More ideas will be added from time to time.
This 14 minute video contains seven suggestions which your church or church group will enjoy and find useful in helping people discover the real and wonderful story of the birth of Jesus.
"Take Your Partners"
Even in a small rural community, there are often others who have plans for Christmas. Please ensure that you speak with them before you firm down your own plans and hope that everyone will come to them. They include other churches. Anglicans work with discrete parish boundaries, and it can be easy to fail to realise that Free Churches in nearby communities may serve the village in which you are located. Always work ecumenically where possible, especially at Christmas. No one church should monopolise the opportunities Christmas brings. Local Schools will certainly have plans and will probably put on special Christmas events. Find out if there are any ways that you can support and/or resource their ideas. Other people you should talk to are your Parish Council, local pubs and shops, and other organisations active in your area. Please do not plan on your own. This is a great opportunity to engage with the local community, but it is often missed because churches are too busy with their own plans.
A quiz can be both a lot of fun and also a teaching tool. Use the links below to print off both the questions and the answers. Use them as part of your Christmas mission. You may be surprised that even regular churchgoers will not score 100%.
The Village Advent Calendar
This is no ordinary Advent Calendar. Each day a different poster will appear on display somewhere in the village. Each one will have a different picture and a different Bible verse. The challenge is to track them down! The posters are available free from Rural Mission Solutions. We will send you the pdf; simply print them off in either A4 or A3 size. Try to get families enrolled and, if you have a village school, get them taking part.
Ideal display sites will include church noticeboards, council noticeboards, shop windows, pub windows. If you can't find 24 sites, find as many as you can. Ask neighbours and friends, not just church members. Don't use a site on two consecutive days.
We provide "Tracker forms" so people can keep a record of the posters they located. You could give a prize or prizes for the most successful.
The Bible texts cover the Christmas story from Genesis to the Magi (wise men). It's a great teaching aid and a lot of fun!
For further details or supplies contact email@example.com
This is a scheme in which small models of Mary and Joseph are taken on a journey around your village or community. It is easy to organise and a lot of fun. Here is all you need to do.
1. Decide what kind of models. They could be knitted, carved, moulded, Papier Mache, or made from Lego. Get your models ready by December 1st.
2. Try to find 24 hosts, or as many as possible. Each host or host family will usually put Mary and Joseph up for a night. They then pass them on to whoever is due to look after them the next day. So, you need to plan their itinerary.
3. You could prepare a journal keeping a record of the date, where they stayed, and anything that took place while they were there (e.g., we had fish and chips for supper, we watched the TV and saw..., it was a cold and wet day, we sang carols, there was a homegroup meeting, etc). The journal then travels on with them.
4. You could appoint volunteers to assist with their onward journey.
5. Some churches produce several model sheep and leave one sheep behind at each home visited. The householders are asked to bring the sheep to church on Christmas Day.
It's lots of fun reading the journal.
From a Christmas Tree to a Cross
This is a great way to link the Christmas story to the account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus - from the crib to the cross.
1. If you have a Christmas tree in your church (or even outside), when the season is over prune or saw off all the branches, leaving you with an upright (you might want to trim off the very top part) and a pair of cross branches. If necessary, strengthen these with wire coiled around the branches. If possible, leave enough needles so that it is obvious what it is.
2. Store it out of sight or well to one side.
3. Bring it out again towards the end of Lent.
4. For Good Friday, put it on display with a crown of thorns (barbed wire would do), a red cloth draped around it, and, if possible, a couple of roman helmets (try your local toy store or fancy dress).
5. For Easter morning, prepare some wire netting to go up and across the remaining branches, using this to hold Oasis. Put a bucket of cut flowers (plenty of white, yellow, and gold) and a pair of scissors beside the cross, so that people can take part in decorating the cross into a glorious flower display signifying new life. You might need to start this off with a few flowers. It is best if there is still some evidence that it used to be a Christmas tree. Have it on display at the front of the church or even outside if it was a large tree.
5. Tell the story from the crib to a cross - the baby born to die.
Making a large Display or tableau
Do you have somewhere in the village where you could build a tableau? Ideally this looks good outside a church or chapel.
If you have people in your church who are artistic, you can ask them to make the figures. Try to make them life size (aim at 6ft high if possible). Whatever you make them from will need strengthening with timber (use PVS glue). You could have a couple of shepherds, and Mary and Joseph on either side of the cross. You could add a sheep (though there is no mention that the shepherds brough sheep to the place where Jesus was born). You could add wise men - usually portrayed as kings (though these did not arrive until later). Have it either flood lit or back lit if possible. You could add the figures over a few days to stimulate interest.
If you lack artistic talent, ready-made figures are available online.
A similar idea if you have a resident artist is to put up a sheet of hardboard 8x4 (landscape). Paint it white. Gradually build up the scene, using household paints and brushes, over several days. It will be sure to draw a crowd.
Miscellaneous (Click the red links below)
For an excellent source of Christmas posters, flyers, cars and more (many can be overprinted with your local details), look no further than Christian Publicity and Outreach.
Remember to add the address of Christianity.Org.Uk on anything you print, such as carol sheets, church information, Christmas cards etc. This is a great website for people who are not-yet Christians. Add www.christianity.org.uk to any printed material and on your digital projection.
We are always on the lookout for good resources suitable for use in a rural context. If you have any suggestions please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org