It’s that time of year again, the time when Christians complain.
“Christmas is now so commercialized.”
“It’s become so sentimental and saccharine.”
“They’ve taken the Christ out of Christmas.”
Ironically, it’s Christians who can become Ebenezer Scrooges at Christmas, saying “Bah” to all the spiritual forgetfulness in the culture. But here is my question: What if the world will always be forgetful of the reason for the season? And what if God intends a group of people to remind them—not with annoyance but with joy?
I think of the traditional Jewish Passover. Every year the youngest member of the household asks, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The youngster is not then blasted by his elders for such spiritual ignorance. It’s written into the holiday. The question needs to be asked and the answer needs to be given — an answer that tells of the saving love of God. There’s a season and there’s a reason. It’s expected that the season needs explaining. And it’s a privilege to give the reason.
This is how I feel about a world forgetful of Christ at Christmas. The forgetful are like that Jewish youngster asking, “Why is this holiday different from all other holidays?” I’m not surprised when people miss the meaning of Christmas. Instead, I’m prepared with a gift: a book about Christmas.
In my ten years as an evangelist, I have seen the immense usefulness of Christmas books that are short, accessible, and gospel-focused. I have written a couple myself: Four Kinds of Christmas and The Gift. Beyond those, there are a growing number of options, including Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christmas, Andrew Sach and Jonathan Gemmel’s The Weirdest Nativity, and Rebecca McLaughlin’s Is Christmas Unbelievable?
In my ten years as an evangelist, I have seen the immense usefulness of Christmas books that are short, accessible, and gospel-focused.
What unites these kinds of books is their intended audience (those with no prior knowledge of Christian faith) and their length (they can be read in under an hour).
The size of a gift book is more important than you might think. If literature is too small, people think it’s disposable. If it’s too large, they think it’s unreadable. But with attractive design, a nice pocket size, and the ability to buy in bulk, short Christmas books become a very attractive way to spell out the reason for the season.
The low cost of these books means that any Christian can buy 20 to fill stockings, and any church can buy 200 to use in its outreach. Why not wrap them as gifts and put them on every chair for a carols by candlelight or Christmas Eve service? Or give one to every visitor to your weekly ministries? Or buy 1,000 and give one to each family in your neighborhood?
Consider five reasons giving a Christmas book to an unbeliever works so well.
1. Gifts Communicate
Christmas and gifts go hand in hand: “For God so loved the world that he gave” (John 3:16). In our generosity we express something profound about God’s character. (This children’s book is written on that very theme, and it’s ideal to give away too.)
2. Books Are Precious
It’s a very rare person who throws a book in the trash. It’s almost the last thing people feel comfortable discarding. The recipient feels valued and the gift feels weighty—something to be treasured.
3. Words Are Powerful
The book of Hebrews is around 6,000 words (similar to the length of these books). It’s also thought by many to be something like a transcript from a sermon (Heb. 13:22; cf. Acts 13:15). Christmas books of this kind are long enough to pack a real punch but short enough to be read in one sitting.
4. The New Year Is Coming
The second half of December—especially once your final Christmas service is over—is the most difficult time for in-person evangelism. Most church members hunker down for family time, so if guests at your Christmas event show interest, it might be weeks before you can follow up. But if you give people a book, you have pressed into their hands a beautifully contextual preacher. This season is ideal for reading.
5. The Reason Makes Sense of the Season
The world grinds to a halt at Christmas, and there is still a cultural memory that somewhere, somehow, it has to do with Jesus. When the season is so prominent, sharing its reason is the most obvious and natural thing. Your non-Christian friends are least shocked when you share Christ at Christmas. With a beautifully designed Christmas book in hand, you have one of your best opportunities of the year to share Christ.
So don’t be surprised at people’s forgetfulness about Christ at Christmas. Instead, we must use the opportunity to speak. With generosity, think how you can give gifts that bring “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10).