If you follow me on Twitter (@edstetzer), then you know I enjoy crowdsourcing ideas. Today, I threw out the following question:
“Christmas falls on Sunday this year. What does your church plan to do? Eve, morn, kids, etc.? I’ll share answers at blog.”
Although Christian churches tend to worship on Sundays, in the United States there is only one day a year that seems more “holy” than the Lord’s Day. Christmas morning is, for many families, a sacred time, though not often for religious reasons. Family traditions (often with traveling family members) tend to trump church expectations, especially as it relates to when and where individuals will choose to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
In 2005 (the last time December 25 fell on a Sunday), Christianity Today and the Chicago Tribune reported the decision some mega-churches made to cancel Sunday Christmas services. From CT:
“At first glance, it does sound contrarian,” Willow Creek senior pastor Gene Appel told the Tribune. “We don’t see it as not having church on Christmas. We see it as decentralizing the church on Christmas–hundreds of thousands of experiences going on around Christmas trees. The best way to honor the birth of Jesus is for families to have a more personal experience on that day.”
Cally Parkinson, spokeswoman for Willow Creek said, “It’s being lifestyle friendly for people who are just very, very busy.”
Lot’s of other churches followed Willow Creek, and it even made national headlines.
It appears to me that there are some missional opportunities around Christmas time but also some family challenges. I’d be interested in how your church is handling it– and why.
I’ve listed some of the responses to my Tweet below. It seems like this year most are going to continue with at least one service Sunday morning and forgo small group gatherings. Many are holding Christmas Eve services, but the timing varies. Some are even holding Friday night candlelight services, two days before Christmas.
You will note that some churches (particularly liturgical ones) would never miss Christmas morning worship, on a Sunday or not.
What about yours?
At LifeWay Research, we recently completed a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors on whether or not churches would meet this Christmas since it is on a Sunday–read the full report here.
Thanks for all of those that responded via Twitter. I hope it was helpful to other teams looking ahead to December.