4 Things to Consider as You Plan Your Christmas Services
It’s officially fall, which, in ministry-world, means Christmas is just around the corner.
As we all know, the holiday season is a huge deal for churches and it pays to be prepared. Here are four tips to give you direction and help keep you grounded as you take on one of the busiest and most beautiful times of the year.
1) Know Your Point
Just like with any sermon series, the first thing you need to know is your core idea. What will be your take for this Christmas season? What message do you want your audience to take away when they leave the church and return to their families and their Christmas Eve traditions?
Since Christmas Eve— and the holiday season in general— tends to attract a larger-than-average turnout of visitors, consider a message that feels relevant and rich for any listener, regardless of their church history or level of devotion. This doesn’t mean you have to keep it surface level, only that you should think through ways to keep it accessible to those who might not be familiar with the story of Jesus, the nuances of Christian rituals, or might feel jaded about insincere ways of interacting with the season.
2) Unite the Team
Christmas involves a lot of moving parts and it’s important that everyone on your team is communicating and on mission to make everything happen. While this is a good rule of thumb for any time of the year, pulling off Christmas especially requires a shared vision and a shared plan. Trust every team member to take on their part of the project. With set design, music, children’s ministry, holiday service projects delegated, you can focus more on your crafting an intentional sermon series.
If you work at a smaller church and have a smaller team, consider enlisting volunteers during the Christmas season to help out with things that are important but that you don’t have the capacity to see through all on your own. Be honest about your limitations, ask for help when you need it, and listen to other’s ideas. Even with a strong vision coming from you, other’s opinions and inspiration are valuable. Together you can create something better than you could create alone.
3) Remember Those Who Mourn
Christmas is a joyous, anticipated time of the year for many people. We are celebrating the coming of Jesus, and wanting to lean into that joy and excitement makes so much sense! However, it’s important to remember that for many people in your congregation, the holidays can be a challenging time. Maybe they’re missing loved ones that have passed away, are having to split time with the kids due to a divorce, or the budget’s tight due to a lost job.
When you’re crafting your messages and services, be mindful of the people who might be struggling. Don’t avoid acknowledging and honoring ways people might be hurting this time of year for fear of bringing down the mood. Christmas is about so much more than just a happy mood. It’s about light breaking into the darkness, hope being born. Your sensitivity could be just what somebody needs to hear. That could be the hope of the season for them.
4) The Reason for the Season
It’s easy to blame our capitalist culture for making Christmas about consumption, but often churches are just as guilty for exacerbating the “more, more, more” mentality. If we plan a holiday season just to stir up hype, spike giving numbers, and jam newcomers into pews, there’s a possibility we’ll miss out on meaningful opportunities to impact people’s lives for the long haul.
As you’re planning your Christmas services and, perhaps more importantly, the season after, consider how you can show up with integrity and deliver an experience that feels like your church. When people come back next week, will it feel like a totally different service? A totally different church? Consider how you can make Christmas feel special, without it being inauthentic or over the top. Ultimately, it’s God, not your fog machine or lavish giveaway, who is responsible for touching people’s hearts.
At the end of the day, Christmas is about hope, it’s about peace, it’s about God meeting us right where we are. Dream big and pray deeply about how God is using you and your church to meet your community, right where they are. We’ll be praying the same thing for you and the people in your care this holiday season. Happy planning!
About the Author
Emma Tarp is a writer and worship leader based in Minneapolis, MN. On her best days, she's highlighter-deep in a good book or teaching herself to sew. On her other best days, she's helping passionate folks and inspired businesses put words to their work. Find out more at emmatarp.com.