Monday, December 5

Closed for Christmas
Some of the largest churches in America won't be worshiping together on Christmas this year. Among the churches closed on Christmas Day are Willow Creek Community Church in Chicagoland; Southeast Southland Christian Church in Louisville Lexington, Kentucky; Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan; North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia; and Fellowship Church near Dallas. (UPDATE: My mistake. The SouthEAST Christian Church website lists a 11:15 a.m. service. SouthLAND Christian Church will be closed. Thanks to Ben Hardman for leaving the comment.)

The reason given for the closures on what has historically been considered one of the Church's highest holy days ("holidays") is that this allows staff members and volunteers to spend the holiday, which is on Sunday this year, with their families. I suspect, though, that more so, these churches know that they'll have a hard time drawing a crowd for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. In a consumer-driven culture you really only get a single shot at people during any given week. And since Christmas Eve tends to be the largest crowd draw of the year -- that one wins out.

Not all megachurches are completely dumping Sunday worship this Christmas. Saddleback Church in Southern California, while cutting back on the number of Christmas Day morning services, has added additional holiday services on the preceding Wednesday and Thursday nights. They already have multiple Friday and Saturday evening services during normal weeks.

At Cornerstone Covenant Church we will have both Christmas Eve (7 p.m.) and Christmas Day (10 a.m.) services. On Christmas Eve we do "Candles and Carols" -- reading biblical passages which anticipate Christmas, as well as those passages which point to the fulfillment of that anticipation in the Nativity.

I will tell a Christmas parable that I've concocted for the occasion. And we will sing Christmas carols -- including Silent Night at the conclusion of the service as we all go out onto the patio with candles -- and sing under the stars.

We are heavy on congregational participation -- not much into special entertainment.

On Christmas Day we will have the regularly scheduled service with a focus on the implications of being Christmas people. We will also join together in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. And then we'll hang out for awhile afterward and enjoy each others company.

Would it be more convenient to cancel Sunday morning? -- perhaps so. But it wouldn't be as rich and full of an experience for the extended family of Christ's people.

1 comment:

Ben Hardman said...

Southeast Christian has services on Christmas day 11:15 and 5 services on Christmas Eve - I will be there!