How to Maximize Your Christmas Worship in 2020
In normal times, Christmas Eve (or whenever your church holds its Christmas worship service) has the potential to be the biggest day of your church's year. While 2020 might look different for your church at Christmas, you still have the most potential at this time of year to welcome the most people from your surrounding community. This means you will have the most opportunity to minister to your community. As you prepare this special gathering—whether that's in-person, online, a drive-in, or some other creative experience—here are some things to consider.
Sing a song they know
You may have unchurched and de-churched folks coming into your doors this Christmas. This is not the day to introduce a new awesome song. Instead, choose songs the majority of your people are going to be able to sing. Christmas carols in their traditional form are great for this. There are also hymns that are known outside the church walls. The first verse to Amazing Grace is surprisingly well-known even by those who have little knowledge of the church world. By singing songs that are easy to recognize, you are inviting the stranger to be a part of worship.
Preach the Gospel
Don’t be clever. Don’t show off your incredible knowledge. Don’t spend your time proving that you are cooler than other pastors. Take this moment to proclaim the finished work of Christ. Your message should be laser-focused. Beware of rabbit trails about politics or family values. This will not save the human soul. People have brought family and friends hoping they would encounter the living Christ. They have not come for a variety show starring your family. Don’t betray their trust by grinding some axe that has little eternal value.
Christmas Eve is not a federal holiday. That means if you schedule a noon gathering on a Thursday (Christmas Eve this year) you are eliminating people who have to work. If this gathering is truly for the community, you must consider the community’s life. If you are a larger church, this might mean both an early and an evening gathering. But if you can have only one gathering, and you wish to reach the working class of your community, an evening service is something to be considered. While you could hit play on your online service several times throughout the day, think about creating unique content for your audience, and the time of day. Perhaps your late worship service will be by candlelight—maybe over a Zoom call instead of a Facebook Live. Think creatively about how to serve your community well in different scenarios.
Streamline the schedule
What is your church’s goal this Christmas? The preaching of Jesus’ saving work to lost sinners should be at the center of your priorities. Beware of diluting your purpose with sideways energy. If you are announcing a hundred things during the Christmas season, then the center is very easily missed. The congregation should know the message of the Gospel is your front line. Even though this Christmas simpler seems much more subdued and simple than most, people are still busy. Don't let your message get lost. Ask your congregation to pray about who they will invite to Christmas worship—then give them the tools they need to invite those people. And keep it at that—don't worry about all the fringe things happening around you, your church, and the world for this moment.
As you plan for Christmas worship, be intentional. Know your goal. And keep the main thing the main thing. While this Christmas might look different than we're used to, your church still has an incredible opportunity to reach your neighborhood this season.
This article has been updated. It was originally published on October 18, 2018.