What Do You Do When Christmas Falls on a Sunday?

What Do You Do When Christmas Falls on a Sunday?

October 5, 2016 by

This year Christmas presents a peculiar wrinkle in your church communication plans: One of the biggest holidays of the year falls on one of the most-attended Sundays of the year.

Rather than a perfect storm that could bust your seating capacity, this confluence of dates could leave your church empty and echoing for Christmas. It’s an issue that comes up every few years, most recently in 2011 and 2005. You’ll face it again in 2022 (and then not until 2033).

No service on Christmas, but we’ll have a pre-recorded, 30-minute Christmas service to broadcast on our online campus.

So how should your church deal with Christmas falling on a Sunday? Business as usual? Scale back? Make Christmas Eve even bigger? We asked a few church communication pros what how they were planning to deal with Christmas landing on a Sunday.

Big Christmas Eve

“We plan to have five Christmas Eve worship services on December 24,” says Crystal Kirkman, the communications director at First Christian Church in Decatur, Ill.

“We haven’t been the church that does Christmas Eve services,” says Evan Courtney, the family life pastor and communications director at The Fields Church in Mattoon, Ill. “[But] this year we’re changing our focus. We are doing Christmas Eve services and all of our marketing will point toward it, and we are wanting it to be a community Christmas Eve service, where anyone in our community who doesn’t typical go to church would feel welcome.”

“We’ll do a production of sorts on Friday and Saturday,” says Michael Buckingham, the experience pastor at Victory World Church in Atlanta.

Most churches we talked to are putting their focus on Friday and Saturday nights, while taking Sunday off.

Low-Key Services on Christmas Sunday

While most churches are taking Sunday off, some are offering more laid-back options on Christmas Day.

“We are opening one central location for people to come and pray and take communion if they want to come to the church as a family,” says Gerry True, the communication arts pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas.

Crystal Kirkman’s church is offering an unplugged worship service on Christmas Day, featuring her lead pastor and his wife, who are former professional musicians.

“This also allows the rest of the staff and band members to enjoy Christmas with their families,” Crystal says.

Online Options for Christmas Sunday

Some churches are turning to technology to deal with Christmas falling on a Sunday.

“For Christmas Day we will not have services on campus but will pre-record a 30-minute Christmas service to broadcast on our online campus,” says Kelvin Co, the creative arts pastor at The Oaks Fellowship in the Dallas Metroplex area.

“We pre-recorded a 15-minute message with Max Lucado in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity and will provide that to families through all of our streaming platforms to watch on-demand in their homes,” says Gerry True.

Remember Your Team

The crush of Christmas services can be especially hard on staff and volunteers. That’s why many churches are opting to scale back for Christmas Day. While Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, so does New Year’s Day, which can make the week after Christmas a challenge as well.

Evan Courtney’s church is taking off both Christmas and New Year’s for the sake of their volunteers.

Business as Usual

And still other churches will stick with the normal Sunday plan. Celebrating Christ’s birth on Sunday when we remember his resurrection can be a special moment.

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

However your church deal with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, we’ve got plenty of resources to help:

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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3 Responses to “What Do You Do When Christmas Falls on a Sunday?”

  • Karen Moeschberger
    October 11, 2016

    We will be doing a come as you are service, in your pajamas and robe as long as you are decently covered. Every time the word joy is spoken or sung, people will ring jingle bells or bells they have brought from home. It makes for a fun worship experience.

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  • Jeanne
    October 11, 2016

    We are actually considering scaling back with the latest service on Christmas Eve so that everyone will be able to attend the Sunday morning worship service.

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  • Carol
    October 12, 2016

    We are having our late morning service only. No early service or Bible study. It will be casual and family friendly, kids in PJs etc. We will have our normal Christmas Eve candle light service and will run normal schedule on Jan 1.

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