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Overthinking Christmas Congregational Worship?

Each year as we rush in towards Christmas, worship leaders begin searching for what other churches are doing for their December services.  After all, the rule for Christmas music in worship has always been clear, right?…

Christmas music begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving and ends Christmas.

Each year, the end game is to figure out what songs are new…what songs are cool…and how to avoid the key change in “Unspeakable Joy” that makes us strain our voices each year?

Here’s something, however, that I’ve observed over the years:

The songs that we introduce to our congregations during the Christmas season – actual Christmas-related songs – don’t gain as much traction as we would like.  Why?  We’ve been taught how to properly introduce songs in order to help the songs become singable and have long-term success.  The problem is that the few short weeks we have at Christmas does not afford us the same song cycle for the new songs we pick to gain as much traction.  By the time we break out the songs for the next year – they are received almost like they were brand new.

So what is the solution?  My solution is NOT to forgo ever doing new songs.  I think there is always something great with having new songs to sing in the worship of our God.  My solution is a little more simple and organic…

…dont overthink it.

That’s it.  Don’t overthink things to the point that we are making our entire worship season at Christmas filled with songs that our congregation is grasping to catch up with.  Instead – stick with the old traditional carols and traditional Christmas hymns…and embrace them.  Last week, I did a mashup of Silent Night and How He Loves.  I can assure you that How He Loves has been sung in our church congregation 100’s of times more than Silent Night ever has…but would you care to guess which song in the mash-up our congregation sung louder in?  The truth is simple: more people recall and have familiarity with Silent Night.  They don’t even need the words.  It sparks something within them.  For most of them, they may have even sung it as a child in a secular setting.  Now, being able to apply the song in a church setting, it takes on deeper roots from the seeds once planted as a child.

Try it out this season: instead of making a set of modern Christmas worship tunes, take an entire Sunday to do traditional songs.  See if there isn’t a large amount of engagement from a large generational span.

Talk About It…

  1. What do you think about the article?  Do you agree?  What have YOU found successful during the Christmas season to keep your congregation engaged?
  2. What are your favorite traditional Christmas songs to sing at Christmas?

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