One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story in Luke 2 is the shepherds. I love that the first people to be told about the coming of Jesus weren’t the religious elite or kings and rulers. Instead, they were instead common shepherds, ordinary working-class people.
When Jesus describes himself as a shepherd in the gospels, I think back to the first people who visited him as he lay in the manger.
The shepherds were the first evangelists. They took the good news that was told to them by the angels and that they witnessed with their own eyes, and shared it with everyone they met. They began the task of spreading this good news that would, as the angel said, bring great joy to all people.
If the shepherds spread the good news at the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth, Jesus commissioned his followers to spread the good news at the end of it, telling his disciples, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.”
Christmas offers a unique opportunity to share the good news, but it can be difficult to know how to start. Here are 5 keys to sharing your faith during the Christmas season.
Prime with Prayer
Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before beginning his ministry. He also took time away from the crowds to pray throughout his ministry (Luke 5:16). We can follow his example by first talking with God before stepping out into the world this Christmas.
Be intentional with your prayers, asking God to give you opportunities to share your faith with friends, family, neighbors, or even strangers.
Think of specific people in your life and pray that God would bring them closer to himself this Christmas. Pray for wisdom and discernment for yourself in knowing how best to love them.
Start with Service
Again we follow Christ’s example: he healed the sick, fed the hungry, and gave hope to the broken. He didn’t just preach a message, but met physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
It can be easy to forget amidst all the Christmas cheer that many people are truly hurting at this time of year, whether visibly or beneath the surface. Consider how you can love the people around you and help meet their needs this Christmas.
That can take many forms, whether volunteering with an organization that helps the homeless, or dropping of some fresh baking at your neighbors’ or offering to shovel their driveway.
It’s a lot easier to believe that Jesus loves you when one of his followers has shown that love to you.
Be Open to Opportunities
You don’t have to go far to find Jesus at Christmas, so opportunities to share your faith can come up at almost any time. A spiritual conversation can stem from a simple question — asking how someone is planning to celebrate Christmas, for example — or something entirely unexpected.
A friend, family member, or neighbor who has previously shown no interest in church may be open to attending a Christmas Eve service in person or online. They may just be waiting for an invitation.
If you watch Christmas specials with your family, a conversation could be sparked by Linus' reciting of Luke 2:8-14 in A Charlie Brown Christmas, as he lays aside his security blanket to share the true meaning of Christmas.
Just be ready to listen, ask questions, and find out where they’re coming from.
Move Beyond the Manger
So much of the focus at Christmas time is on the baby Jesus, lying in a manger.
That’s a great starting point for the gospel, but it’s important that the conversation doesn’t stop there. People need to know who he is, why he came, what he accomplished through his death, resurrection and ascension, and how they can follow him and be transformed by him.
Give it to God
Here’s some more good news about the good news: it’s not all up to you.
It can be easy to feel discouraged when it comes to evangelism. All our efforts can seem fruitless at times. But, the Bible is clear on this: we can’t save people. God does that.
It’s also important to know when to step back. Some people won’t be interested in engaging in a spiritual conversation at Christmas for various reasons. We are called to share the good news with those who want to hear it, not force people to hear it whether they want to or not.
But by taking the time to serve and love someone at Christmas, a seed can be planted. We might not even be the ones that see that seed grow, but God is in control and can do amazing things, things that we can’t even begin to imagine.
This doesn’t mean that we share the gospel once and give up. This doesn’t mean that once Christmas is over we go back to living in a Christian bubble, far removed from those who need Jesus. We must continue to serve those around us all year, building relationships, and both living and preaching the gospel as God gives us the opportunities to do so.
Evangelism shouldn’t stop at Christmas.