1) Don’t lose the wonder.
Don’t lose sight of the main thing. Amidst rehearsals and planning, stressing about what to do, and the array of new songs and arrangements don’t forget to pause and marvel at the Christmas story.
Advent = arrival. Has the arrival of Jesus, this great rescue of God for our hearts that were held captive by sin, become old to you? Then stop right now and read the Christmas story. Read it not for planning and prep but for your own heart to be captured once again by this amazing truth: God came in the flesh to redeem people that were held captive by sin. If we are not captivated by the narrative, how are we going to lead people to a place of reverence and awe for what God has done?
2) Embrace the nostalgia.
We often think we need to give people something different at Christmas time that tops the charts compared to what we did the previous year. If we are honest, oftentimes we have just personally lost the wonder and so we think some new Christmas song and arrangement is the thing that will revive Christmas.
We can fall into the trap of thinking that an immaculate production or some particular service element will satisfy our insatiable appetite for entertainment. But what if we flipped the script? What if instead of resenting the nostalgic aspect of the Christmas season we used it to our advantage?
A battle we often face when it comes to people engaging by singing during our worship services is a lack of familiarity with the songs. Often what we are dealing with is that we have a bunch of people gathered together that don’t have much of an appetite for worship music. They don't know the songs, and they already feel self-conscious about trying to fumble through lyrics and a melody that they don't know. So, they simply stand watching.
During the Christmas season, the barrier of people not knowing the songs is virtually eliminated. What an amazing opportunity to challenge our congregations to engage.
So use nostalgia to drive engagement. Use it to relate to people. Ask them what their favorite Christmas hymn or carol is and why. Get to know your people and point their hearts to the story of longing for the Messiah.
Check out the definition of nostalgia:
A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.
The condition of being homesick; homesickness.
From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
Ever since the fall of man, the human soul has been longing for restoration. We know things are not as they should be. Christmas tells the beginning of the story of God's rescue plan to cure the ache of spiritual homesickness. God came in the flesh, entering human history so that He could radically alter the grim fate that we all face apart from His redeeming grace.
3) Keep It Simple.
Don’t overcomplicate Christmas. Think about how complicated things get during this season already. People's schedules are full, their minds are preoccupied with how they are going to get it all done. Often the one pause they get in this very busy season is sitting in a church service singing Christmas hymns and carols. If we focus on flash and the latest fads, we run the risk of adding to the noise.
So cut the clutter. Don’t underestimate the value of the hymns and carols in their simplest form, and shepherd both your own heart and the heart of your congregation to revel in the Christmas story once again this season.