April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Be prepared to be hospitable. Get a few little nibbles ready in the fridge/freezer/pantry, and do whatever you might need to in order to feel at ease with the notion of opening your home. If you have carolers who visit - have a tract and cookies ready. If you have a friend who might need a place to wrap presents away from her toddler - dinner at your place with some extra space & time might be a huge blessing and open opportunity to share God with her. Do what you can to share hospitality - opening your doors can open the heart doors to many people!
Be mindful of those around you who have lost loved ones this year (and in years’ past). Invite someone who might be alone this season to share in your celebrations. Pray for them to be comforted in Christ and be willing to help as God leads.
Consider how you might bless a handicapped or elderly person in your neighborhood by bring some cheer into their world by offering to put up and take down Christmas lights/tree/decor. Leave them a little note to remind them God sees them and loves them.
Take the opportunity to thank service personnel and include a reminder of Christ’s life and love. This might be your children’s teacher, the local firefighters, or someone else who serves you or your community.
Party with a purpose! Invite coworkers, neighbors, friends over for a party and also invite some Christian friends who are prayed up and ready to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. Pray for God to move and see what doors He opens for you to share His Good News with those who need Him!
Visit a rest home with a Christmas tea party, an offer to pray for their needs, and a little reminder of the true reason we celebrate the season (I know a very precious lady in our church who has done this in years past!)
Visit your local Children’s hospital with carols, toys or something to brighten their spirits and fix their eyes on Jesus as their hope.
Purchase a ticket and invite a friend to a CYT, Lamb’s Players or Ballet Magnificat event this Christmas. Art gets to places in the heart where words don’t reach.
Write a family Christmas letter - and instead of rattling off this year’s promotions, accomplishments or troubles, give a testimony of God’s faithfulness and grace over you and yours. Give Him the glory for every good and praise Him through each trial!
Take church invites to Laundromats, library community board, local restaurants, preschools, etc.
Neighbor gifts - add tract, sermon on cd, or note with a Bible verse. I LOVE the movie the Gospel of John. The script is just the Bible text and it is really well done. It’d make a great neighbor gift :)
Prayer walk your neighborhood (here's a link to a Prayers for the Harvest --guide comes with two sets of Scripture prayer cards so you can pray with a friend. I hole punched mine and put them on a key ring to take with me when I walk.). After you walk and pray through your neighborhood pass out tracks-you might ask your neighbor if you can come back and discuss the tract with them at a later date. You can get tracts at Christian Book Distributors, Outreach and the American Tract Society.
Invite a friend, coworker, neighbor to church - our church makes special invites for the Christmas season and also has email/fb/twitter links to pass along church event info - ya can't get much easier than just fb posting an invite to a church event! Statistics show it takes about 8 times for a person to be invited before they say "yes" to attending church. Keep inviting... without badgering, of course ;)
Homeless help. Keep gift cards for fast food/restaurants in your glove box with tracts to give to the needy people on the streets that the Lord leads you to give to-this way the help won’t get used for drugs or alcohol.
Care packages - take care packages to your local women’s crisis center, a homeless center or to assist a sex-trafficking care center.
Listen. After recently reading through the Gospels, I noticed how often Jesus listened to people. Sometimes listening is a great act of service to someone. And as you listen, you will hear heart needs that are open doors to share the Answer to all our heart needs. Without listening we might miss those doors.
Serve. Look for ways to serve your family above and beyond what’s “expected.” Especially if you visit family members who don’t know Jesus, pray for God to show you opportunities to serve them. John 13:14-18 says: "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. " Let's "Do them"!
Pray about “adopting” a Compassion child - if you and your children select a child together, begin praying over him/her and make sacrifices together to minister to that little one, it just might be the best Christmas gift (after salvation, of course) you could give or receive!
Guard you heart from the worldliness of gifting and decorating that might steal away from Christ being your center. I'm not saying gifting and decorating aren't a fun and sweet part of celebrating the Greatest Gift, just guard against letting the pressures and stresses of the season rob you of love, joy, peace and patience. In the middle of the hustle and bustle (and often selfishness and rudeness accompanied with long lines, busy shoppers, traffic, etc) the Holy Spirit’s love, joy, peace and patience in your life will testify of Christ to those around you.
Consider your Christmas traditions and how they might reflect Christ even more. Elves, Santas, Sugar Plum fairies and such aren't necessarily bad; they also aren't necessarily good even if they're fun. Pray about how you can best honor the Lord in your celebrations. By fostering Christ honoring traditions, you are passing on a heritage that is eternal to your family. Your children and grandchildren are wired to learn from you/be influenced by you in a special way - pray for God to show you opportunities to share Him with your family.
Obey. A life of obedience to Christ is the best witness! Too often Christians have used the name “Christ follower” without letting the reality of that statement into the depths of their daily living. When we live so inconsistently the world around us views us as hypocrites. As the saying goes, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.” Our actions do indeed speak more loudly than our words!
Be ready. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to have a ready answer when someone asks us why we hope in Christ. I can say from sad experience, there’s been a few times I simply wasn’t ready! Study up, pray up and if God leads, be fasted up for the opportunities God has prepared for you to share Him.
Care. People don’t care how much (or what) you know until they know how much you care. Ask the Lord to show you ways you can be His hands and feet to reflect His caring heart toward those who need Him this Christmas season (and always).
Day 1 Pray. I know it sounds overly simplistic, but without our moment by moment abiding in Christ we can't bear a single ounce of fruit! So ask God to lay specific people on your heart, write their names down and commit to pray for them everyday through this season.