This week I sat in on a meeting that could’ve been held in any church. Our ministry team met to discuss the winter calendar, the service projects, and Christmas programs…and some of the comments got me to thinking. In evaluating the effectiveness of our Christmas celebration, a few seemed to consider the key criteria to be how many non-Christians attended the event.
True, this group was meeting primarily to discuss evangelism and mission projects. In another venue, the conversation could’ve pivoted on a different point. And I agree that we desperately want seekers to brave a visit to our church, especially at Christmas. Every effort should be made to welcome new visitors to any event.
But is the value of every church activity judged by the attendance of non-believers? Is this our principal concern when planning our celebration of Christ’s birth? If a cantata leads church members to grow in gratitude for the incarnation would the work be worth it? If visitors from a sister-church are inspired, is that beneficial? Leading people to worship, sharing joy, teaching eternal truths through creative means…can that only edify if someone who doesn’t know Christ is sitting in the pew?
True, our most beautiful art, our best literature and our most stirring music should present truth in such a winsome manner that it draws all people to Christ, but the creation and presentation is for God’s glory whether there are any to evangelize or not.
We should do missions. We should collect alms, pass out the loaves and fishes, carry the gospel abroad—definitely. But there are also times that great preparation is needed to make a fitting celebration for our King. There are times when we need to break that alabaster jar and pour an extravagant gift of our best workmanship for our Master. Offering the commonplace doesn’t satisfy when we remember the perfection of our true audience.
And once revived by a glimpse of His Majesty, the beauty of His Holiness, and the fellowship of His church then we are qualified to talk of the richness of communion with God. Then we leave equipped to tell a parched world where to find the Living Water.