Spreading the word
By Andrew Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
I remember the first time I went to church on Christmas morning. I was, I think, about 11 years old.
We may have gone to church on Christmas Day prior to that but I have absolutely no recollection of doing so whatsoever. I do remember getting my poor mum and dad up at about 6am to open presents, though. I suspect I was a rather annoying child.
It was my mum who suggested going. I baulked at the idea. “You don’t go to church on Christmas Day!” I replied.
Yes, I actually said that. What a total wombat I was.
She countered by pointing out that, if I did go, I would be able to wear my new combo – a pretend-silk red tie worn with a white shirt, rounded off with a new grey body warmer. Try not to laugh!
That persuaded me all right. I was possibly the most fashion-conscious/vain 11-year-old you could have hoped/dreaded to meet. So off I trotted with my mum and, possibly, my big sister. I don’t think my dad came.
For me as an 11-year-old, Christmas wasn’t about Jesus at all. I believed in God and knew that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday but I was way more interested in the presents and the Christmas pudding. I remembering finding it very strange indeed when the curate at our church led the whole congregation in a chorus of “Happy birthday to you” to Jesus on Christmas Day.
What’s my point? It’s this.
I think of going to church that Christmas as the beginning of the very long walk which led me to knowing Christ in the way I do today.
I had some kind of belief as an 11-year-old, but to get me to church my mum had to use something she knew would appeal to me – the opportunity to show the world how incredibly fashionable I was, and only 11 too!
It doesn’t matter how you introduce people to God. It’s introducing them that matters.
So if you have to remind people that there will be festive treats at Jubilee on Christmas Day, do it.
If you have to tell a reluctant 16-year-old about the other teenagers at the church, then do it.
If you have to attract people to an Alpha evening by letting them know that they will get a free meal, then do it.
God does not mind how you bring people into His house. And He certainly doesn’t want you to worry about how they will react when they arrive.
He just wants you to try to get them there in the first place. He will do the rest.
Note: I’m not saying that we don’t need to give people the absolute truth about who God is, what His word says and why they really should give their lives to Him as soon as they possibly can.
What I am saying is that getting them into church is often the first and best step we can make in doing so, and if pointing out that mulled wine and mince pies will be on offer will help then let’s do that.
Andrew Greenhalgh with his wife Julie