Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The worst Christmas program ever...

...includes what?

Hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner. So I'm looking for some input from whomever will offer it: 

When you think of Christmas programs/services that churches put on - what makes them just plain bad?

What doesn't make for a good Christmas program? 

As I'm thinking through things for Christmas this year - I'm really curious what people will share. Please be honest - and please don't bash/critique someone's opinion. =)

Leave a comment below. Thanks!


Jessica said...

I feel like I don't have a lot of good feedback because I can't remember very many Christmas services, and I'm pretty sure I've gone to Catholic masses the last couple of years for Christmas Eve. But going to Catholic masses did make me think of a couple things I wish more Protestant churches would and would not do.

This is not so much about one day of a Christmas program but the whole season. I appreciate so much that the Catholic church celebrates Advent and that the masses before Christmas are meant to help parishioners prepare their hearts and minds for Christmas itself and for what you hear many Christians talk about but what so often gets lost in the craziness - "the reason for the season." Sorta cheesy, but true. I think it would be cool if more Protestant churches took the same time to emphasize the importance of Christ's birth and help people, even if it's just once or twice a week, overcome the mindset that Christmas is about gifts and shopping or whatever else we put in the place of Jesus.

One thing that I wish churches wouldn't do is make the Christmas message/service fit in with their current series. I have seen this done, and I remember feeling like it was totally disrespectful, like we couldn't take one Sunday away from this series to truly focus on the Christmas story, but instead it had to be worked into something else. I don't even remember what that series was, but I remember feeling like it was all cheapened. So if a church doesn't want to spend the Advent season on a series around the holiday, I think the least that could be done is put your series on recovery or community or whatever on hold for one week to just talk about Jesus being born. Then it doesn't feel like there's some other agenda, it's just all about Him.

Not sure if any of that is what you're looking for, but that's my two cents. And now I'm mad at you for making me think about Christmas before Thanksgiving. ;)

Daniel Benjamin said...

Mary did you know being sung is always a sure sign of a terrible Christmas service.

Bobissaur said...

Sarah Bobis here :)

Honestly, Christmas services are redundant on principle. It's the same holiday year after year, and no matter how many different perspecitves you hear it told, it just gets boring after a while. It's becoming a challenge for churches to try and keep the spirit up.

So are churches doing a bad job, or our we being jaded to the holiday? Don't get me wrong; some churches have been known to try something new and crash and burn or they skimp out on their Christmas service. But what about the other 80% of services that are just so-so?

I think the question lies in our own attitude at times. How do we celebrate the holiday? Is it a time to reunite with loved ones and love as Christ loved, or is it a time of reverence in view of His death? Perhaps both, perhaps niether. Either way, churches should have a good balance between the same information and new information (like a modern perspective). I once attented a service where all the guy talked about was the historical validity that the Christmas story actually happened. It would have been a great seminar topic, but it was definitely lost on the families who were prepared for more sustinance. I have also attended services where they just read the story from Luke and had moments for the congragation to "reflect and pray". It drove me nuts.

Churches don't need to think of new and innovative ways to entertain the congregation; things like that should be saved for other services, not Christmas.

Jessica said...

I like Sarah's comment. :) And I'm not familiar with the song Daniel mentioned, so I can't speak to that, haha.

Tom Paisley said...

I think that Bobissaur is on to something. The truth that the church offers at Christmas is necessarily an "old, old story" ( The phrase is from Andrew Peterson's album Behold the Lamb of God.). We are not called to offer a new perspective (sorry, NT Wright) or many convincing proofs or a special experience of Jesus. We are called to tell what God has done. The most important thing about Christmas is simply that it happened, not the way a particular person (Mary, Joseph, Herod, etc.) felt about it or that we can prove it (as if we even could!) or that we have a wonderful new insight. What matters is "a baby God and all his blessed implications" (Sara Groves this time, and the album is O Holy Night). God became weak so that he could claim us as his own and make all things right.

When we try to appeal to anything else, we miss it. It is these attempts to do something new that are so redundant. These pursuit of relevance always ends in failure, because a three-minute description of the fear of the shepherds is manifestly insignificant. Each new way that churches try to get me to say "Wow" is a failure that I can throw into a pile with all the others.

Why not tell the story as simply as possible (but no more simply than possible)? Why not say the words that moved the shepherds to wonder instead of describing their wonder? It would not have moved me to awe to have seen the shepherds wide-eyed, sweating, and stumbling over their feet and their words. It would have moved me to awe to see the angels standing in the heavens and singing "Glory!"

What I mean to say by all of this is that when we are telling the Christmas story, truth and beauty (not innovation) are our values, because these will move people to faith and hope and love.

bobby moss said...

I agree with Sarah's comment as well. It was excellent. You must have had a great youth pastor. =)

But...back to my question... =)

Going off Sarah's one comment - what are specific examples where churches have crashed & burned?

The cheesiest things, the dumbest things, the..."what in the world?" things?

The specifics things like these are what I'm looking for.

Anonymous said...

Things my church has done that I disliked:

Massive choir in christmas colors that sing christmas songs/carols. I can't stand it when my church has sung songs that are christmasy and yet hardly worshipful. Nothing could be more aggravating to me than when a church gets lost in "holiday spirit" and sings these traditional songs that aren't even talking about Jesus Christ.

Loads of pageantry. I would much prefer a very simple christmas service. I think it would be refreshing to many. There is no need for a ton of decorations or lights or entertaining features. It's distracting. Isn't it a contradiction to tell our congregation to "remember the reason for the season" and yet turn around and spend hours and hours and loads of money trying to impress people with our big Christmas service?

Reenactment of Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus at the stable. This is nice for kids church, perhaps not for the adults. :)

When the pastor doesn't even preach a sermon. Hello - what in the world? Christmas is sometimes the only weekend that a family will come to church, and yet many pastors hardly get into the Word of God, but rather just talk in general about Christmas.