EPISODE #64 – COVID CHRISTMAS OUTREACH
Don’t let COVID crash your Christmas plans! Today the guys break down some ways they are considering busting through the COVID19 Blues and making the best of what can be done for outreach at Christmas time. Check this one out for some hope, help and encouragement and of course a few laughs!
How can you make the best of the Covid regulations?
- Take your context into account-do what you can do, don’t get depressed by what others can do
- Get creative – but know your limitations
- Do something rather than doing nothing
- Consider singing/caroling for those who are homebound
- You might try a Christmas “Adam” service (the day before Christmas Eve)
But what if you can’t do anything at all? Like no public gathering, no public events etc.
- Make phone calls to people who are part of your church family
- Write notes-hand written cards mean a lot. Check out the felt app
- Consider helping or serving at shelters
You might just have to dust off something that seems like it won’t work, something from the past. We encourage you to try something. Take your five loaves and two fish and give it to God and see what he will make of it.
Make your Christmas a lot merrier by getting yourself a new church website! Our great sponsors at one eighty digital can hook you up! Tell them the Bootcamp boys sent you.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are Bob and I am live from my unbelievably glorious and luxurious garage office.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:10] Yes. I see that , the field of views, a little tighter, you’ve got. A whiteboard with a lot of writing and you’ve got some , real books and some fake books behind you. And most importantly, you have the replant bootcamp, coffee mug
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:25] That’s right.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:26] on your bookcase.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:28] And if you look right behind the replant bootcamp, coffee mug is the battle of the boots, LSU, Arkansas trophy. Just to remind you of LSUS one meaningful victory all season this year.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:46] Well, Jimbo it’s burned on my soul that you guys beat us. And, uh, we fell apart right at the last, but, you know, as we talked about in the previous boot bootcamp podcast, it was a good game
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:58] It was.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:59] ,an Arkansas lost by a field goal. The last second field goal to Missouri this year. Just on Saturday.
And so my heart was once again, pierced with a pain that only a Razorback fan feels every stinking year.
JimBo Stewart: [00:01:14] Well, I don’t even want to talk about the Alabama LSU game. it was a live beating in massacre of the LSU football team on set. It was really painful. It was ugly.
Bob Bickford: [00:01:27] Did you guys get beat? Like you stole something Jimbo.
JimBo Stewart: [00:01:30] We did, we did it. It was really, really bad , it was a rough rough game, but , here’s hoping to next season and at least I get to hold onto the boot trophy for another year.
Bob Bickford: [00:01:42] Yeah. I hope so. Hope you do too.
JimBo Stewart: [00:01:45] Yeah. All right. So for this episode, Bob, I thought it would be fun for us to talk about Christmas , just a few weeks away. And so I know guys all over the country are really trying to figure out, uh, what does Christmas outreach look like right now? What does that look like in the season of COVID to , To do things.
Cause I know there are a lot of things that we would normally do, but kinda like Easter hit us and other things have hit us. It seems like almost every three idea you may want to try, gets hammered somehow by COVID regulations or just the limitations that everything that has COVID has brought bring you.
And so I was on the cohort with. Brian Croft and Kyle Bierman that happens with Nam on Mondays. And we were talking about that a little bit there, on Monday and one guy said he’s in Hawaii and he’s not even allowed to sing outside. and so even doing carols , was not an option for him. and all three of us, basically me, Brian Croft, and we’re an all kind of said.
I don’t really know how to help you with that. I’m not really sure what, what to tell you. Uh, I think Croft even just said, you know, we might even just go civil disobedience on that one and just go ahead and sing some carols.
Bob Bickford: [00:03:01] Yes, the lawyers in our, uh, for the replant bootcamp podcast would not want us to encourage civil disobedience. So, um, that came from Brian Croft who is not employed by the bootcamp or the replant team of the North American mission.
JimBo Stewart: [00:03:15] Right. Practical shepherding trench talk podcast. Great resources. If you’re going to Sue anybody, Sue them.
Bob Bickford: [00:03:22] Louisville Kentucky. Yes, no man. Seriously, like every time I pull up a stink and headline, it says this politician , this elected official says, cancel Christmas. Like, don’t go to grandmas, you know, don’t do all the normal things that you would do for Christmas, like all around our city. And again, we realize it depends on your context.
So I live in the very Baloo part of Missouri where a very, fluent and liberal, highly educated, populous believes that the government always knows best. And everything that the government tells us to do, we should do, because if we don’t COVID is going to get us. And there’s a mentality that every single municipality, every particular context has.
And so it’s not uncommon for us to get in the car and drive 45 minutes, maybe an hour outside of our city and see that people are completely approaching. COVID and church and gatherings in a totally different way. So a lot of guys are listening to us. They may be in an open free society, just like you are in the wild West there in Jacksonville, Florida in Duvall County, yes.
Where, where, you know, basically you guys are drinking COVID because you don’t care about it. And somehow the up the chicken sandwiches in the swamp water and on the mosquitoes and everything kills COVID so you guys, don’t got to worry about it, but I’m here. I think we’re pretty much afraid to go outside and say hello to somebody.
If we don’t have a suit on like a hazmat bubble boy suit Jim Jimbo. So it completely changes the game for us in terms of what we thinking about outreach.
JimBo Stewart: [00:05:23] I think the whole thing is like a great setup for a national hallmark movie. I mean, this is a moment that where we could, we could take hallmark movies to a whole nother level where all the evil government officials tell you to cancel Christmas. But then all of a sudden we find out that Mark Clifton is actually Santa Claus
Bob Bickford: [00:05:42] Yeah. And he somehow wrote him on a fire engine with a band Joe and saved Christmas for a little town, which he actually did in Linwood, Kansas. Mark is a replanting, a church and he was funny. He said, I guess the governor of Kansas. Issued a mask mandate and the County in which his church resides, voted to not follow the governor’s guidance.
On COVID. And so at present, they had no restrictions. And so they had this big, giant Christmas blowout with our good friends chosen road. And, Lou Lou from, he hall was there and Santa Claus and the Kansas city Wolf and all of those sorts of things. And, To do a segue here. We were talking with Mark on a, on a call with the replant guys, and he was challenging us to think differently and creatively about how we might do Christmas.
Acknowledging that the situation he found himself in Linwood was completely different than the majority of us were facing. So our colleague Kyle Bierman, who is a pastor in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Uh, they are experiencing lockdown. And so Kyle’s dealing with some, some challenges we’re dealing with some challenges.
So we got to really think outside the box. So here’s, here’s what we’re thinking, Jimbo. And then, I’d love to kind of hear maybe some other thoughts that you have. Cause you’re a real creative and resourceful guy. , here’s our thought. We know that we have families who want to come to Christmas Eve and we did a survey, we put it out there, actually put it on our online bulletin and we’ve got about half of our folks have filled out that survey and we simply said, are you in town?
And would you be up for a Christmas Eve service? And then if so, what kind? I didn’t. And we thought, okay, well, one is the in-person Christmas Eve service, but the challenge with that is you usually do carols together. It’s a very song oriented service. It’s not fun to sing with a face mask on and. You want to have candles.
And sometimes we do Christmas cookies, so we can’t do Christmas cookies. And the other thing too is you want to bring relatives and kids, and it’s not getting everybody all in type service. So we typically have a pretty large crowd and that would absolutely blow past our 25% capacity, , of attendance, like with kids and grandmas and et cetera.
So we thought, well, one option would be. , let’s get an FM transmitter and let’s go out on the back and let’s have people do a drive in Christmas service and we’ll get our worship leader out there. We’ll get us a stage, we’ll get a projection screen and we’ll do some songs and we’ll sing. And, uh, and we’ll have a time of Christmas Eve, you know, that way.
And so a number of our folks, just over half of our folks who responded to the survey said they would probably, they would be up for that. some folks that they wouldn’t want to come inside and then they always have the diehards here. Like I’m coming inside. It’s Christmas. Let’s go. let’s you know, so what we’re thinking about doing is holding a drive in Christmas Eve service in our parking lot, brief, you know, 30 minutes songs, some fun stuff.
Now the challenge is. We’ve got a lot of young families. And so, you know how it is to have little kids in the car, right. And that can be a challenge. And so one of the things we’re trying to figure out is how do we make it fast enough and, and activity oriented enough where, uh, kids and families don’t hate each other on Christmas day when they spend 30 minutes with each other in a car, having spent nine months with each other in home learning , and being cooped up.
So, uh, in our municipality. That’s what we’re thinking about right now.
JimBo Stewart: [00:09:31] I know you talk about caliber, everyone. I know that even that would be a struggle for him. I talked with him about it. And in New Mexico, they’re only allowed to have 10 vehicles at an outside of event. Um, I, I’m not sure what, what the thinking is there or why that restriction would exist. But here in Jacksonville, where we have far less restrictions, we’re able to really do a lot more.
And so some of the things that our church has considered is doing some carols, going to shut-ins particularly and standing in the front yard, socially distant from each other and singing carols from the front yard, just to bless people. with, with that. And I think that’s something that our church would normally do, whether there’s a pandemic or not.
And so that one, I think, is a safe one, unless you’re in Hawaii and not allowed to sing out loud, ever anywhere, which I don’t really know what to do with that. Then that’s a safe, alternative. It’s something that you can do. Our sanctuary sits around 350, and so we could pretty easily have a hundred or so in, in the sanctuary.
And they are planning to do a Christmas Eve, Eve or Christmas. Adam service because Adam is the day before Christmas Eve. And that’s typically what our church has done is done. Not Christmas Eve, but Christmas Adam, because Christmas Eve, we want to. Leave for families to do whatever it is that they are going to do.
It allows us to still do something around that time, but especially this year and last year, Christmas Adam falls on a Wednesday, which makes it kind of in the natural church rhythm. Anyway, at that service we’ll do Lord’s supper sing some songs, some carols together, but we’re able to do that. Not everybody is able to do that.
And so I liked the idea of thinking through an FM transmitter or something like that, but. I was trying to think earlier today, what would I do if I were not allowed to do any of those things and you know me well enough Bob, to know that I’m not going to do nothing, that’s not going to happen. I’m going to figure it out a way to do something.
And so some ideas that immediately came to my mind that I thought could at least be starting points is at the very least. So just, I mean, with, I thought even let’s. Go to our friend, Howard Burkhart in California, completely locked down, really not even supposed to leave the house. Then I would make a list of, especially shut-ins and single people and just make a whole bunch of phone calls, man.
And I mean, spend a spend a couple of days just calling people, having conversations, encouraging them. I would not attempt to sing anything to them over the phone because I’m. Because I’m tone deaf, but my wife might, would sing something. And I know for some of our senior adults, it would bless them. If my wife were to sing a short Christmas Carol or him even over the phone and they might sing along and just some way to connect over the holidays, handwritten cards, I’ve often talked about the felt cards app.
And that I use on my iPad. Just sending those finding just any possible way to make a connection, create little gift bags, with, you know, uh, candy cane and a nice note or something like that. Put it on people’s door. Knob on their front door with gloves on and sanitized and all the things, but there’s, there’s some way, there’s some way you can make some connections.
You could reach out to your local homeless shelter and just ask, Hey, what. What is something I could do to help you guys right now, because imagine how difficult it must be for, for homeless shelters to try to figure out how to serve the population right now. W it’s it’s always hard in the winter for homeless shelters, always, but imagine having such limited capacity now and having to have people socially distant, and from what I have talked with our shelters, they have to have at least one.
Empty room in case they need to quarantine something body, and somebody shows up with symptoms which also limits their capacity. And so there might be some way where you could go with a mask on and gloves and help serve a meal or something. There. There are ways, but you’re just going to have to think outside of the box, I, Mark was saying, you’re going to have to figure out.
And obviously there are a lot of things that are gonna dictate what those things can be. Your government regulations, your context, even your weather. Uh, I can get away with a lot of things. Weather-wise here in Florida, that some people were not going to be able to in other places. And so I. I dunno, man, I’ll be honest.
This is one that’s really difficult. It’s hard for me. I don’t like restrictions. I don’t like being restricted in any way. and so this has been difficult. I know one thing we haven’t made a final decision, but we’re considering as a family we have for the last three or four years, every Christmas gotten a inflatable screen and put it in our front yard.
There’s a huge parking lot across the street from our house. And we get word out to our neighbors using like the next door app and some other things like that. And we’ll do a movie night like Charlie Brown, Christmas movie, and play that have some popcorn, some hot cocoa figured out ways to do that. We don’t know.
We don’t know if we’re still going to do that. I hope we are. We’re trying to figure out the most responsible way to handle that. Um, but. I’ll say this to our listeners, guys just know that we’re with you. We feel it. We feel the difficulty that you’re going through, trying to figure out how to respond to everything going on and our encouragement to you more than anything would be don’t do nothing, uh, figure out how to do something and take your five loaves and two fish.
And give them to the Lord and see how he feeds the people. Um, Y you never know what the Lord might do with a small little touch doing something on Facebook live or something, but there’s, there’s so many opportunities, so many ways if you’ll just not let the obstacles stop you, but you will think through creatively, How do I get there?
How do I get something done? What are the five loaves and two fish? I can hand to Jesus in the season.
Bob Bickford: [00:16:06] Yeah, I agree. , I think that, obviously we’re not dealing with a lot of lead time. And so some of us, in terms of pulling stuff off a little bit resource and leadership challenge, and also here’s the deal, As much as we want to do something, Christmas Eve is usually a family oriented night.
And so there that, that diminishes our leadership group as well. So this, you know, we’re, we’ve talked about the liver line before. And so this might be one of those things where you gotta, you gotta be here at the end of the liver line when you’re a leader and you gotta take one for the team. Uh, so I just want to encourage guys to evaluate that, think through that.
How, how would. We approach it if, um, You know, or how are we going to approach it since things are so limited and what we’re, what can we do? And I would say you might have to push back on your biases as well. Uh, this is the time for things to come back in, into the realm of possibility that maybe you dismissed.
Let me, let me share a story. I was a youth pastor became a youth pastor at 125 year old church that acted its age down at deep South Texas. And I mean, Our robes handbells pipe organ. It was, it was, you know, the whole deal. And that was just not who I was. And so I was always bucking the system. Well, Jimbo, they used to have this thing called the live nativity, the living Christmas nativity.
That’s where, you know, you get everybody in a bathrobe in front of the scene and you find some farmer and you rent camels and sheep and all that kind of stuff. So I roll in there and it’s, um, I guess it’s March, maybe when we moved down there. And so everybody’s talking about the living nativity and Oh, what a giant beating it is.
And, and a couple of years ago, the camel ran off and we had to chase it downtown. And one of the sheep was sick and we had to put white men in its eye and it bit somebody, and it was uncharacteristically called down in Corpus Christi. And it was like, you know, the thirties. And so the, the. Angelic choir was freezing and it rained and, you know, on and on and on where everybody was complaining about the living Christmas nativity, where everybody drives through in their car and they get a cassette tape or something back in the day, you know, and it tells us a story.
And I just asked the question, like any good, you know, youth pastor would ask, well, why are we doing it? If everybody hates doing it?
And it’s like, you should’ve seen the look on their faces. Like they, nobody had, it’s like either I rip the Bible up in front of them or committed blasphemy in some way, they’d never thought to ask, well, if we hate it so much, why are we doing it? And so, you know what Jimbo, you know, what happened that year?
JimBo Stewart: [00:18:42] What
Bob Bickford: [00:18:43] I killed the Christmas nativity, the drive-through nativity just by asking the question. Well, if we all hate it, And nobody wants to do it. Why are we doing it?
JimBo Stewart: [00:18:54] you’re just like those politicians telling us we gotta cancel Christmas.
Bob Bickford: [00:18:58] yeah, it was meat, but it was something that if everybody was honest, it was like, I chased the no Campbell down the, down the downtown streets.
And I don’t want to get bit by a sheep. Right. I was like, well, it lets us not do it. Right. And so, uh, we didn’t do it the whole tenure that I was there in, in time of youth ministry. But you know what, Jim, both, you know, what happened a couple of years ago, they brought back the living Christmas, nativity, the drive through nativity.
And, um, this is one of those years where it makes a lot of sense, right? Where it just makes sense to like, maybe knock yourself out a little bit and do something that that’s a method that conveys a message in a time like this. Like think, you know, one of the things that we need to think about. Yeah. And this was asked, and I don’t know if this made a podcast or not, but there’s a chapter in the end or a couple of pages at the end of a book called the trellis and the vine that says.
Hey, imagine that your church’s dealing with a flu pandemic and you can’t meet in person. You can’t do anything like that. Do you use to do, what are you going to do? And they’re talking about discipleship and discipling and missional impact and those sorts of things. This is kind of really one of those times, right?
And so I guess what we might say is you probably, we should examine some things that maybe you let go of awhile back, or maybe that you, you, your church used to do that you think might not work and. And, uh, I think that we might go back in this year at least and recover some of those things that seem cheesy to us, or seem kind of campy that, um, that we might avoid.
And, and I’ll say this, you know, um, one of the, one of the favorite, what was one of your favorite toys that you had at Christmas Kimble? And I’m going somewhere with this, but like when you were a kid like me and this was my favorite Christmas toy, can you give me an example of what that might’ve been.
JimBo Stewart: [00:20:58] a toy train would have been probably my favorite.
Bob Bickford: [00:21:02] Okay. All right. Did you get a toy and you got one of those one time, maybe
JimBo Stewart: [00:21:05] no, I always asked for one, but I never got one.
Bob Bickford: [00:21:11] I brought up some Christmas trauma. Hey, we gotta, we gotta listener out there. Who can get Jimbo, a toy train for Christmas, please come through.
JimBo Stewart: [00:21:18] It’s too late. It’s too late.
Bob Bickford: [00:21:23] All right. So Jimbo, one of my favorite Christmas stories of all time was the evil Knievel stunt cycle.
JimBo Stewart: [00:21:30] Yeah.
Bob Bickford: [00:21:31] And so this, you get this like wirey, evil Knievel figure, kind of like a Gumby. And you put this, put this little winery, figure on a, uh, plastic motorcycle that goes on a base and you crank it up. I’ll put a video on, uh, on, on our, um, a video link on our podcast notes.
How does my favorite man, and that took me back. And so, you know what, Jimbo, I saw one of those on Facebook the other day, and guess who ordered him an evil Knievel one cycle? This guy I sure did. And I got it out and fired it up and I played with it and it was a lot of fun and it took me back and it was a lot of fun.
And so I know we’re all in this season of being progressive and, you know, All of these new ways to do ministry and online and maybe online is the right thing for us to do, but don’t overlook something that in the heart of someone in the mind of someone might take them back to a simpler time where we could do something that could convey the meaning of Christmas in a real meaningful way.
And so I just wanna encourage you guys think about it. Don’t dismiss it right out of hand, get busy. Cause we just got a couple of weeks here to get guys and ladies aligned and people aligned to pull something off, but give it a shot and you know, if it works great. And if it doesn’t chalk it up to a Hey try and was better than not trying.
And we tried something and we learned a lot of lessons along the way, but most importantly, whatever you do. Communicate the message of Christmas and the message of Christmas is the hope that we have because Christ came into the world is set us free from our sins and to, and to save us and restore us to God.
So, man, I hope, I hope we’ve encouraged you guys. Uh, there’s a lot that we can’t do, but I think there’s a few things that we could do.
JimBo Stewart: [00:23:18] Yeah, I wouldn’t do anything just to do something, but I would make sure that I, that we do more than nothing. And the very first step may be getting with your leaders and just taking some time to pray and ask the Lord, what is it that he would have you do? And what I hear you say in Bob is don’t diminish.
Any idea that might somehow impact someone with the true message of Christ advent Christ coming to earth in tabernacle Tavern, tabernacle in amongst his people and what a, what a beautiful, incredible moment in history, that is in a S in a message of hope. When everybody needs hope right now, everybody is looking for hope and we need to somehow.
Get that word out there. And so don’t sit in your feelings and just get so frustrated that you end up not doing anything. Don’t just get really busy, just so that you could say that you did something really seek what the Lord would have for you to do, be willing to think outside of ways that you would normally think and allow the Lord to use you.
And know that nothing you do for the Lord is in vain. I love, I hear Mark Clifton, say it all the time. Every visit every phone call. Every time you share the gospel, every time you preach, every everything you do for the Lord, the Lord will use that somehow. And so it may feel like a five loaves and two fish, but hand it to the Lord and let him do that.