4 Ways to Maximize Your Christmas Service
Advent is the season of ever-increasing light, and there's nothing more exciting than a thoughtful Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship service to remind your congregation—and introduce guests—of the hope the Christmas holiday brings.
For many churches, Christmas services are among the most well-attended worship gatherings of the year. Your church will likely see the guests—extended family members or people from your community looking for that historic tradition. As church leaders, this season also provides the most opportunity to minister to your community.
Because of these factors, we need to be incredibly intentional about every aspect of the Christmas season services. As you continue planning the details of your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship services, here are some things to consider.
Sing a song everyone knows
You may have unchurched and dechurched folks coming into your doors this Christmas Eve. 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 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.
Consider the time
This December, Christmas Eve falls on Sunday. Which means lots of churches are asking questions about when to have their special Christmas services. Should you still have morning services? Morning and evening? Evening only? Christmas Day only? Depending on your congregation, its context, and larger denominational influences, your church may answer these questions differently. As you consider your options, here are some things to think about:
- People expect a Christmas service time to be different. It's okay to have your service at a different time than most Sundays. (Just communicate the change extremely well.)
- If you're adding to your regular weekend, how will this impact volunteers, staff, and the members of your congregation? You may want to still have morning worship service and have traditional Christmas Eve or Day gatherings, but how does this add extra responsibility to others?
In most years, when Christmas Eve or Christmas Day don't fall on the weekend, remember that Christmas Eve is not a federal holiday. That means if you schedule a noon gathering you are eliminating people who have to work. Christmas gatherings are also just one aspect of a family's typical holiday tradition—consider how your service times might fit into the typical family's schedule. 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.
Streamline the schedule
What is your church’s goal this Christmas? The preaching of Jesus’ saving work to lost sinners should be at the top of your list. 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.
Leading up to Christmas, encourage your church members to pray over who they will invite to attend with them on Christmas. Then give them to the tools—equip the saints to engage their neighbors. As you help your church invite people, prepare for the individuals that will come.
If your church has several events happening this holiday season, it probably gets in the way of the priority—Christmas service. If your church calendar is overly busy, consider how to be more focused. What's just adding to the noise? Simplify and focus.