Amy’s Free Ideas

Seasons > Christmas > Activities for the Church--ideas for ways to celebrate Christmas

Christmas is a really great chance to get people to come to church that have never come before. Try to come up with new ideas rather than using the same ideas year after year. Ask yourself what are the kinds of things that would motivate you to come to church if you were not a believer--enough to make you want to leave your house, find a location you have no idea how to find,  and experience something you are not quite sure what is involved. Brainstorm with church members and ask people from other churches what they have done. (Get on this website’s forum and tell us what you have done that worked!) Here are things I have done (or seen done)--maybe it will include an idea or two that would be new for your church.

Ladies’ luncheon

This is a great tool in Japan. Many women do not work, so they have some free time. Women around the world love to get together with other women and talk and eat, especially if it is in a pretty location, and there is a fun event. So, if you do one of these at your church, make sure that at least some of the time is spent talking and getting to know each other. This can be a bit awkward with complete strangers, so help them out with ice breaker games that make them interact. The important thing here is help them get to know each other. That way, if they decide to come to the church for a regular meeting, they will already know a few people.

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Music will get a lot of people to leave the comfort of their own homes, so this can be a good tool, too. If you have a big church, you might be able to produce music worthy of a concert. If not, you have to do some research, and probably spend some money. There are some free options. Our daughters were in their school’s handbell group, and they did concerts in various churches. They were very good, so even though they were still in high school, it was still very worth coming to hear. They were also in the schools choir that did the same thing, and was also very high caliber. There are some musical missionaries who are also willing to sing in different churches. We had one come to our church’s ladies’ luncheon who was a harp player, which was very nice. There is an organization in Japan called CAN made up of Christian musicians that you could contact for possible groups to come to your church. This is how they make a living, so they need to be well paid. Unfortunately, when I visited their website and tried to change it to Japanese, it didn’t work. Hopefully they will fix that.

Candle light service

This is a popular service in Japan and America. It is usually held on Christmas eve. I am a bit conflicted about this, since in Japan, most families celebrate Christmas in their homes at this time since they go to school and work on Christmas day. But there are plenty of people who do not have children young enough to believe in Santa, so they do not celebrate Christmas at all. So for these people, this is a good way to celebrate Christmas--all they have to do is get up and go. Our church recruits music students from a nearby college to play for the Christmas eve service. It provides good quality music, it is an evangelistic outreach to these students who come for several practice sessions, and it provides an evangelistic outreach for the wider community to attend.

Children’s party

What kid doesn’t want to go to a party? This is a great way to get new kids to start coming to Sunday school. Fun games, food, and the true story of Christmas is all you need. Please don’t ruin it by having a pretend Santa show up. In the church, we want to teach the truth, especially in Japan where Christmas is Santa’s day and few kids even know who Jesus is. Lets be sure to tell them the true story of Christmas--the birth of Jesus, and do it in a way that will keep their attention so they listen and want to come back! Satan has hijacked Christmas outside the church, so let us proclaim the true meaning--eternal salvation for anyone who will believe!

Young People’s party

If you have a high school or college near your church, use a party to introduce the church to young people that wouldn’t otherwise come to church. The internet and cell phones are a great way to advertise--especially if your churches’ young people are the ones doing the inviting.

Craft classes

Because Christmas decorations are hard to find in Japan, and expensive, this has been a great outreach tool for me. Over the years I have taught many things, such as how to make wreaths, candle stands, advent calendars, nativity sets made from wooden clothes pins, soap, paper stars, etc. I mostly got materials from hundred yen stores to keep the costs down. Eventually I would like to upload photos and instructions to the website, but that will have to be sometime in the future. Keep checking!

Cooking Classes

American Christmas cookies or cakes are a good draw in Japan because it is unusual. Some of the most popular goodies I have taught were gingerbread cookies and houses, as well as a cake train, marshmallow snowmen, and rice crispy tree (made with cornflakes.) I have also taught ways to decorate a swiss roll cake (sold bought at most grocery store.) Several times I have made a complete cookie nativity scene and chocolate houses, though these were just for display (and to eat) since it required cookie cutters or molds from America. It’s all just to create an event that people want to come to so that I can share my testimony.

Christmas decoration house tour

Most people are delighted to see my house decorated from top to bottom. Giving annual tours, complete with Christmas goodies, has forced me to be creative by  changing the decorations every year--the purple balls that graced the wreath on my front door for several years decorated my daughters bedroom next, then a bathroom, then the whole living room and dinging room. How I managed to decorate a whole room with the balls from one wreath, I am not sure! When people come to my house, I always share how God is working in my life--that’s the whole point for decorating and inviting people to come see the Christmas decorations.


In America, any group of people who want to go caroling can wander around any neighborhood and sing carols, and for the most part, they will be welcomed. In Japan, groups of Christians get together at a pre-arranged time and travel fairly long distances to sing at church member’s homes. So in this case, it is a way for Christians to celebrate Christmas together-- it is not an outreach tool. This is a legitimate goal--not everything has to be evangelistic. However, it could be turned into an evangelistic tool if by making it into a service project to sing at a retirement home, and also share several testimonies.

Service projects

These opportunities abound in America, but not so much in Japan. Some church members help the homeless by feeding them and helping them find clothing, shelter and work. Others spread Christmas cheer by giving food and toys to families that would not be able to celebrate Christmas without it. Another popular service project in America is to collect small toys and toiletries and school supplies, put them in a shoebox, and send them to an organization that transports them to poor children in other countries. It’s a fun idea, but I have not heard the results, as to whether it is worth the time and money invested.

Live nativity scene

This is something that is quite popular in America and comes in many forms. Some churches make it for viewing only, and you drive by in your car to view the scenes. (the poor people must be really cold, since they just stand outside in the dark several evening!!) Other churches go all out with complete theatrical events that take all year to prepare. They have to have a huge building to put the play on, huge parking lots, people to direct traffic, and multiple productions to keep up with the demand. A lot of people go to see this! It is also a huge commitment of time and resources for the churches that do this. Each church has to decide what is the best use of their resources.

Christmas pageant

This is done on a much smaller scale, and the quality is not nearly as good as the “live nativity scene describe above. But if your church has a lot of children that come to Sunday school without their parents,  it can be a great way to get parents to come to church to see their children perform in a play. During the fall, have the children practice for the play during part of Sunday school

You may need to have some extra practices, too, to make it worth coming to see.

Seasons > Christmas > Activities for the Church--ideas for ways to celebrate Christmas