It's that time of year — the time to make my list of presents to buy. I have no trouble with who I want to remember with a gift. I just have trouble knowing what to give. Trying to be helpful, someone suggested I start by remembering the best gifts I ever received and see what they had in common. I thought about it and at first did not see a connection.

I don't remember the gifts, but I do remember how excited I would get when our grown daughter would come over and stay with us at Christmas ... even though she had her own place. I do remember that last year my wife and daughter-in-law gave my son and me the fishing trip of a lifetime. I do remember that one of the couples in our small group has the group over for a fancy dinner every year around Christmas.

Then it dawned on me. What I loved about these gifts was "who" not "what." My best Christmas memories are of family and friends. It is being together to open the gifts. It is the meals together. It is watching the kids, and now the grandkids, playing together. It's seeing my parents and my in-laws watching the fourth generation growing up. That's the part of Christmas I wish could never end.

That is also what I love about being a Christian. It's the people. It's not church buildings, or ministry programs. It is belonging to a family, a community, a fellowship. Programs end and buildings collapse in time. But the people in my church family never end. We are together ... forever.

If you have thought Christmas is just about gifts, you may be disappointed. If you think church is just about the buildings and the programs, you will be disappointed. But if you want to know more about belonging to the family, the community, of believers ... I can help connect you. Write me at Or join our blog at

Family and community are not found in presents or programs ... but in people.

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