More than any other time of the year, Christmas is filled with traditions.
It’s one of the many reasons we love the holiday season.
It’s also something our churches need to pay closer attention to. Before a church holds any event, program or service, we should always ask “why?” And Christmas is no exception.
We need to ask questions like “Why do we do this?” “Why do we do it in this way?” and “Does this event or tradition fit with the current mission of our church, or are we just doing it because we’ve always done it?”
Then, if it does fit, we need to ask “is there anything about it that needs to be updated for current generations?”
And maybe most important of all, “what aspects of our church’s Christmas events or traditions need to be explained instead of just assumed?”
For instance, if Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, why do we have a Christmas tree on our platform? And if we don’t, why don’t we?
What is Advent, and why is it different from Christmas? What bigger story is the biblical account of Jesus’ birth tied to, and why does it matter?
Regular church attenders may understand the “why?” behind our traditions (although probably not as much as we think), but it may not be so clear to our guests – and this time of the year we may have more guests than ever.
Use Traditions To Build Bridges
I’m not saying we should dump any of our traditions.
But we need to be careful not to let our beloved Christmas traditions create a bigger wall between insiders and outsiders. We have enough of that during the rest of the year already.
Taking a few minutes to explain our Christmas traditions has several advantages:
First, it can help us decide which traditions to keep and which ones to get rid of – as in, if we can’t explain why we’re doing it, maybe we shouldn’t be.
Second, it can help fill our traditions with new life and purpose. Knowing why we do something always gives the event or tradition a greater value.
Third, it builds a bridge between insiders and outsiders. When we all know the “why”, no one feels left out.
Point To Jesus
Whatever we do as a church needs to serve a bigger purpose than the event itself. It must point to Christ, it must serve the church’s mission, and it must build on the past, not keep us stuck there.
Asking “why?” can help a church infuse their Christmas celebrations with greater hope, joy, mission and purpose.
And isn’t that what Christmas should be about anyway?
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