Ok so cards on the table, Christmas isn’t my favorite time of the year. There I said it. Wheew, what a weight off my shoulders. We don’t need to get into the details of why but suffice it to say that each Advent season my Grinch mug replaces whatever vessel was in use prior to this season. That being said, I do realize what an opportunity it is to use creativity, art, music, and more to share the real message of the season. I am one who believes worship leaders should share as much as possible at all times of the year but especially during the big times like Christmas and Easter.
What you are doing at your church can help inspire others in their efforts in their respective churches. So that’s why I’m finally blogging again after a long hiatus that was really just due to not making time for it.
First: Advent Devotionals
As a pastoral staff we created an Advent devotional for our Faith Family to share. Each pastor took 3 readings we had pulled from the Lectionary Year C and wrote a short devotional based on those readings. We decided to use The Message translation as to make it a very comforting and story like read. We printed them in house and made them into little booklets whose final size was 8.5″ x 5.5″. I wasn’t sure what the response would be so we printed what we would normally print for worship folders each week and well we underestimated the interest in them (note: we did not hand them out as people entered but as they left. we let everyone know they were available if they wanted one – this way we avoided just giving them to every person who walks in that my have a reading plan, or just plain wouldn’t use it.)
Here is a link to our devotional in an easy to print and assemble at home .pdf
Second: Children’s Program
Our children’s department put on a wonderful weekend of The Secret of Snowflake County. We have them take of the weekend services with a little acoustic worship and message time mixed in. You can find pictures here on our Facebook Page
Third: “Carols” Production
To be honest, all of the choral products I had received in promotion for what to purchase were a huge let down. Nothing really struck me as good; at all. So we decided to arrange our own choral music for this program. We pulled a lot from the Lifechurch.tv album, Carols. We also pulled inspiration from Church on the Move (Joy to the World, O Holy Night, Christmas Story), Hillsong, and Others. We were able to arrange songs that fit us so much better than any other boxed production. The catch was well I had never arranged and written music like that before so the choir may have received some sheet music only weeks before the event. I am very glad we decided to do so, however I would have loved to have started much earlier.
Fourth: Christmas Weekend
It has always been my philosophy to present Christmas weekend and Easter Weekend as who you are every other day of the year. I don’t like to do big productions, extra flashy, or extra traditional things that don’t represent who you are every other weekend. The thought process there is that those days you are most likely to have more guests than any other time of the year, why present yourself as something you are not? shouldn’t we try to encourage them to come back with a picture of who we really are? So this year we are doing basically a normal worship service. We do have a pretty cool opening version of O Come O Come Emmanuel. We are using the Future of Forestry version interspersed with some Amena Brown poetry. Here is an example of that presentation (we obviously played live but for you to get the idea)
Fifth: Christmas Eve
I like that we keep our Christmas Eve services simple and family oriented. We sing standard carols led from guitar in-between portions of the Christmas Readings from Luke. There is a moment when the children are invited on stage to hear our Children’s pastor read a story to them (and we put the pictures on the screens for all to follow along with.) We share family communion together – that’s where one person representing the family comes and gets a small plate with enough elements on it for the whole family. They return and share a time of prayer and communion together as a family. It is a nice peaceful evening that keeps the focus where it should be.
I go on vacation ha ha. Ok not every year but usually I tend to take some time to recharge after what can be a very intense season.
We used this version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen as an opener the first week of Advent this year. We did slow it down a smidgen and well I actually tuned my guitar… but you get the idea of the Mumford and Sons inspired version. It was a lot of fun and was received extremely well.
I would love to know what you are doing this year! Share in the comments below.