Planning Christmas with Shawn Wood

Planning Christmas with Shawn Wood

December 1, 2010 by

Planning Christmas is a site dedicated to, well, planning Christmas. The idea is for church leaders to swap, share and steal ideas for planning Christmas services. Shawn Wood, the experience pastor at Seacoast Church, started the idea and talks with us about, um, planning Christmas.

Is it too late to do Christmas planning? Should I just give up now and start on Easter?

Shawn Wood: It’s not too late (although the starting Easter idea is still a good one), however I would say that with each passing day what you can do is affected. So for example don’t try and plan something that should take three months of prep in three weeks—that’s not fair to you, your staff or the church. As my friend Steven Furtick says, “Think inside your box.” (You can hear the Elevation Worship team talking about this on their Planning Christmas video.) Your box gets smaller every day so just do the best with what you have left.

What’s the coolest new idea you’ve heard this year for Christmas?

Shawn: My favorite so far has been from Neil Greathouse and the NewLife Church team.

  1. To shake things up a little they are skipping the pre-Christmas series this year and pouring all of their energy into Christmas Eve. If you are just getting around to thinking about Christmas, that is probably a great principle to copy.
  2. They are going traditional and giving people Christmas carols, scripture reading and as many candles as they can. I love that. People love nostalgic and traditional at Christmas—why do we fight that?
  3. I love the opening song they are doing from a contemporary classical pianist to throw just a little hat tip to say we still live in 2010.  You can see the song here.

When is the best time to have that traditional Christmas service? Christmas Eve? Christmas morning? The Sunday nearest Christmas?

Shawn: In my opinion (or at least in our culture here at Seacoast) we do just a little the weekend before Christmas and then pour on the tradition pretty heavy on Christmas Eve. That seems to work for us here in the Bible Belt.

What about the pastor dressing up as Santa? Cool or no?

Shawn: Depends. Is the pastor reformed or non-reformed? Does he have the Furtick frost, the Furtick bald or the Furtick dark spike? Cause that basically changes the whole deal.

For the procrastinators out there, what’s are three easy, powerful things pastors can do to communicate Jesus this Christmas?


  1. Tell the story of Christmas. Don’t try and get cute. Don’t try and make it more interesting.  It is the most fascinating story of all time. If you could do nothing else but read from the gospel of Luke you would be communicating the greatest story of all.
  2. Don’t bait and switch people with some big show you won’t be able to replicate again until December of next year. Be authentic to who you are as a church and give people a reason to see you again before Easter.
  3. Remember that you will have guests and people have not been in a while. Don’t make fun of them for being Christmas & Easter Christians and don’t assume they know all of the inside jokes from this year or even where the bathrooms are. Make them feel as welcome as Jesus would…

God Rest Ye Stressed Communicators: Planning Christmas for Your ChurchMore Christmas Ideas:


Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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