Dear First Pres,

   On Sunday night we will celebrate Christmas Eve, and it's going to be a great night. We have three wonderful services planned (remember the Sunday morning service at 9:30 is not a Christmas Eve service). And everyone is getting prepared ... dancers, singers, musicians, Scripture readers, ushers, sound techs, custodians, prayers, and preachers. Making these three Christmas Eve services happen is a massive team effort. Thank you to all the folks who do that work on the chancel and behind the scenes.
   So, why all the effort? What's the big deal? Well, just like every worship service, we want the First Pres family to engage with God in an authentic and powerful way through worship. When that happens, our lives change. But Christmas Eve has a little more hoopla that our regular Sunday services, doesn't it? That's because Christmas Eve is our biggest welcome event of the year.
   What is a welcome event? It's something that we do on our campus to welcome newcomers and introduce them to the Good News of Jesus. Some might think of that as outreach, but we now define outreach as the intentional work of building sustainable relationships with those outside the church. Outreach, then, is the work that precedes a welcome event like Christmas Eve.
   Here's what I'd love to see happen with our church: I'd love for every member of our church to prioritize participation in our Christmas Eve services. By participation, I don't just mean attendance. I mean participating in Christmas Eve as our biggest welcome event of the year. That means that every member is prayerfully considering who might benefit from hearing the Good News of Christmas. Every member is prayerfully inviting folks who don't have a church home to join us for one of the services. Every member is prayerfully anticipating the services and asking God to move in powerful ways for His glory to build His Church. Then, on Christmas Eve, it means that every member is in "host" mode, from the parking lot to the pew, leading the way in welcoming others to our services and demonstrating the awesome love of God.
   Can you imagine the power of an entire congregation prayerfully working together for our biggest welcome event of the year? I believe that is possible. And I believe God will use that prayerful effort in wonderful ways to grow our congregation deep and wide. May it be so.
   On Sunday we celebrate the way that our God, very intentionally, moved toward us that we might be saved. Now, may we intentionally move toward the people God puts around us so that they might also experience the joy of His salvation.

So grateful to celebrate Christmas with you,


P.S. Here's another reason to come on Sunday morning: we'll be celebrating the baptism of one of our little ones. See you then.