The Brunswick church is known for several things in its community—its close connection to the former Parkview Adventist Medical Center, its Adventist Community Services Center, and for being warm and welcoming. During the holiday season, however, the church is known for its moving retelling of the Christmas story through the eyes of Mary, called, “The Greatest Gift.”
Each year some 800 people stream to the church to see one of three services featuring enthusiastic actors, amazing singers, and live music. And, according to Brunswick church pastor Nathan Stearman, the impact on attendees is profound. “It is amazing to see and hear people respond to the story of Christ. Across the age spectrum—grandmas, young families, elementary kids, empty-nesters, teens—people respond with tears and joy. Sometimes we forget just how deeply moving the simple story of Jesus’ coming to earth is, but the telling of this story, especially at the holidays, makes a profound impact.”
“The Greatest Gift” has been life-changing. At least one community member has joined the church as a result of the programs. But Pastor Stearman is quick to point out that the spiritual benefits are not one-sided. “The story of Christ is transformational, and that includes the 50 or so church family and community volunteers who help put on the program. Lives have been dramatically changed by working on this program and sharing the message.”
The Brunswick church approaches “The Greatest Gift” program as an evangelism effort. Accordingly, it has a plan for offering attendees further spiritual engagement. Through a brand-new, follow-up project, attendees are invited to participate in a “12 Days of Christmas” devotion-al journey, that includes connections to additional resources—from print to mentoring.
Everyone who attends has the chance to pick up a copy of Steps to Christ, as well. “We try to be intentional about all of our evangelism efforts,” says Stearman. “ ‘The Greatest Gift’ builds trust in our community and opens the door to all sorts of spiritual conversations that we might not otherwise engage in. In that regard, this unique program is an important part of our expanding disciple-making strategy.”
Editor’s note: Brunswick church’s “The Greatest Gift” has its own website, complete with pictures and interviews with people whose lives have been changed by the message of Christ. You can find the website at www.thegreatestgift.live.