I’ve not pastored since the Spring of 2004, and so have the perspective of a good many years on this subject.
I have, of course, been in church all that time–for five years as director of missions for the SBC churches in the New Orleans area, retiring in 2009–and probably two-thirds of the Sundays have been preaching in churches far and wide, big and small, contemporary and traditional, impressive and otherwise.
I have always loved the Christmas season. I enjoy the constant carols in the department stores (although I confess that Brenda Lee’s “Rock Around the Christmas Tree” and a couple other seasonal things have outlived their usefulness with me!) and browsing the stores and the displays some stores still make. I’m good with Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings as well as Merry Christmas. One is as scriptural as the other.
If I were the pastor, once again, of a church during the Christmas season, here are a few things I would do…
–I would plan my calendar to include family time and ‘do nothing’ time. The human spirit needs such rest periods.
–I would visit every nursing home in the area with gifts. I would take along a child or two.
–I would make myself available for every retirement home/assisted living place to do a short Christmas program during December and would bring gifts to all the residents.
–I would make sure the Angel Tree program was alive and well in my church, as it blesses the families of incarcerated prisoners.
–I would support the Operation Christmas Child with its shoe boxes.
–I would never pass a Salvation Army kettle without making a donation. I do this now, but if I were pastoring, I’d encourage my flock to be generous here too.
–I’d promote our denomination’s big Christmas offering for international missions, and one thing more: I would not worry about protecting the people from requests for money. As a friend told me, “I don’t have to protect my people’s billfolds; they do that themselves.”
–I would overeat, of course. Because I always do at this time of the year.
–I would do two things at every musical presentation at my church: Welcome everyone at the start, and then conclude the program with a brief presentation of the message of Christmas and an invitation for people to give their hearts to Christ.
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