so grateful that they had responded to the invitation to a Christmas service. It was the beginning of a changed life. A year later, Kurt went to be with the Lord and Lori was supported by a loving church family.

This Christmas a Kurt and a Lori are going to show up at your church. Are you ready? It may be their first time or they may come out of duty not devotion. Get ready! Get ready!

Here are some steps to consider:

1. Send special christmas invitations to your community.
2. Prepare your regular attendees to be ready to welcome special guests.
3. Pray over every seat and every gathering in the month.
4. Put your best greeters at the doors and your best hosts in the aisles.
5. Prepare response cards for both regular attendees and guests to fill out.
6. Give an invitation to become a Christ-follower in each gathering.
7. Present the hope of Christmas in every service.
8. Follow up on everyone who accepts Christ.
9. Be prepared for delayed responses.
10. Anticipate your greatest response this year.

The message of Christmas is God is with us! I am praying this will be a rewarding month for you. On behalf of Joy and I, and the entire Network Team, God bless you and Merry Christmas.