Your First Christmas as a New Believer

You’ve given your life to Christ this year—congratulations! Angels in heaven were rejoicing the very moment you decided to make Jesus your Lord and Savior and the center of your new life. Nothing makes God happier than seeing someone give their heart to him.

Image of Scripture about Christmas, John 1:14 from the New Living Translation: "So the word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only son."

You know that Christmas is a very important time of year for Christians; it’s one of great celebration and joy! But if this is your first year as a Christian yourself, you may be wondering what happens, or how you are to respond to all the festivities.

  • Am I allowed to go out partying with friends?
  • Is Santa Claus still okay, or should I stop talking about him to the kids?
  • How do I keep Christ at the center of the celebration?

Image of the nativity made in wood, with Mary, Joseph and Jesus Christ in a stable surrounded by gifts and animals. A traditional image of Christmas as we celebrate as new believers.

These may seem like slightly silly questions, but they are just a few that may go through a new believer’s mind, and that is perfectly okay! Around here, there is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to Christianity and your new life in Christ.

What will happen at my church, and what should I do?

A wintery church in the snow. Church attendance at Christmas is of vital importance to all Christians.

You have an exciting season ahead at your church—it’s one of the most joyful and beautiful times of the year, and you get to be a big part of that! Your church may hold an array of services for Christmas. Sometimes, all of the services will be the same, or sometimes they will vary for different celebrations or ages. For example, there might be a special nativity service for families, including children. You may find that some churches put on Christmas productions and others like a traditional Christmas service, or a midnight mass—this will all depend upon your church and denomination. Your pastor and ministry leaders will help guide you and inform you regarding your church’s plans for the season.

An image of rows of children holdings candles at a Christmas church service.

You may be invited to volunteer during Christmas services. Almost all churches see a higher number of visitors at Christmas, so there is generally a need for extra volunteers to meet and greet new visitors or help with set up and tear down, on the production side, or in children’s ministry. There are likely to be many opportunities to use your skills in some way around the church, and you will be wholeheartedly welcomed to participate.

There may even be opportunities to volunteer as a family—perhaps you can start a new Christmas tradition?

A close up of red and white Christmas decorations on a green Christmas tree. As a new believer, it's okay to hang your regular Christmas decorations.

But here is an important note about this season; you should attend a service. As a new believer, the story of Christ’s birth will likely sound familiar, and yet it will sound so fresh and new. You get to experience this miraculous wonder through brand-new eyes, with a new heart, and you’ll be amazed by how deeply moving it is this time. The nativity is no longer a nice story, it’s a true celebration of God’s love for us!

Should I be doing anything different at home this year?

While things do not have to look vastly different at home, there are some things you could try to ensure that Jesus is at the center of your celebrations. Feel free to put up those decorations as you normally would, listen to Christmas songs, buy gifts for loved ones, and attend all those parties you want to go to—there is no reason to change that!

People fill up a space in a bar as they dance, chat and drink together. Celebrating with Christmas outings, parties and work parties is perfectly okay as a new believer in Jesus.

What could be different, however, is the thanks and praise you offer to God during the holiday season. Our own abundance in the Christmas season can sometimes get lost in the hubbub of baking, shopping, parties, school activities, gift lists, et cetera. With a humble heart, thank God for the many blessings you have received throughout the year, and be sure to take note of all the ways in which you have received rich blessings during Christmas.

Perhaps you could volunteer your family to serve in a homeless shelter one evening or take part in a church ministry that gives help to those in need. Sometimes we all need a reminder that we are thoroughly blessed. Giving time to others can prompt us to be grateful for all that we get to enjoy or even take for granted.

A mother reads to her two young children from a tablet, as they sit on a couch at Christmas. Reading the story of Jesus' arrival on Earth is a good way to reflect each year on this integral part of being a Christian.

Take some time to read the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible. Read it as a family or make it part of your quiet time. Use some time to reflect anew upon the story and share how things are different for you this year. Pray that God will teach you something new and fresh through this season.

If you have kids, use this time as an opportunity to teach them about giving and not just receiving. While it’s lovely to receive gifts on Christmas day, it’s important to understand the reason for this special time. Explain how Jesus sacrificially gave to us, so that we might have eternal life. You could then encourage your kids to go through their clothes and toys, choosing ones in good shape to donate to someone else who needs them. Explain how blessed they are, and how we can all bring Jesus’s light to earth through sacrificial giving.

A young child in colorful stockings sits on a blanket and plays alongside a wooden toy with blocks in various shapes. Children should be taught about giving, as Jesus gave to us, as well as receiving at Christmas.

Perhaps find an advent book or devotional to go through as a family, such as The Wonder of the Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp. Based on her bestseller Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, Voskamp expands her presentation of the Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree with a beautiful keepsake that can be handed down and enjoyed for generations.

An image of The Wonder of The Greatest Gift book, with a pop-up Jesse Tree and Christmas ornaments.

If you’re unfamiliar with a Jesse Tree, it’s a tradition that started all the way back in medieval times, when the story of Creation through to the birth of Jesus was told using pictures and symbols. Today, families love to get together and retell the stories using tree ornaments, placing one on the tree each day of Advent. Kids love to add the ornaments, and it’s a beautiful way to share these Bible stories with them.

Want more on Advent? Check out this link with resources for reflection during the important Advent season.

What about Santa Claus—do we have to stop telling our kids about him?

As Christians we want to ensure that Jesus is at the center of the season and that he’s the whole reason why we’re celebrating. Santa is a character, not a real person, and it’s wise to keep that in perspective with the real person that Jesus is.

However, it’s not necessary to cut Santa out of Christmas. He is a huge part of Western Christmas tradition, and he is fun to play along with. There’s nothing “un-Christian” about taking the kids to visit Santa at the mall, and it helps create some fun memories with the family!

Reindeer, heavily associated with Santa Claus and a western tradition of Christmas, as pictured in a herd standing in a field with tress behind them. Santa is okay to include in Christmas, as long as Jesus Christ is the most important figure in your celebrations.

You may notice, though, that your church does not include Santa in the celebrations. Many churches do not talk about Santa, and that’s simply because they want to keep the focus solely on Jesus—as it should be!

So remember: attend a church service, give thanks to God for all that you have received this year, and keep Jesus at the center, while blessing others.

Have a wonderful Christmas and may God bless you and your family.

Do you have more questions about Christmas? Email us at unfoldingfaithmail@gmail.com and we may answer them in another post.

Recommended Resources:

For your own personal quiet time: The Wonder of Advent, Chris Tiegreen.

As a family: The Wonder of the Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp.

For very young readers: The Story of Christmas, A Happy Day Book.

For creatives, a coloring devotional: All Is Bright, Nancy Guthrie.

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