When planning for a Christmas Eve service, here are 5 tips to make sure it’s simple instead of complex and engaging for both church members and guests.
- Something Old & Something New
While it’s super fun to do that latest modern revamp of your favorite Christmas song that includes wild vocal acrobatics and a sizzling synth lead, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but pause for a moment… and remember to keep some of the traditions involved in this season of traditions. Respecting song choices, that includes keeping the traditional melody lines and the traditional verses.
You don’t have to make excuses for archaic lyrics and you don’t have to change them; they are nostalgia from another time and we all understand that. Just include them as they are; don’t change the melody line of the song or the timing of the melody line. Make it easy for people to sing along, even if you are playing to a catchy new musical arrangement.
Mashups are always a fun way to bridge the gap between traditional Christmas songs and the modern worship songs we do throughout the year, and bridge the gap between our guests and our regular church members. Many worship artists such as Paul Baloche, Chris Tomlin and Lincoln Brewster have produced Christmas albums including such mashup songs, and I highly recommend coming up with some arrangements yourselves! At our church we added the chorus of “This Is Amazing Grace” to “O Come All Ye Faithful” in a joyous upbeat medley, and the people engage with it passionately.
- Make Fun Choices
There are SO MANY Christmas songs that are wonderful songs of adoration, praise & worship, describing elements of Advent and the Nativity in a descriptive, horizontal storytelling manner, just as a beloved old hymn describes the attributes of Christ and the Cross, and some carols do indeed go vertical. These are great choices to include in our gathered worship as we remember what the Father did for us in sending Jesus to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God With Us. Just because it’s a Christmas carol doesn’t mean it’s not also a worship song, ascribing worth to the King of Kings born in a manger.
- Do Some Songs Ahead of Christmas Eve
Repetition breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds confidence, both for your worship ministry team and for the church you are leading in song! Sing some songs repeatedly throughout the season, from weekend to weekend in your main services; ask your children’s ministry to teach a specific one to the kids each week so they can sing along on Christmas Eve (more on that down below). Doing some songs a bunch of times helps build enthusiasm and engagement throughout the season.
- Keep Some Songs Just for Christmas Eve
There are some songs that are poignantly special, and they’re worth saving for the best moments. Away In A Manger as a simple sweet lullaby can be a beautiful prelude to a quiet time of Scripture read aloud or communion; Silent Night & O Holy Night are powerfully intimate when done as a candlelight closing element on Christmas Eve.
- Make It Inclusive
Doesn’t matter whether you’re going for a simple, scaled down service with just an acoustic guitar or a piano, or a giant showy production with a full orchestra, choir, and flying angels, whatever you do: make it something that people are included in as participants, not just spectators. Bring something to the plate for everyone: your regular church members, your twice-a-year folks, your elder saints, your little kids, and those who may have never been inside a church service before. Maybe include a moment in the service where you invite the kids to come up on the platform and join the team in singing! Maybe even plan ahead a little, by making sure you have room for them on the stage, and by doing that one song you asked the children’s ministry to teach them so they sing it with joy and confidence. By making room for the inn for all who come to your service, you will be showing how Jesus makes room at the table for them to taste and see that the Lord is good.
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Author Brendan Prout's long-term goal is to continue raising up and training ministry leaders, providing them with the necessary tools to become effective communicators of the gospel and facilitators of worship from a Biblical perspective. He aims to lead a faith community that is oriented towards God, focusing on glorifying Him and expressing the love of Christ through practical actions.