Carol Services are for life not just for Christmas
OK, I’m not suggesting that we should start singing “O little town of Bethlehem” all year round. But a really good CU carol service can have an impact which lasts long after the turkey has finally all been eaten and the tree has gone back in the loft.
Let me explain. For lots of reasons, our friends are more likely to come to a CU event at Christmas than at any other point during the year. Maybe Christmas represents something reassuring and familiar in an ever-changing world, or maybe it’s just the excuse to have a good old sing-song. Whatever the reason, thousands of our friends will go along to a carol service this year. And for lots of them it will be the first step in finding out about Jesus for themselves. So although October feels a bit early to be talking shepherds and wise men, start planning now so you can make the most of it!
For starters, your carol service is an ideal way to use Uncover, because that’s where Luke starts – Christmas! Ask your speaker to talk about Jesus using a passage from Luke’s Gospel. At the end of the carol service give everyone an Uncover Gospel as a Christmas present, then it’s down to CU members to invite their friends to read it with them. Try to get this started before the Christmas holiday, and remember to pick it up again next term.
If you’re planning a mission week for the spring, then a carol service is a great taster. Try to get your mission speaker to speak at your carol service too. Then when your mission comes around, you’ll be inviting your friends to hear someone they already know.
And Christmas is a great time to share British culture with our international friends, and to explain who Jesus is while we do it. So make a point of inviting them! You could even think about having a meal for international students before you all go to the carol service together. And why not bring an international flavour to proceedings? Christmas songs from other cultures or bilingual Bible readings are a great reminder that Jesus is “good news… for all the people” (Luke 2:10)
Some Top Tips…
Tell the Story – no matter how well you know it, your friend might not. Choose readings and carols that fit together to tell the Christmas story.
Keep it traditional – for most of our friends, Christmas is all about tradition. It helps people to feel comfortable and welcome. So choose carols and tunes everyone knows, no matter how great that new song is. And instead of using a projector, print lyrics and readings on a well-produced service sheet people can take home.
Deck the halls – atmosphere is everything, especially if you end up in a lecture theatre. So go all out on the fairy lights and tinsel. Or get creative with lots of festive greenery (available for free in a garden near you!).
Get others involved - lots of musical societies on your campus will love the chance to belt out their Christmas repertoire.
Serve up some Christmas cheer - Mince pies and gingerbread, hot chocolate, or maybe even a glass of mulled wine are the perfect way to end a carol service as you send people on their merry way.
Gareth Leaney is a Christian Union Staff Worker in the South East Region