Children line up to bring in pieces of the manger scene at South Main Baptist Church in Crossett.
Arkansas Baptist churches use Christmas for strategic outreach
Arkansas Baptist News
CHRISTMASTIME is once again upon us. People are decorating their homes and gingerbread houses. Churches have also joined in on the Christmas festivities by having cantatas, musicals and their annual “hanging of the green.”
Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana uses this time of year to show its community that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus by conducting activities focused on homebound church members.
“We are a church that is over 114 years old, and we have a lot of members who are unable to attend church due to illness or mobility needs. So, we take church to them,” said Richard Posey, associate pastor of Beech Street.
The church’s adult choir goes caroling to the homebound members, and the children make Christmas cards to send them. Church leaders go to the homes or nursing homes of church members to observe the Lord’s Supper and present poinsettias.
“Christmastime is a very active time for all believers, and we don’t want the homebound to feel left out of these times. We do this on a regular basis all through the year. These members still love Jesus and need that community of believers to fellowship with,” Posey said.
Beech Street started a ministry five years ago to local prison inmates. The adult choir performs its Christmas musical, and the pastor presents the gospel message to hundreds of inmates. The church also participates in different drives to provide socks and toiletries to inmates.
“If you could be there and see the smiles on their faces, the participation in the songs and the response to the message, the impact is self-explained,” said Posey. “You see a transformation on their faces during the program, and we have had multiple inmates receive Christ.”
Along with other Arkansas Baptist churches across the state, Beech Street holds two candlelight services on Christmas Eve for the community – both of which offer the Lord’s Supper.
“We observe the Lord’s Supper during Christmas to bring the level of excitement down to a level where individuals can commune with God on a quiet and personal level. We are celebrating the birth and resurrection of Christ in the same service,” said Posey.
Keyboards at Christmas
A highly anticipated annual community event in Fort Smith is Keyboards at Christmas presented by Oak Cliff Baptist Church. The event includes 21 pianists playing four grand pianos with a 60-voice choir.
“The event is significant because it is the largest outreach event of the year for our church,” said Lyndel Hobbs, associate pastor and minister of music and education at Oak Cliff. “We hear testimonies each year of people who have brought friends and relatives and are grateful for the way we share the gospel message clearly.”
The event was started 13 years ago when Pastor Kent Sweatman observed how many pianists were at Oak Cliff. The event has grown into a three-day Christmas concert with a packed auditorium.
“It has become something that the church is known for in the community. Most of our church members who are not involved as musicians or as greeters attend the dress rehearsal in order to make room for the community who shows up,” said Hobbs. “For us it is a worship service where we are lavishing adoration on our Lord, and we invite the community to participate with us free of charge.”
Keyboards at Christmas was held Dec. 7-9 and featured classic Christmas songs, including “Mary, Did You Know?” and “O Holy Night.” The finale was Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” with 16 people playing simultaneously on four pianos, an organ and keyboard.
First Baptist Church, Sherwood, hosts its Winter Wonderland Celebration that features a birthday party for Jesus, a North Pole Express train ride, bounce houses and food. The event will be held at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 15.
“The night of our Fall Festival was plagued by storms,” said Shirley Mamoth, children’s coordinator at First Baptist. “We were looking for another opportunity to invite the community out to celebrate with us. What better thing to celebrate than the birth of our Savior?”
She said children can have photos made with Santa and participate in a snowball fight. Along with a Christmas movie playing on a giant inflatable screen, the event will feature a live nativity scene that includes a petting zoo and donkey and camel rides.
Pastor Ricky Lee will be sharing the Christmas story, and there will be skits to highlight the story, added Mamoth.
With all the joy of Christmas, it’s easy to forget that this season can be hard for people who are grieving. Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock held a special service Dec. 2 for anyone who had experienced loss – loss of loved ones, relationships, employment, health and other things. Called “Breathe,” the community worship service was designed to help those who were struggling with grief.
Whether you are ministering to kids or adults, the Christmas season is a perfect time to share the love of God with people in your community (see related article).
Contact Sarah Davis at email@example.com.