A question came up in an online church leader string I follow: “With Christmas Eve on a Sunday this year, how are you planning to handle it?”
First – I was glad to see some teams thinking ahead.
Second – I was disheartened with some of the responses.
The first replies, from some good-sized churches, were in the vein of “we are cutting back that day to allow staff to be with their families. We are reducing the schedule of Sunday programs.”
A part of me died in reading that.
Thankfully a few responded with plans to INCREASE the number of services that day and make it a focal point of outreach.
In my view, this is the correct response.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve Eve, and even Christmas Eve Eve Eve is the new Good Friday/Easter opportunity for outreach. You can reach more people in those three days than you will next Easter season. This is a critical time to reach people in your community and build engagement with many sectors you may not be reaching now.
I get push back from some that have by that point in the year exhausted many staff and volunteers. Some of those had special outreach events earlier in December and believe those were the most crucial investments of time and resources.
Some of those are surely worthwhile endeavors. Some are not.
But I think with Christmas Eve on a Sunday you now have an ideal scenario for multiple opportunities in the run up to Christmas Day to help non-attenders celebrate Christ’s birth AND get to know your church.
I encourage you to plan services on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Advertise and ticket them. Make them the focal point for December.
If you are an “identical programming” type church – meaning that all services are always the same – then carry on with that for that entire weekend.
If you are “tailored option” type church – make most of the auditorium services similar and layer on a kid “birthday party for Jesus” in a venue that can handle groups with reduced volunteer steam.
But don’t feel like the spectacular is needed: Simple, straightforward, designed for outsiders, warmth and familiar music. Communicate to regulars – “this is going to be 65 minutes of pure goodness of sharing God’s good news to the world so invite everyone you can.”
I know most of our clients don’t do Christmas Day Services when Christmas falls on a weekday. With Christmas Day on Monday, I would agree if that is your custom.
And if you want to give staff a break, then take the next Sunday and cut back on service times and format. Or choose not to have services that day.
But don’t miss out this year on this fantastic opportunity.