I am convinced that any church that fails to have a Christmas Eve service is missing out on an extra Sunday of attendance for the year. Christmas Eve services in most churches are one of the top two services for the year. Any church that cannot boast this fact needs to seriously examine what they are currently offering.
Christmas Eve is a special time for worship and one in which families normally choose to worship together. Even though it is not a bad idea to offer something distinctive and unique, there are certain traditions that simply must be kept on Christmas Eve. There are certain experiences that folks expect on Christmas Eve, good music, a relevant message, and candlelight are all things folks want as part of this service.
Personally I believe that every Christmas Eve service must include at least one fine solo or choral piece. This means that pastor’s and music directors must work far enough in advance to assure that the choir or soloists have adequate time for preparation. By the worship team preparing well in advance it will enable them the opportunity to share hopes of how the music and the message will enable those who do not normally attend worship to enter into the sacred space of worship and draw closer to Christ.
It is also always good for the worship leaders to get together for prayer prior to every service throughout the year. It is especially true that this must be done on Christmas Eve and Easter. There are few occasions during the year when the music and the message will have greater potential to communicate the total message of a special celebration in the life of the church than on Christmas Eve. Trinity UMC is truly blessed to have a very talented group of musicians and instrumentalist and this needs to be highlighted at this service. The highlighting of special music also gives members a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to attend something special.
It is also very important that the sermon on Christmas Eve be a clear proclamation of the Gospel that is engaging and only as long as it needs to be to communicate the love of God demonstrated in the incarnation. It is not that the sermon needs to be short, as much as it needs to be memorable and compelling to any guests who happen to be in attendance. This sermon always needs to be prepared with visitors in mind.
Every piece of information from the church office and website must clearly state that at the conclusion of the service folks will get to sing Silent Night and light a candle. As simple as it might seem folks wait all year for this experience. If there is nothing else throughout the year that moves them, this is one thing they know that will.
It is also a good idea for a church to give a modest gift to all Christmas Eve visitors, such as a Christmas ornament, cookies, or any item which will remind them of their visit. It also has to be remembered that since most folks attending the Christmas Eve service will come as a family that it is important to have special elements prepared for small children.
Many churches have a fear of collecting an offering on Christmas Eve in fear of it being intimidating to non-churched folks. Statistics show that non-churched folks eagerly will give to something which they know helps others. So this is a great time to do a mission offering where a well known need is receiving a boost during this season a giving. Folks love to see a church reach beyond itself to help others and are glad to be a part of this.
This will conclude my ramblings on church growth and making Trinity UMC dynamic. It is now time to begin putting some of these elements into practice. My future blogs will be reduced to one weekly blog, with a either a report of what is going on, or upcoming, to which you are asked to be a part, or a Biblical message. It is time to move forward….