The season of advent is all about remembering the first coming of Christ, anticipating his certain return, and giving intentional consideration to the many ways he comes to us each day. And yet, the Christmas season is a gauntlet to run for us Salvos. It’s just plain tough. Long hours and huge workloads, and all of it so critical to the mission and ministry we pour our hearts into year round.
It’s hard enough to try and keep the true spirit of advent rooted in ourselves; staying committed to discipleship and youth development in the midst of the season’s craziness might seem like too much to ask! So here are three simple suggestions for staying committed to this same type of personal, beautiful, powerful discipleship this December. Try them out, you might just rediscover Christ in the midst of kettles.
1) Write Some Cards
A lot of this season involves waiting. Waiting for the bellringers to show up. Waiting for the next run. Waiting for the next load of kettles to count. Instead of finding some busy work to get done in those moments of waiting, try writing a card to someone. Pray for your bellringers and hand deliver a note to each of them over the course of the month. Write an encouraging letter to one of of your shut in Corps members. Spend time praying for each of your young people and mail them a card. Everyone likes getting mail! Tell them what God has put on your heart for them. Tell them how glad you are that they are a part of your Corps (pro tip: this is a great time of year to make sure you’re up to date on all your young peoples’ contact info).
2) Take Someone Out to Dinner
I’m an officer’s kid, and every December growing up, the local pizza place would send our family a poinsettia to thank us for our business. Yeah, Salvos eat out a lot during December. Take advantage of the situation and treat someone since you’ll be eating out anyways. Pick up somebody from the praise band (or your 80 year old organist) and take them out for a burger. Split a pizza with a couple of your Corps Cadets. Don’t ask for their help with something, just spend some quality time with someone you want to disciple and share a meal with them. Ask them about their hearts, encourage them, listen to them, pray with them, and hopefully laugh with them! This kind of discipleship was right in Jesus’ wheelhouse, am I right?
3) Stop by Someone’s House Uninvited
Instead of heading back to the Corps for a few hours before your evening route, take the 12 passenger on a tour of the houses of all your young people. Don’t call, just show up. Tell them to hop in and keep going until the van is full. Stop and get ice cream in December just because you can and it’s too cold to really enjoy, but why not? If you want to take it to the next level, make a great Christmas mix and string up some lights in the van. Do whatever silly gesture you can to make them feel special (Santa hats for everyone? Sure!). Or stop by some of your Corps members houses with a box of hot chocolate and ask them to put the kettle on. Do whatever you can to let people know you’re thinking about them and praying for them (and make sure you’re actually praying for them!).
December Discipleship Push?
Hopefully these suggestions can help you find that this time of year can actually be the exact perfect time to focus on youth development and discipleship. We just have to remind ourselves that discipleship doesn’t have to happen in the classroom. Jesus discipled his chosen twelve, not with a set curriculum at a weekly scheduled meet up, but out in the streets and in their homes. In the midst of the mess and craziness of their “ministry” Jesus brought his closest followers into the Kingdom of God, and our world has never been the same because of it. That’s because discipleship is all about getting tired and dirty and worn out… together.
- Got a tip to add? How do you stay committed to discipleship and connected with your people during the Kettle season?
- What’s your favorite thing about the kettles? Least favorite?
- What do you do to stay sane during this time of year?