By Jared Huntley
Everyone knows Christmas is one of the best times of the year to reach the unreached in your community. If there’s ever a time the unchurches are likely to come and hear the Gospel, it’s Christmas and Easter.
There’s a fine line between not taking advantage of the opportunity presented by a Christmas Eve service and overthinking it.
Here are 5 imperatives for your Christmas Eve service this year to keep you on track.
Keep It Short
Resist the temptation to do everything during your Christmas Eve service. While it may be tempting to sing all 5 of your favorite Christmas carols and play that fun Christmas video by the Skit Guys, a good rule of thumb on Christmas Eve is that “less is more”.
Remember that usually people are spending time with family during this time and they have various activities planned. Oftentimes as church planters we can overthink a worship gathering and convince ourselves that we need to help usher in revival right here and right now. Do yourself a favor and take the pressure off of your shoulders to bring revival.
Don’t Get Cute With Your Sermon
Don’t get cute with your sermon. While I’m sure you can masterfully weave the Christmas story into an exegesis of Deuteronomy 5, the Christmas Eve service is not the time to do it.
Just preach the Christmas story! As Matt Hess, my co-host on In The Trenches says, “It’s a pretty good story in and of itself”. Several years ago I wasted lots of time trying to design an innovate Advent sermon series in the book of Isaiah.
While there’s nothing wrong with preaching out of Isaiah if that’s where the Lord leads you, looking back I wasn’t trying to preach out of Isaiah because that’s where the Lord was leading. I wanted to be innovative and unique. But what I ended up doing was wasting time.
There’s nothing wrong with preaching a simple Gospel message out of the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. When you really think about it, a story about God taking on human flesh to be born as a baby in a manger so that he could walk the earth as a man and die for the sins of the world is a pretty amazing story. It’s a bit prideful if we think we can “one up” it.
Sing Christmas Carols That People Know
When people come to a Christmas Eve service, they are expecting to sing Christmas carols. Don’t be that church that tries to get too creative and overthink the music (are you noticing a trend here, by the way?).
There are plenty of Christmas carols that are packed with rich theology like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “O Holy Night”, and “Joy To The World”. Yes, that Shane and Shane song does an incredible job of breaking down the Gospel, but for this one service let’s just stick to the hymns that focus on the birth of Jesus Christ, OK?
Tap Into Traditions People Already Know
Growing up, we went to a Candlelight Christmas Eve service every single year. If that’s a thing in your community and you don’t have candles at your Christmas Eve service, you’re doing it wrong.
Since we’re a church plant and we rent facilities, we aren’t allowed to have actual fire in the building. But instead of abandoning the whole candle light idea, we purchased battery powered “candles” like this.
(Incidentally, It’s too bad no one told Matt about the no open flame thing before their first Christmas Eve service – listen to our episode titled “Maximizing The Christmas Season To Reach The Lost” to hear the story of how Matt started a fire)
Whether it’s singing Silent Night by candle light or caroling or having a Christmas banquet, if it’s a tradition in your community, you should be doing it as a church.
Have A Future Event To Invite Guests To
This is an absolute must for Christmas and Easter. You will have first time guests on Christmas Eve if you make even the slightest effort to invite people. But getting people in the door is not (or at least should not) be the goal.
Seeing people receive the Gospel and get connected with the life of your church is the goal. So please, plan ahead and have a future event to invite people to. It could be as simple as a Pastor’s Open House, where you invite people over to your place for a night of fellowship and food to get to know you better.
Or it could be a bigger event like a conference your church is doing, a kids or youth event, or a service project. Whatever it is, get fliers printed up for it, hand them to everyone who walks in the door, and personally invite them to join you at this next event.
Preferably, this future event should be happening within the next 2 weeks, so you are probably looking at the first week of January as your best bet.
What are your plans for the upcoming Christmas Eve Service? I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas. I’m praying that each and every one of you has an incredible Christmas season this year and that many people hear the Gospel of Jesus for the first time in your community!