Have you ever wondered what a pastor dreams about at Christmas time? Probably not. That being said, it is not going to stop me from sharing what I focus on during the holiday season.
1. I pray non-Christian people have a positive Christian experience. I chose the words carefully. I do not have a plan to explain the whole gospel at our Christmas programs. Instead, my focus is on people who are skeptical about religion to have a great experience at Church. Our program will be mostly special music with few congregational songs, communion, and candlelight will be the emphasis, guests can take home a gift bag, and we will have cookies in the kitchen if anyone would like to have one. I want people to develop a positive attitude toward people of faith.
2. I hope people learn something. Every year I want people who attend our Christmas programs to learn one tiny thing new. This year I have been teaching about the songs of Christmas, giving their backstory and looking at the lyrics of each song. I hope one little part of that information sticks with them and it comes to mind year after year. The story of Christmas is very familiar, but possibly one person may hear it for the first time or maybe understand in a more precise way. One goal is to have people who come to our programs deepen their understanding of faith.
3. I want people to receive something helpful to them. If people are down right now, I hope they feel encouraged even if it only comes through a prayer. If they are lonely, I hope they find a friendly person with which to talk. If they need to refocus on what is important at Christmas, I hope we are able to help them. I believe every person has holes in their life they are trying to fill, and I want God to use our Church to help them on their journey of faith.
4. I am asking God to use this Christmas to further his kingdom. I have been asking for God to send us a large group of people. I hope this weekend will spark something inside of several of them. Maybe it will inspire them to come back to Church again. Perhaps it will challenge them to come back a faith they once left. Maybe God will use this to touch the heart of a person with the gospel in a new and exciting way. I have no idea what God will do through our programs, but I believe he will use it to produce good fruit in the coming year.
As a pastor, when I come to the holidays I think about how God can use this one season for his glory. I ask God to use me and the people of the Church I lead to make an impact for eternity. I want this Christmas to be better than last year and have a more significant impact on our community and our world.