Christmas is on Sunday this year. What is your church doing?

We have a special program and are doing MORE than we usually do most Sundays
3% (1 vote)
We are maintaining our normal schedule
10% (3 votes)
We are having a service (or more), but paring down our schedule
77% (23 votes)
We have cancelled our services that day
10% (3 votes)
We have not decided
0% (0 votes)
We are doing something DIFFERENT (e.g., meeting offsite, shorter praise time, etc.) but still something
0% (0 votes)
Other
0% (0 votes)
Bah humbug. We're ignoring the whole thing.
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 30
3703 reads

There are 19 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

Some churches have a Christmas service no matter what day of the week Christmas falls. For some of these churches, Christmas rivals Easter for attendance.

We typically (and will once again) have a Christmas Eve service, but when Christmas falls on a Sunday it usually means "desertion time." The troops are occupied on other fronts. This year, we have eliminated all but our main 10:30 service.

What is your church doing? What are your experiences?

"The Midrash Detective"

Jim's picture

The church where I am a member (but caveat ... I am not the official spokeman or Pastor of!)

Pared down: AM worship service only (no SS). A good very good plan

Jeff Straub's picture

Imagine, having a religious service on Christmas! How odd! I am here in
Romania this week. Do you know what these strange people do? They go to church Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the day after Christmas. Even if none of these days are a Sunday! Talk about fanatics! They should do what we do and that is spend as little time in the Lord's House as possible! It's our day to have presents! Not go to church!

Jeff Straub

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I wouldn't attempt to say what's effective elsewhere, but at our church, sometimes less is more. That is, having schedule that is less full on a Sunday now and then makes the part we do have a little more--not sure what. Just more. Maybe a little more of everything it usually is.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Here in Albany, we will have a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Saturday evening and one Christmas Day worship service at 10:30 a.m. I personally do not see anything wrong with a change of pace. My guess is that many in our church family will be out of town visiting family and attending church wherever they are. My burden is that Christmas be a worshipful and restful day for the people of God. Go worship God at church - then rest with family - be a witness to those unsaved family members at your celebrations who will never darken the doors of your churches.

Praise God for what they do in Romania! I would love to be a part of that.

Jeff Straub's picture

Sunday - 9AM Prayer Meeting - Really!; 10 AM SS; 11 AM Service; Sunday night 6 PM Prayer meeting . . . what again!?! 7 PM Service . . . on a normal Sunday. Other Sundays might be longer

Midweek - 2 hours also more prayer. Too much of a good thing?

Now maybe this is just "tradition" but they do actually pray in Romanian churches. I cannot remember the last real prayer meeting I have been in - in US or Canada that is.

The good news is, the more they become like American churches--CCM, and the like, the less they need to pray. Now that's progress!

Jeff Straub

Dick Dayton's picture

For the past 27 Christmas Eves, we have done a "Christmas Carols By Candlelight" time. As technology has changed, we have gone from overhead projector to PowerPoint. We project the words to the stanzas we are going to sing (Most folks only know the first) and have readings as well. I gather the yiounger children and read the Luke 2 account. At the end, we sing Silent Night as we light candles. I have unsaved who come every year to this.
For Christmas, I am asking a worship leader to help me develop the service. It will be at our normal 10:30 time slot (No Sunday School) and will focus upon helping us appreciate the great gift God has given us. In past years, we have often had visitors to this service also.
I don't think adjusting the services for the day is necessarily "caving in" to the society, but it trying to relate eternal truths to this secular world in which I find myself. If I were in Romania, I would delight to participate in all the services. My Hispanic family comes to the Christmas Eve service, then has a large family gathering and meal. They have been able to put one foot in each culture.

Dick Dayton

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jeff Straub wrote:
Sunday - 9AM Prayer Meeting - Really!; 10 AM SS; 11 AM Service; Sunday night 6 PM Prayer meeting . . . what again!?! 7 PM Service . . . on a normal Sunday. Other Sundays might be longer

Midweek - 2 hours also more prayer.

This may give rise to a new variation on an old saying, "When in Romania, do as the Romanians do!" In this case, it would be amazing.

"The Midrash Detective"

dmicah's picture

Quote:
The good news is, the more they become like American churches--CCM, and the like, the less they need to pray. Now that's progress!

Jeff, can you explain this a little more? What specifically does "CCM, and the like" mean?

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Growing up in the Lutheran church/school, we as kids were involved in presenting a major production on Christmas Eve, for which we virtually took off school for a month to practice. It included singing (including German carols) and reciting long passages of Scripture, all perfectly and from memory. Christmas morning was another service, even when not on a Sunday.

When I began attending an IFCA Bible Church, one of the first things I noticed was that Christmas was all but non-existent. No Christmas Eve service, maybe a few carols on the Sunday before, but they didn't want to go overboard or anything. :cry: I believe there may have even been a small contingent that was opposed to celebrating holidays.

In the first church I pastored, I learned quickly that, try as I might to institute Christmas -- while the denominational churches in town were setting up extra chairs, us "funny"-mental Baptists would gather as a humble group with those few who did not head "home for the holidays."

So there you have it -- let's put on our bathrobes (shepherds' cosutmes) and have us a Christmas play! Bleah

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I don't think there is anything particularly Scooge-y about not 'celebrating' Christmas. It certainly isn't a directive in Scripture that we remember Christ's birth. Are there 8 tiny reindeer somewhere in Ezekiel? 'Cause if they are hiding out in the Bible, they'd definitely be in Ezekiel. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused002.gif[/img ]

We are, however, commanded to memorialize His death. If a church goes full monty on Christmas but not on the Lord's Supper, I think they've got their priorities out of whack. We certainly don't fuss about a church not celebrating other holidays, so I don't see why Christmas should be made some kind of Christian imperative. Christians didn't invent Christmas, I don't see why we are supposed to preserve it.

The church we are visiting is sticking with the normal schedule, as far as I know, and having a cantata. It's our first Christmas there, so we don't know what their tradition is just yet.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I don't really see the connection, Susan.

In my own limited mind, I would compare Christmas to Easter, and would agree that it is out of balance to plan/prepare/practice and celebrate Christmas for nearly a quarter of the year, then spend one day (Easter Sunday) on the passion of Christ -- and even then celebrating His resurrection without putting that in context, such as even telling us that He ever died first!

For all of its weaknesses, the church year calendar has some real strengths, and it corrects the above abuses. For those who err on the side of overdoing Christmas, I think that basically springs out of mimicking the culture's commercialization of it.

As far as the Lord's Supper, I think a better way of judging would be to compare how various churches and traditions practice that ordinance. I think there has been some real progress here in fundamental Baptist churches. For those that still have Sunday night services, often now the first Sunday night of the month fully revolves around communion. In the church we currently attend, we have it in the morning, but then have a meal and no Sunday evening service that week.

These are big improvements from the days when it was tacked on after the invitation, 20 minutes after most people were already ready to leave. :~

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The comparison is that if Christmas is not a Biblically mandated memorial/celebration, there should be no cause for concern if a family or church chooses not to observe it. I'm much more troubled by an over emphasis on celebrations with no Scriptural support. That's all I'm saying.

I understand that there is often a combative spirit between those who choose to celebrate Christmas vs those who don't, and that is unfortunate, to say the least.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

OK Susan!

I guess personally, I would not commonly think of saying of a church, "They don't do anything for Christmas, but boy-oh-boy do they do a great job with the Lord's Supper!" I guess to me that is comparing apples and tomcats. Not, of course, that the two have no relation whatsoever, but that would be a curious combination to compare to my mind.

Yes, as you say, the Lord's Supper is Biblically mandated.

The celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 is not. I wonder, however, if we did not celebrate Christmas, how often we would look at passages like Isa. 7, Matt. 1 and Luke 3, or how often we would stop for a Sunday School lesson on the Nicene Creed. I know that my life would be much the poorer for taking out Christmas!

Allowing four Sundays to celebrate Christmas and four to prepare for Easter, that leaves 44 other Sundays in the year. If you have Sunday morning and Sunday night, that is 88 "regular" Sunday services to plan, prepare for and fill. I see no harm in taking the opportunity to celebrate the holidays and use them as a teaching tool.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
OK Susan!

I guess personally, I would not commonly think of saying of a church, "They don't do anything for Christmas, but boy-oh-boy do they do a great job with the Lord's Supper!" I guess to me that is comparing apples and tomcats. Not, of course, that the two have no relation whatsoever, but that would be a curious combination to compare to my mind.

Yes, as you say, the Lord's Supper is Biblically mandated.

The celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 is not. I wonder, however, if we did not celebrate Christmas, how often we would look at passages like Isa. 7, Matt. 1 and Luke 3, or how often we would stop for a Sunday School lesson on the Nicene Creed. I know that my life would be much the poorer for taking out Christmas!

Allowing four Sundays to celebrate Christmas and four to prepare for Easter, that leaves 44 other Sundays in the year. If you have Sunday morning and Sunday night, that is 88 "regular" Sunday services to plan, prepare for and fill. I see no harm in taking the opportunity to celebrate the holidays and use them as a teaching tool.


You are trying to read too much into what I wrote. It's not a comparison of The Lord's Supper vs Christmas, but a Biblically mandated memorial vs one that is not. I also did not imply, as far as I can see, that there was harm in taking the opportunity to celebrate a holiday. The harm is in giving spiritual weight to things that the Bible doesn't.

As a family we are aware that we should consistently study the Scriptures, and we do not need a holiday to help us appreciate God's miraculous grace. Christmas as we know it is not an ancient celebration, but came as a result of the embracing of Dickens' idea of 'peace on earth good will toward men'. I don't think Christianity suffered hundreds of years of spiritual famine without this particular holiday.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Alot of what we do to celebrate Christmas in the evangelical church is rooted in the cultural commercialization of Christmas. Just as neighbors compete to see who can have the best Christmas lights, we think we have to have the biggest, best, most spectacular celebration of Christmas because... the kids deserve it, it will draw people, it is what is expected, etc.
I would agree that these are sub-par reasons for a church to hold a particular type of Christmas observance, and if they do so in that fashion, their observance may be big, but it is probably not going to be very spiritual -- just an attempt to cater to the culture. In that case, it MIGHT even be better to skip it. I would put alot of the seeker-type churches in this group.

On the other hand, there were very profound celebrations of Christmas long before Dickens came around, such as in the Lutheran tradition, where it was always a major part of the church year since the Reformation. It is possible for a church to make a big deal of Christmas and do it in a very Biblical, spiritual, traditional, historically Christian way.

There is actually lots of interesting history in the church as to who did celebrate Christmas, who didn't and why. Yes, much of what we know today in our culture regarding Christmas stems from the implementation of Dickens' ideal, but it does not have to be that way for a particular church or individual. Perhaps the reason we as Baptists would feel that our celebration of Christmas is rooted in the culture is because we are often so disconnected from church history (sometimes purposefully so), and thus the current culture is all we are left to draw from.

Lots of food for thought here...

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Here is another pet peeve of mine:

If you need a picture of your kid in his bathrobe and towel (Baptist shepherd's costume), could you please take it at home before you come to church, not walk up to the front row and start shooting your camera during the service?

We are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ here -- this isn't Dancing With the Stars!

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry