I really love the Christmas season. The colors, lights, the songs, the traditions, the memories, the crazy schedule and even Santa Claus! All joking aside, there is perhaps no other time when people’s hearts are soft toward the good news of comfort and joy like they are at Christmas. It raises the stakes a bit for those of us in vocational ministry and makes our planning for the Christmas service crucial.
Fair warning, these are my opinions. Here are four things I think are essential to a successful service.
- The people must be welcomed. Plan for guests! No one should attend a Christmas service without a smile-filled, “Merry Christmas!” from others. Formal greeters are great, but not necessary. Get people looking and loving people who are walking in to the church. (If you’re holding multiple services or expecting a crowd, some parking attendants would be welcome too!) As an added bonus, be sure to have something on the calendar that you can invite guests back for—hand them a flyer or invitation as they exit.
- The décor must be Christmas. Make it feel and look like Christmas! It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but don’t miss this simple way to communicate value. Using your time, energy, and finances this way shows your guests that you’ve anticipated their visit and taken the time to prepare for them. People of all ages will respond to this kind of attention to detail. Be creative about extending the decorations into shared spaces like lobbies and hallways, create a photo area with fun props and a backdrop or a hot cocoa buffet.
- The songs must be Carols. I love contemporary Christian music and worship. However, Christmas carols are the exception. People still recognize and relate to the traditional tunes so be careful with modern arrangements and keep the carols familiar. Candles are often a favorite tradition during the singing of carols too. Don’t miss this chance to build something families look forward to year after year.
- The message must be the Gospel. The Christmas story, yes, but don’t forget about the Good News. They are different. Make salvation as clear and available as possible. Remember to make time to pray in your busy schedule. Only God can change hearts. And remember, this may not be the time for a three-point thirty-minute lesson; keep it on the shorter side as families juggle the demands of their busy schedule and their antsy kids!
BEFORE YOU GO…
Okay, I have to say it, I feel conflicted about so many churches cancelling Sunday Services on Christmas Day. Yes, I get the family thing and not being legalistic. However, IF this is Christ’s birthday celebration and IF Sunday is the Lord’s Day, doesn’t it make sense to be together in a Worship Service, especially on December 25? BTW, when I was growing up we had a 10:00 AM Christmas Service every December 25. Just saying! I’d love to hear your feedback on this!
Also, what would you add for a successful Christmas Service?