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November 30, 2009

The Three Threes

How to play Santa and make disciples this Christmas season


Playing Santa is fun. It's also very Christ-like. But please don't confuse—I'm not putting Jesus and Santa on a level playing field. By "playing Santa" I mean giving to and caring for those who are struggling financially, relationally, and/or emotionally.

One of the people groups most unnoticed and overlooked by the church are singles—especially single moms. Many of them are struggling. Churches tend to be built for, governed by, and have created environments for husbands and wives with children. Because of this, we often fail to spot the needs of single parents.

This Christmas, your small group can reach out to this wonderful group of dedicated parents, and in so doing your group members will grow spiritually, I promise. You need a plan? I've got one you might consider. It's what I call "The Three Threes."

The First Three: Make your small group aware of the need

  1. Engage your group in a Bible study focused on charity.

  2. At the end of the study, secure a commitment from the group to adopt a single mom and her kids during the Christmas season.

  3. Share with the group that you would like to do this together, and what will be expected of the group (see below).

The Second Three: Organize for Accomplishment

  1. Ask someone in the group with the gift of administration to spearhead this endeavor.

  2. Ask someone in the group with the gift of mercy to locate a single mom with kids. Ask her/him to communicate with the single mom and get that individual to agree to allow the group to help. They should also get the name and address of that single mom to the person organizing this project.

  3. Ask these two leaders to bring back a date or dates this ministry will take place, and what the group will do for the single mom and her children. A few ideas:

    —Close to Christmas, line up a massage for the mom. While she's gone, babysit the kids, decorate the house for Christmas, and bring gifts for mom and kids to go under the Christmas tree.

    —Part of the group takes the kids to a Christmas movie while mom has a night out. Purchase and deliver gifts the week of Christmas for mom and kids to open on Christmas day.

    —Deliver gifts and food for Christmas day to the household on Christmas Eve.

The Third Three: Be Jesus Even When It's Not Christmas

  1. Ask the individual in your group who lined up this relationship (the group member with the gift of mercy) to continue to connect with the single mom.

  2. At various times throughout the year, group members can babysit the kids so mom can have some time to herself, go grocery shopping, or go on a date.

  3. When the single mom needs her oil changed, has a plumbing problem, and so on, see if someone in the group can help her out.

Acts of kindness often lead to conversations about the Jesus of Christmas. Wouldn't it be fantastic if, in time, this individual chose to be a follower of Christ, become part of the group, and connect with your church? She would never feel completely alone again.

But please remember that these individuals are not your projects—they are your new friends. A friend of mine, Discipleship Pastor Randy Miller from Northwood Church in Keller, Texas, reminded attendees at a conference last month that we should help people simply because it is the right thing to do. His very missional church says to people they are assisting, "We don't help you so that you will be converted. We help you because we are converted."

posted by Sam O'Neal on November 30, 2009 10:06 AM

Related Tags: Christmas, Service


Very helpful and timely reminder. However, while it may seem like semantics, I would encourage the language of "justice/mercy" rather than "charity." I think the concept of justice speaks more deeply, comprehensively, and long term than the idea of charity.

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