Earlier this week, Tony Daussat posted a video on TikTok taken at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, showing drummers suspended from the ceiling of their auditorium, practicing for their annual “The Gift of Christmas” program.
Daussat’s caption read, “Casual Christmas worship service in TX.” The video has been viewed over 2.3 million times and has over 201,400 comment, many of which blasting Prestonwood for its elaborate Christmas production.
“Who needs Cirque du Soleil when you can get it for free at church services,” one person wrote. Another said, “Tell me the preacher has a private jet without telling me the preacher has a private jet.”
Prestonwood’s “The Gift of Christmas” includes a live 50-piece orchestra, a cast and choir of nearly 1,000 people, flying angels, live animals, a living nativity, a massive LED video wall, and more. The church performs 14 shows in December. All but three of the showtimes are currently sold out.
As the video continued to spread to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, some falsely assumed the production was intended to be a Sunday morning worship service. This provoked some to post comments like, “You can’t convince me that the leaders of churches like this don’t run it with a business mindset instead of a service mindset.”
Prestonwood released an official statement clarifying that the video clip was for their annual Christmas production.
“The Gift of Christmas…is a longtime tradition in the DFW Metroplex,” the church’s statement reads. “For more than a quarter of a century, Prestonwood Baptist Church has pulled out all the stops in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ during the Christmas season. We are grateful to have the opportunity to share this grand celebration of our Savior with as many as 75,000 people each year through The Gift of Christmas. And we are especially grateful for the many who make decisions to follow Christ or deepen their relationship with him.”
Prestonwood said the church believes that “Jesus deserves our absolute best, especially at Christmas. It’s unfortunate that the perennial American tradition of the church Christmas program now draws hateful ire from some. We pray that they, too, may come to know the joy of Christmas and the love of our Savior.”
Dan Panetti, Worldview Director for Prestonwood Christian Academy, shared a video of the practice, saying, “Lots of comments about Prestonwood’s annual Gift of Christmas extravaganza—this is not just a ‘casual’ Christmas worship service, it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus, literally when God became flesh, it’s kind of a BIG DEAL!”
ChurchLeaders reached out to Jeremiah Johnston, Prestonwood Baptist Church’s Pastor of Apologetics and Cultural Engagement and Dean of Spiritual Development at Prestonwood Christian Academy, for comment.