If you look at current church trends, you’ll notice that Christmas has almost caught up with Easter as the best time to reach new people in your community. While that hasn’t been the case at my church, that’s what the statistics are showing, which means there’s added pressure on church leaders to make the most of Christmas. I’ve felt it, and I’m sure many of you have as well. But, what if this year we took a different approach to Christmas?
Now, before I get labeled a Grinch or a Scrooge, let me just say that I love the Christmas season just as much as any other average American. And I love reaching people with the love of Jesus even more than that.
But is adding another service or doing a service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day really the best decision for most of us? Is it really worth what you’re asking people to give up?
Many times we’re asking our volunteers to skip out on their own family gatherings so they can serve at these services. We’re asking them to take one of the few days off they get for the holiday and spend it at church.
For what? Because we believe unchurched families are more likely to show up on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day than they are on December 22nd or 23rd.
Let’s say that’s true. Is that worth taking you and your volunteers away from family traditions? I’m not sure it is, but maybe.
I tell you what, if you’re still on the fence, go back a couple years and pull the names of every Christmas Eve or Christmas Day visitor you had. Then check to see if they’re still coming to your church.
If it’s working, keep doing it, but if not maybe it’s time you give yourself and your volunteers a break this Christmas. Your families will appreciate it.
Does your church do Christmas Eve or Day services? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let us know. I’d love to hear your opinions. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.
13 thoughts on “Should You Cancel Christmas Eve Services?”
Our Christmas Eve service is planned to be very simple. It’s a service with just piano and organ (yes, we still have one if those and use it every week in our early service), a short devotional, and a candlelight singing of Silent Night. It’s one service that, for us, crosses the boundary of or traditional/contemporary services. No… not a lot of visitors, but a lot of out-of-town extended family that, many times, don’t get to attend a service together, and, one more opportunity to focus people on what the Christmas season is really about.
I, honestly, never took into consideration that it was about the attendance, but more for the “reason of the season” approach. Church reminded me of the reason why we need to be celebrating Christmas, instead of it being about the gifts and the chaos of trying to make it to both grandparents’ houses for the holidays.
I’m a retired pastor – now pastoring a very small congregation. I am needing something very simple for a service for Christmas Eve, do you have anything available? It certainly would help an elderly pastor.
What exactly are you needing Dale? A message, a service layout, or something else? Feel free to send me an email through my contact page and I’ll try to help.
We are a small family church and we do our Special Christmas service the Sunday evening before Christmas. We have done this for years and extended family and visitors do come. It has worked out well for us and then allows all to have family time on Christmas Eve and Day.
Kathi, I think that’s a great idea. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
Matthew E Hallenbeck
I like having church on Christmas Eve because I enjoy worshiping God and thanking Him for the gift of Christ and our salvation. I never decided to have a worship service based on if I’ll get guests back to church. I guess it is the target of our worship – are we worshiping God for God or are we ‘worshiping’ God to get more people in church?
Matt, thanks for the comment. I would push back and say couldn’t you enjoy worshiping God and thanking him just as much on December 23rd. I mean if we want to get really technical about the day, then we should have services Christmas Day, and even then you have those who would argue that December 25th wasn’t the actual date of Jesus birth. The target for the church I get to serve is to introduce more people to Jesus. We just haven’t found that Christmas Eve is any more effective than the 23rd or 22nd or so on. I know it works for a lot of churches, but it hasn’t for us.
This is something we have been grappling with this year also. Christmas Eve has traditionally been a service that we give the band the night off, read the Christmas story thru the scriptures and special music, light candles, and invite our friends and family to share the goodness of Christ. But inadvertently the same people who are faithful to serve all year long are the same ones that serve Christmas Eve! Yes, they have to commit to missing some if not all of their own family tradition… For this reason we are switching it up this year. We are going to have our “traditional” Christmas Eve Service Sunday Morning Dec. 23rd in lieu of our regular service, and give EVERYONE a break!
Thanks for sharing your experiences Lynn. I bet your volunteers will be thankful.
We are doing Christmas Carols by Candlelight in the park on Monday 10, 17 and 24 at 6:30pm.
A Cappella. Simple set up. Simple tear down. 5-6 songs max.
It’s our way of gathering for a worship focus offered 3 times for our community.
You are right, from our services that were 200+ the last few years we don’t have many “returning guests.” But I will err on the side of offering simplified worship opportunities that invite the gathering of a crowd who is expected to “offer” something rather than come consume a “program.”
There is no method that is perfect. There is only the question, How do we love God and our neighbor as ourselves.
Christmas Eve is one of the most memorable services I attend each year. Its a time we stop and really sense the true meaning of Christmas. Everyone I know look forward. not to the loud music, but the reverence we seek at this time of the year. I’m a born again Christian, but I find the Catholic service’s very uplifting, and their pews are packed.
If we can bring people to church, we should. Isn’t that what we’re there to do. I would like to see churches remain open thru out the week so we could come at anytime and meditate and pray. I think the church is loosing its place in the hearts of people. It used to be family, now its strangers coming together once a week. So, the question was about Christmas Eve. Yes, yes and yes!
Thanks for your thoughts Lana.