Amid the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday season, it can be easy for Christians to get caught up in last-minute shopping, music programs and parties like everyone else. But Marty Dupree, evangelism and church growth team leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), urges fellow believers not to miss one of the best times of the year for sharing Jesus with neighbors, friends and those they meet in stores.
Dupree spends much of his time encouraging and teaching N.C. Baptists how to share their faith daily and not to limit evangelism to mission trips and outreach events.
“Life is a mission trip,” Dupree said, while leading an “Evangelism Crash Course” workshop in November at the BSC annual meeting in Greensboro.
“Everywhere you go you have opportunities to talk to people, and you share with people as you go.”
But Christmas, he later added, is one of the best times of the year when it comes to inviting others – specifically those who don’t normally attend services – to church.
Marty Dupree, left, talks with Pastor Rick Crouse of Dry Ponds Baptist Church in Granite Falls at the Baptist State Convention annual meeting in November. Dupree led an “Evangelism Crash Course” workshop at that meeting.
In a 2008 survey, Lifeway Research found that 47 percent of respondents cited that “during the Christmas holiday season” they were more open to considering issues of faith. The study also found that “67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a church going family member would be the most effective method a local congregation or faith community could use to invite them to attend.” Invitations from a friend or neighbor were nearly as successful with 63 percent indicating this type of invitation would be effective.
Dupree shared several ideas about incorporating evangelism into fun and easy seasonal activities in a neighborhood.
– Christmas caroling.
Dupree said his family reaches out to their neighborhood through Christmas caroling each year. The first year they tried it, he said, about nine people showed up to participate. But in recent years the number of neighbors who participate has grown to 40.
– Holding an open house party.
Dupree encourages carolers to invite neighbors to attend an open house for food and fellowship. The host family can use that time to read the Christmas story, as well as share prayer requests and testimonies. Children could also prepare a Christmas skit. The open house soon becomes “ministry time,” Dupree said.
A family also can invite neighborhood kids over for a birthday party for Jesus, where the story of Christ can be shared.
– Share “True meaning of Christmas” tract. Click here to access the material.
The tract – or as Dupree calls it “a Bible study” – can be shared door-to-door through Christmas caroling or even while shopping. The booklet also can be handed out as Christmas cards, he said.
Flyers for Christmas events, musicals and dramatizations at church also can be evangelistic tools and provide opportunities to invite neighbors and friends to church.
For the upcoming year, Dupree suggested hosting a New Year’s resolution party or incorporating evangelism into other events, such as Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day parties.
For more information or suggestions contact Dupree at (919) 467-5100, ext. 5565, or his ministry assistant at ext. 5565.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brooklyn Lowery, a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, contributed to this story.)