Christmas

This Year, Rediscover The “Why?” Behind Your Church’s Christmas Traditions

Before a church holds any event, program or service, we should always ask “why?” And Christmas is no exception. We need to ask questions like “Why do we do this?” “Why do we do it in this way?” and “Does this event or tradition fit with the current mission of our church, or are we just …

This Year, Rediscover The “Why?” Behind Your Church’s Christmas Traditions Read More »

Another Small Church Christmas Eve – Was Yours Not So Merry And Bright?

Christmas Eve has come and gone.

As you scroll through social media, you’re seeing all the rave reports from fellow pastors about full churches, beautiful productions and salvations.

But, while you’re happy for them, you don’t respond. Because, in the small church you serve, yesterday was hard. Again.

Instead of a bigger-than-usual crowd, your church building was downright barren because the church members who left for the holidays were not replaced by visitors.

Instead of a lavish musical production, the one or two musicians you do have (if you have any to begin with) were among those who left town to visit family.

I don’t have any answers for you. But I do feel what you’re going through.

While our small church had a great Sunday this year, I remember those sparse years when there was more to dread about church at Christmas than to look forward to.

Looking For A Last-Minute Christmas Sermon Idea? Keep It Simple, Keep It Weird

The Christmas story is so simple. And so weird.

How simple?

Everyday simple – literally. As in, millions of times every day simple.

A baby is born.

How weird?

Other-worldly weird. Not-even-in-a-comic-book weird. It-can-only-be-a-miracle weird.

That baby is God, the creator of all things, come to this planet in human form.

One of the challenges of preaching for Christmas is holding those two very different truths in hand without falling into one of two traps.

Looking For A Last-Minute Christmas Sermon Idea? Keep It Simple, Keep It Weird

The Christmas story is so simple. And so weird.

How simple?

Everyday simple – literally. As in, millions of times every day simple.

A baby is born.

How weird?

Other-worldly weird. Not-even-in-a-comic-book weird. It-can-only-be-a-miracle weird.

That baby is God, the creator of all things, come to this planet in human form.

One of the challenges of preaching for Christmas is holding those two very different truths in hand without falling into one of two traps.

4 Ways Your Church Can Help People Simplify Christmas

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas is also the busiest.

A few years ago, our small church staff decided we weren’t going to compete with all the shopping, school plays, office parties and visits to Santa that were filling people’s calendars. We weren’t able to keep up, so we stopped trying.

Instead, we asked ourselves “what can we do that no one else is doing?” Specifically, instead of crowding their calendar even more, how can we help people simplify their Christmas season?

We experimented with several ideas. Over the years, we’ve landed on a few simple concepts that work for us.

4 Ways Your Church Can Help People Simplify Christmas

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas is also the busiest.

A few years ago, our small church staff decided we weren’t going to compete with all the shopping, school plays, office parties and visits to Santa that were filling people’s calendars. We weren’t able to keep up, so we stopped trying.

Instead, we asked ourselves “what can we do that no one else is doing?” Specifically, instead of crowding their calendar even more, how can we help people simplify their Christmas season?

We experimented with several ideas. Over the years, we’ve landed on a few simple concepts that work for us.

4 Reasons Our Church Stopped Doing ‘Come and Watch’ Events (And 5 Alternatives)

Many churches have experienced great success and growth doing big ‘come and watch’ events.

Even if choir cantatas on Christmas and Easter have been replaced by a special illustrated message with stage design, lighting and video, the idea is the same – to draw people in so we can present the gospel to them.

The big ‘come and watch’ event may still work in some places, but many church leaders (like Carey Nieuwhof, in a recent helpful post) have found that they work less well than they used to – or we thought they did.

Several years ago, our church stopped doing ‘come and watch’ events on special Sundays, like Christmas and Easter. Then we stopped doing them altogether.

Here’s why:

I’m Offended! By Easily-Offended Christians

Well, we did it. We made it through this Christmas without a major national brouhaha erupting about a not-holy-enough red cup, banned lyrics at a school play, or a scandalously-placed manger scene.

So let’s keep it going, shall we?

Let’s resolve to go through the coming year determined not to be so easily offended anymore.

Christians should be some of hardest-to-offend people in the world. Because we should be like Jesus.

We should reserve our outrage for truly offensive things.

What a Rabbi Taught Me About Keeping Christ In Christmas

People can, and do, go to a lot of places to get Christmas cheer. When they choose to come to a church during the Christmas season it’s not because they want to see more of what they can get elsewhere. They’re coming to church because they want to hear about Jesus.

I don’t see any need to be an anti-Santa zealot. But let’s not let this once-a-year opportunity pass us by. And don’t water it down.

Give them what the came for.

Give them Jesus.

To Everyone Who Works During Christmas: A Tribute

It’s Christmas Eve. Today and tomorrow are busy days for pastors.

While many others get a break tonight and tomorrow, pastors like me are hard at work.

We’re preparing for Christmas Eve Candlelight services, Midnight Masses and Christmas Day celebrations.

While others wrap last-minute gifts, travel to grandma’s house and come to church for a much-needed reminder of the reason for all this fuss, we’re hard at work making sure their church experience is everything it should be.

Then we get ready to do it all again on Sunday.

It’s not that I’m complaining. I love every minute of it.

But I wanted to acknowledge this reality for one simple reason.

To say ‘thank you.’