This year Christmas Day falls on Sunday morning. This creates an interesting situation for Churches. What are Churches to do?
Recently I have read a few articles which have stated that their Church is having worship on Sunday morning and they seemed to underline the deeply spiritual reasons for their decisions. Well, the Church that I lead stands on the other side of this issue. We decided not to have worship on Sunday morning, rather have it on Friday night. Unlike 89% of Churches in America, we are not having any worship program on Dec. 24 or Dec. 25.
Here are some of the factors that lead to this decision.
1. We are Still Worshipping God. Does it matter what day we meet? Some Churches offer Thursday or Saturday or Monday programs. Are those okay for believers? Yes, the early Church met on the first day of the week, but it is not a law for Christians. We worship Jesus and not a day of the week.
2. The Quality of the Program Issue. It takes about 30-40 people for us to have worship on the weekend. We have greeters, nursery workers, children’s Church leaders, a worship team, sound crew, and a several other people who we need to serve. On Christmas weekend, it is hard to find enough people to have a quality worship program. I know some people say, “Well just keep it simple.” My response is, “So what do we cut?” Nursery? That way no young families will want to attend. The worship team? Who will lead the singing? Sound? What? We want to put on a quality program for worship and not just a “get-by” program.
3. My Past Experience. I have vivid memories of the past two times that Christmas fell on Sunday. In Alaska, I was leading a Church of about 50 people and 25 showed up on Christmas morning and most were very tired and distracted. The time before that I was leading a new Church, and we were averaging about 200 people, and we had 50 show up on Christmas day. Everyone was tired, and they seemed very disappointed. The major conversation was about all the missing people. I have yet to be a part of a great Christmas Day program.
4. Outreach. I know of no non-Christian families who will want to go to Church on Christmas day. Christmas is not a big Church day, like Easter, for people on the edge or outside of faith. I think that more guests are likely to come on Friday night than Sunday morning.
5. We Already Quit Our Christmas Eve Program. After talking to dozens of people at our Church and those in our communities we discovered that most families go to one side of the family on Christmas Eve. Then they stay home on Christmas morning. Then they go to the other side of the family on Christmas night. With that in mind, we transitioned to a Christmas Eve Eve candlelight program with great success. Last year we averaged 168 in worship each week, and 136 people attended our new program. It was by far the most successful event yet.
6. We Value Family. I do not just preach about spending time with your family, I practice it. I believe every family should have a Christmas morning together with one another. They can celebrate and party and enjoy this wonderful holiday.
I do appreciate my Christmas friends who are having worship on Christmas morning, and I hope and pray it goes well for them. In fact, the handful of families might end up attending their Church for a Sunday. At my Church, we have simply decided to do something different. We believe this decision was God honoring in every way.