Operation Christmas Child: Ideas for your church

August 10, 2018

Ideas for your church as you pack shoeboxes and participate in Operation Christmas Child.

Step 1: Get ready!

Order shoeboxes, brochures, and promotional items from SamaritansPurse.ca

Step 2: Get set!

Share with your group how to pack shoeboxes and inspire them by watching inspiring videos and reading powerful impact stories.

Step 3: GO pack!

Set a goal for your group, pack boxes, and pray for each recipient child.

Step 4: encourage

Encourage your group to include a minimum donation of $10 for each shoebox you prepare to help cover project costs–including shipping.

Step 5: collect

Collect the packed shoeboxes, deliver them to a drop-off location and thank your group for helping to share the true meaning of Christmas-Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift.

National Collection Week is November 12—18, 2018

Start with prayer

Prayer is the cornerstone of Operation Christmas Child, and you are encouraged to make prayer the foundation of all your planning and Operation Christmas Child activities

Set a goal

  • Have the church (and/or each group) set a goal for the number of children you want to reach
  • Create a visual indicator as to how close you are to the goal (eg. a thermometer)
  • Count each box toward the goal. (i.e. “We have now collected 68 of 100 boxes!”)

Organize a launch event at church

  • Have a Sunday to launch Operation Christmas Child at your church
  • Show an Operation Christmas Child video
  • Challenge your congregation or group with your goal
  • Provide details about when and where to drop off gift-filled shoeboxes
  • Cast the vision for making Operation Christmas Child a missions opportunity for the entire congregation (encourage joint efforts if there are multiple groups in the church participating separately)
  • Have empty shoeboxes with brochures placed inside, available at the church

Establish a Shoebox Dedication Sunday

Many churches have dedication services for the shoebox gifts. Here are some ideas:

  • As people enter the sanctuary, have children carry the gifts to the front of the church
  • Build a tree out of the shoebox gifts to show how many were collected
  • Have one girl and one boy come up and pray over the gifts during the service
  • Have the children put the shoebox gifts into the cartons
  • Work with your pastor to have the message be about giving to the poor, fulfilling the Great Commission, and other lessons on showing the love of Christ to the world
  • Have the congregation dedicate their shoebox gifts by praying that the children and families who receive them would come to know Jesus

Connect with home groups

  • Connect with home group leaders about Operation Christmas Child as an opportunity to invite neighbors who may not normally come to a “Bible study” group
  • Give personal invitations wherever possible, or create a door-hanger invitation which includes a brief explanation of Operation Christmas Child and a list of appropriate shoebox items
  • Create an engaging “Christmas party” atmosphere

Organize an Operation Christmas Child Fair

  • Rent bounce houses, set up carnival games/crafts, have food donated, and invite the community to come
  • Make the entrance fee a shoebox gift
  • Have Operation Christmas Child theme games such as tossing the bean bag in the shoebox, shoe box packing relays, etc.

Encourage an Item Of The Month campaign

Use your Vacation Bible School

  • VBS is an excellent time to collect shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child: have the children bring a different item each day and then assemble the gifts at the end of the week
  • Host poster, banner, or flag-making contests with an Operation Christmas Child theme
  • Create a friendly competition where the class that collects the most shoebox gifts wins an ice cream party or other prize
  • Each child can fill out and color a Let’s Be Friends! page to include in his or her shoebox

Make an Operation Christmas Child Tree

  • Prepare labels with the gender and age group already marked
  • Hang the labels on the tree for people to take
  • As the boxes are turned back in, they can be placed under the tree

Include photos, cards and letters:

  • Encourage people to put pictures, cards and letters to the children in their shoebox gifts. Children who receive them love the personal connection with the person who sent their gift. Create cards for the children to enclose with the gifts
  • Have children paint their handprint on a card. It will read, “This is my hand. When you place your hand on mine, think about me. I prayed for you to receive this box.”

Promote Operation Christmas Child at missions fairs/conferences

  • Host an Operation Christmas Child booth at the annual church missions fair
  • Promote Operation Christmas Child at district or area meetings of your denomination or church association
  • Tie in Operation Christmas Child with a church’s annual missions week/conference or with their annual poverty awareness event

Include Operation Christmas Child in musicals/skits

  • Incorporate Operation Christmas Child into your worship service through music
  • Song-writing contests with a theme such as “The greatest gift of all”
  • Create an original skit with a Christmas/Operation Christmas Child theme

Share testimonies

When promoting Operation Christmas Child from the pulpit, it is effective to share spiritual impact stories

Make Operation Christmas Child a family activity

  • Encourage moms and dads to participate with their sons and daughters in this hands-on mission project
  • Take a special family shopping trip
  • Serve at an Operation Christmas Child Processing Center (for those 14 and older in Calgary)
  • Host a packing party with other families

Encourage “In Honor or Memory” shoeboxes

  • Have a program in your church to pack a shoebox in honor or memory of someone
  • Create a card that would be filled out in the person’s honor or memory and then place the card in the shoebox
  • Send a card to the person you are honoring
  • Instead of giving Christmas gifts to family members, fill a shoebox gift in their honor or in memory of someone

Involve those who are housebound

If there are housebound members in your church who want to participate, but cannot get out or would have trouble assembling a shoebox gift themselves, have them donate money for shoebox gifts so youth in the church can go out in groups and buy items to fill the boxes, or have a packing party with children, youth, and seniors.

Hold wrapping events

  • Have Sunday school classes, senior groups, etc., start collecting and wrapping or coloring empty shoebox gifts
  • These wrapped/colored shoeboxes can be handed out when your church launches Operation Christmas Child

Hold “Christmas In July” or “Half-way to Christmas” Parties

  • Hold a summer shoebox packing party as a great activity for children during summer break
  • Take advantage of the ‘back to school’ and end of summer sales to find quality, discount shoebox items