Monday, July 22, 2013

A Church Ministry

Yes, this program can also be a successful ministry for a congregation. It can be as little or extensive as the congregation chooses. There are several parts to it.

A = big Christian symbols ornaments for the church tree in the sanctuary

B = miniature Christian symbols ornaments as gifts to all the children in the church

It is important that a church has groups for people with all kinds of different interests. Having a group of people who come together during the year to make big and/or miniature ornaments gives a great opportunity to invite a new person. It is none-threatening to a person who would like to contribute but is not ready to serve in another way. If you want to make a miniature ornament for each child in the church, find out how many you need. You probably want to decide whether you set the criteria “infancy through 12th grade” or include college kids. Every year a different symbol is selected.

The ornaments need to be wrapped in waxed tissue paper (good place to get this is the florist). Flat ornaments can be put in envelopes. For this I seal a business size envelope (a red or green one is especially nice) and print the explanation of Chrismons and the meaning of the symbol on front and back. Cut off one end to the appropriate size and punch a hole in the middle. You can use gift wrap ribbon to close it. For 3-D ornaments you can make the boxes explained in another chapter. Again, including people to help with making the boxes or help with the wrapping is an opportunity for ministry.

Decide with your minister/rector/pastor when the gift-giving should take place. It depends a little on when the big church tree is put up. Second or third Sunday of Advent at the time of the announcements or children’s sermon during the main service is a good time.

About 2 weeks before that date you want to prepare cards to send to each child (his/her name, not one per family). The church secretary can usually generate a label for each child in the congregation including prospects, friends, etc. (you may want to go over these with your minister/rector/pastor and pull some). I see this as a great evangelizing opportunity. Instead of stewardship letters and pledge cards, you are sending invitations to pick up a gift from the church. This could be an important “open door” for a “lapsed member”.

At that time you also want to put an article in the newsletter explaining about the Chrismon tradition in your church, that cards have been sent out etc. Make sure to stress that the children need to bring the cards to exchange for the gift.

On the day of the gift-giving make sure that ushers have blank cards available for those who forgot to bring them back and any guest/newcomer children that day (we don’t want anybody to be left out). The blank cards can be used just like the ones mailed if the child writes his/her name on it clearly. It needs to be emphasized that the child’s name should be written on the blank card.

The originators of Chrismons have copyrighted their designs and demand that the ornaments should not be sold. The designs in my book are mine and I think it is o.k. to sell leftover (not picked up) ornaments to pay for the material and/or benefit a designated charity. If it is for a charity, people should not mind if the price is a little on the high side.

It is nice to make about a dozen big size ornaments for the church tree of the symbol of that year. If there is a group of people making these, a little tag could be attached to each stating who made it for posterity. If it is just one person who made them, the big ornaments could be made available for members to make a donation in honor or memory for a loved one - - and tagged with this info for years to come. Donations could be designated to pay for the material (the big beads and pearls are quite expensive) or for a certain charity (or both). In years to come it will be more fun to decorate the church tree especially if donators, honorees and/or their children or grandchildren are involved.

Suggested text for the cards:
XXX Church
has reserved a Christian Ornament (a Chrismon) for you as a giftin honor of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.This year’s Ornament is the XXX.The Ornament will be given out during the XXX service on December XX, the X Sunday of Advent.You DO need to bring this card to exchange it for your gift.All Ornaments not picked up that day will be given to others.If you know that you can’t be there that day, let the office knowin advance and we will keep your ornamentuntil you can pick it up. All you have to do is let us know.

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