November 28, 2011
Closed for Christmas (Redux)
This year Dec. 25 is a Sunday and that poses a challenge for some churches.
Back in 2005 Christmas fell on a Sunday, and many churches (but especially megachurches) decided not to open for services. At the time we ran a series of articles about the decision, the media coverage, and the public's reaction.
Well, once again December 25th is on Sunday and we're wondering how churches will respond to the challenge. For most congregations there is little concern. Sure, the number of people attending may be lower due to family commitments or travel, but even if 1/2 or 1/4 of the usual attenders show up the service may proceed.
The more significant challenge is for larger congregations that require hundreds of volunteers to operate on Sunday and significant offerings to pay for heat and electricity. Back in '05 one megachurch responded to the media firestorm about not opening by emphasizing its desire to honor families by giving volunteers and staff a day off.
The pastor said:
"You chose to value families. People over policy. I've watched too many ministers in my life sacrifice their families on the altar of ministry, and ego and pride ..."
Another spokesperson from the church did acknowledge that there was more than family values at work in the decision not to open on Christmas Day:
"The intent was not to send the wrong message. The intent was to face the reality of our logistics and to still have a meaningful celebration of the birth of Christ."
Logistics is another way of saying that the church requires 90 staff and 700 volunteers to pull of weekend services--and securing that many on Christmas morning was going to be challenging.
But the big questions is, has anything changed since 2005? Will your church be adjusting its schedule on December 25th? And have larger congregations managed to find a way to open on Christmas morning? Should they? Let's hear your thoughts.