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Avoiding Experiments at Christmas

Avoiding Experiments at Christmas

Posted October 11, 2012 by Jerod Clark

Christmas planning at your church is most likely underway.  And while some churches may be further along in the process than others, there’s one thing I want you to think about this year.  Are your services going to be an experiment or something tried and true?

The inspiration for this question stems from a 2012 Echo Conference session where Stephen Brewster talked about the creative process.  As Creative Arts Pastor at Cross Point Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee, he was honest and open about how he ruined Easter one year.  They dreamt big and did something very experimental that ended up missing the true message of Easter: the hope that comes from Jesus’ resurrection.  He went on to talk about how big weekends at churches, like Easter and Christmas, are times to avoid experiments.  He said, “We have 50 other weeks to try something new.”

For me, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do creative things.  You can create an awesome experience.  What it does mean, however, is that people coming to church on Christmas have expectations in their head.  They have some sort of emotional tie to Christmases past.  Especially for people who haven’t been to church in awhile, they are coming back because those positive, past memories are something they are looking for today.

I bet you’ll find your members have certain expectations, too.  Maybe it’s the anticipation of singing some favorite Christmas carols.  Or it could be an expectation of hearing a joyful message based on the Christmas story.  Whatever those things are, there’s a tradition that comes along with Christmas for which people yearn.  And when they walk into an experience so far disconnected from that, they turn off.  It may not be as big a deal for members.  They might be disappointed, but they’ll be back next week.  (Although if they brought friends and were embarrassed by the service, they may not invite someone again.)  But for that person visiting for the first time or coming back after years of being away, an out of the norm experience means they may never come back.  It’s a lost opportunity.

Celebrate the joy and warmth of Christmas. Be creative.  Stay true to who you are as a church.  Avoid experiments.  Do you agree?

Filed under: Communications, Creative Process, Worship Service, Christmas

About the Author

Jerod Clark

Jerod joined ReFrame Media in 2007 and built Church Juice from scratch. He poured all his passion for branding, marketing, and messaging into the ministry, publishing e-books, blog posts, and speaking at conferences to help churches energize their communications. He also served as ReFrame’s in-house graphic designer. Before beginning his work at Church Juice, Jerod was a local TV news reporter. In 2016, Jerod stepped away from the ministry to pursue interests in marketing and communications on new horizons.

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Comments (5)

  • Jonathan
    11:50 AM
    Thu, Oct 11, 2012

    Agreed. I think you need to find a balance between keeping things fresh, but also holding to those traditions people love and look for.

  • Joe
    8:08 AM
    Tue, Oct 23, 2012

    For the most part I agree.  The only thing I would chance is your last statement (and yes, this is nit picking a bit): “But for that person visiting for the first time or coming back after years of being away, an out of the norm experience means they may never come back.  It’s a lost opportunity.”

    The goal is not to have a visitor return, but to have them come to Christ, regardless of whether they come to our service again or not.

    Just a thought.

  • Jerod Clark
    9:17 AM
    Tue, Oct 23, 2012

    I absolutely agree with you Joe.  Our goal is for people to come to Christ.  The point I was trying to make, and maybe didn’t do it so well, is if that person doesn’t come back, we’ve lost the opportunity as a congregation to help them into that relationship with Christ.  If they come and have a bad experience, they may not come back and give up on the whole thing. 

    Thanks for you thoughts.  Good stuff.

  • stephen
    11:02 AM
    Wed, Oct 24, 2012

    Glad you caught the point. I totally would agree that we MUST be creative every week. Creativity & Risk are not always necessary at the same time tho!

    Glad you were inspired by the session.

  • Leona
    11:49 AM
    Thu, Nov 15, 2012

    Thanks for not missing the point of The Story. I wrote some reflections on this a few years ago in a blog I was contributing to at the time.: http://graceandgravity.blogspot.com/2009/12/looking-for-baby-jesus.html

    We need to be creative and fresh, yes. But what could be more creative than the drama of the Nativity?

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