If you follow me on Twitter (@edstetzer) then you know I enjoy crowdsourcing ideas. Today I threw out the following question:
Although Christian churches tend to worship on Sundays, in the United States there is only one day a year that seems more "holy" than the Lord's Day. Christmas morning, is for many families, a sacred time, though not often for religious reasons. Family traditions (often with traveling family members) tend to trump church expectations, especially as it relates to when and where individuals will choose to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
In 2005 (the last time the December 25 fell on a Sunday) Christianity Today and the Chicago Tribune reported the decision some mega-churches made to cancel Sunday Christmas services. From CT:
"At first glance it does sound contrarian," Willow Creek senior pastor Gene Appel told the Tribune. "We don't see it as not having church on Christmas. We see it as decentralizing the church on Christmas--hundreds of thousands of experiences going on around Christmas trees. The best way to honor the birth of Jesus is for families to have a more personal experience on that day."
Cally Parkinson, spokeswoman for Willow Creek said, "It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy."
Lot's of other churches followed Willow Creek and it even made national headlines.
It appears to me that there are some missional opportunities around Christmas time, but also some family challenges. I'd be interested in how your church is handling it-- and why.
I've listed some of the responses to my Tweet below. It seems like this year most are going to continue with at least one service Sunday morning and forgo small group gatherings. Many are holding Christmas Eve services, but the timing varies. Some are even holding Friday night candlelight services, two days before Christmas.
You will note that some churches (particularly liturgical ones) would never miss Christmas morning worship, on a Sunday or not.
What about yours?
At LifeWay Research, we recently completed a survey of 1000 Protestant pastors on whether or not churches would meet this Christmas since it is on a Sunday-- and that is coming out soon. I will share it here on the blog when it is released.
Thanks for all of those that responded via Twitter. I hope it was helpful to other teams looking ahead to December.