By Dema Kohen
Christmas is quickly approaching—a time when our already hectic lives become even more frenzied. Ahhhh, the joys!
But among all our frantic shopping, party hopping, service planning, and present wrapping, is there a better time to create sacred spaces for our volunteers where they can experience the joy, peace, love, and hope of the season?
It’s so easy for us to think that all our Christmas events, outreach events, and experiences are for others—our kids, our families, our community, people outside our church, and our first-time guests. However, here are three simple ways that you can nurture the hearts of your volunteers as well and point them to Jesus.
- EAT & TALK
Thirty minutes before an event, serve your volunteers some fun finger foods, and take time to check in on all present to see how they are doing amid all the holiday chaos. If you’re looking for a way to spruce up the chat at your refreshments table, these Christmas conversation starters will help!
- How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn’t real? How did it happen and how did it impact you? (Be careful asking this question with children in the room.)
- What’s the best gift you’ve ever received and what made it special?
- Who’s the most difficult person to buy for at Christmas?
- What are your favorite Christmas movies and why?
- Have you ever had a terrible Christmas? If so, what happened?
- Do you have a favorite specific Christmas decoration? Does it have a particular memory attached to it?
- What do you think your Christmas tree would say if it could talk?
2. SING & PRAY
Nothing refreshes a soul more than being in God’s presence. One of the best ways to help your volunteers focus their thoughts on God and draw near to him is through worship. Be sure to schedule time in your meetings for worshipful moments where they’ll be given a chance to behold and enjoy Jesus. Here are a number of creative ideas for ending your worship time in prayer:
- If your group is large, break into pairs or triads and encourage people to share specific personal needs and pray for one another. Sometimes quieter folks feel more comfortable praying in a smaller group.
- Prepare some large cards with Christmas words on them, such as Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Savior, great joy to all people, one of us, bow down and worship, and so on. Place them where people can see them. Invite your volunteers to pray using these words as their prayer prompts.
- Some people—maybe even you!—find it helpful to follow a prayer guide. All you need to do is offer short prayers that include brief pauses for private prayer. Here’s an example:
Father-God, we thank you that you loved the world so much that you gave your one and only Son.
Let us thank God for His indescribable gift. (PAUSE.)
Tonight, as many families are getting ready to come and celebrate Christmas with us, we pray that you’ll meet them where they are.
Let’s think of the people who have never been to our church before and ask that God will be especially close to them. (PAUSE.)
We also remember those people who have heard the Christmas story many times but have never opened their hearts to accept Jesus.
Let’s remember them in our own prayers now. (PAUSE.)
Father-God, we know that Christmas can be a difficult time for some people.
Let’s think of one or two particular friends who might be struggling this Christmas and ask that God will wrap his arms around them. (PAUSE.)
Jesus, we celebrate you as our Prince of Peace, may everyone who comes to our event experience your peace tonight. It’s in your name and for your glory we pray. Amen.
3. LAUGH & PLAY
The Bible says that a joyful (cheerful, happy) heart is good medicine. The angels declared to the shepherds that they brought them good tidings of great joy for all people. I think it’s safe to say that laughter and joy are fitting for the Christmas season and could do a great amount of good for your volunteers. So . . . try these:
- Do a white elephant gift exchange.
- Build gingerbread houses or decorate cookies together.
- Take photos with silly props.
- Hold an ugly sweater contest.
- Play Christmas charades where players attempt to portray a Christmas character without saying a word or making a sound.
As we’re approaching the busiest and most stressful season of the year, be intentional about creating simple opportunities for you and your volunteers to fellowship, worship, and have fun together.
Editor’s note: Looking for tangible ways to thank your ministry volunteers? Check out the Volunteer Appreciation items at ctainc.com.