An Open Opportunity
by Andrea Stock
“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.” Mark 2:15 NIV
About this time last year, I was reading Matthew 9:9-13, which addresses Matthew’s call and response to become one of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus saw Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth and called him to come follow Him. Without hesitation, he accepted Jesus’ invitation and then extended his own invitation for dinner at his house, to anyone and everyone, to meet this Man who had just changed his life. After having read this passage, I was faced with one question: how can I follow Matthew’s example?
Without a second thought, three words came to my mind: Christmas open house. Then I added a question mark. Reality had set in. A Christmas open house? I’ve never hosted a Christmas open house before. In fact, I’ve never even been to one. Besides, I thought, my house is too small and I don’t really know my neighbors. But God reminded me of Matthew’s example.
The Bible never mentions the size of Matthew’s house, or the food he served at dinner, or whether he used any decorations or had a “theme” for this event. All he wanted to do was introduce his guests to Jesus. How could I not do the same?
If you are considering hosting an open house this Christmas, here are some suggestions I learned that will help you get started.
Invite neighbors, co-workers, church members, friends and family. Having a good mix of believers and unbelievers provides an opportunity for others to share in the joy of introducing the lost to Jesus.
Hand deliver your invitations. Guests are more likely to come if they talk to you in person beforehand. Even if they can’t make it, at least you had an opportunity to meet someone you might not have met before.
Limit the timeframe of the open house to two or three hours. Encourage guests to stop by for as little or as long as they can within that timeframe, and you will increase the likelihood and number of guests who can attend.
Keep refreshments simple. Since guests will be coming and going throughout the event, consider serving hot chocolate and cookies or finger foods and hot tea or wassail.
Play Christmas music in the background. Come in to our store and check out our assortment of contemporary collections and holiday favorites.
Give your guests a parting gift. Type the Christmas story or plan of salvation on a slip of cardstock or hand write it in a Christmas card, and attach one to each favor you hand out.
Plan an activity (optional). If you’d like to add an activity to your Christmas open house, try one of these simple ideas.
Read the Christmas story. Designate a guest or family member to read Luke 2:1-40 and Matthew 1:18-2:11. Or type these passages and divide them into sections. Print out multiple copies, then number and highlight a different section on each copy. Pass out a copy to each guest to be read in numerical order. Extra copies may be used for guests to simply follow along with those who are reading.Sing Christmas carols. Visit your local Christian bookstore for a copy of Christmas Favorites and Christmas Carols from Cedarmont Kids. Each CD comes with printable lyrics and split-track versions for singing along made easy.Celebrate Jesus’ birth with a birthday party for Him. Make or buy a cake that says “Happy Birthday, Jesus” on it. Play a game of Bible Trivia or Bible editions of Outburst and Guesstures. Have a gift exchange. Set a $5 limit on the gift that each participant brings. Place wrapped gifts in “a pile” and have each participant put his or her name in a hat or bowl. The first person whose name is drawn takes a gift from the pile and unwraps it. The second person whose name is drawn can either “steal” that person’s gift or take a gift from the pile. If a participant chooses to steal, the person whose gift is stolen then repeats his turn. He can take someone else’s gift (except the gift that was just taken from him) or unwrap a new gift. Gifts can be exchanged throughout the event as people come and go.Host a food drive for a local charity. Find a church, charity or family in your area that you can donate food, toys or clothes to. “Charge” guests one item per person for admission, and let them know where the proceeds will go.
For more open house ideas, visit your local Christian bookstore. Click on the find a store tab to locate the retail outlet nearest you.