What About Christmas?!
’Twas the month before Christmas
When all through the church
The Worship Leader was stirring,
Wondering if they really wanted to go through with all of the extra preparation and headaches of trying to facilitate a month’s worth of Christmas songs leading up to the biggest celebratory service of the year…
Okay, so that’s not a very good poem, but it is a pretty accurate one. As Worship Leaders in the twenty-first century, what do we do about Christmas?!
This is not an easy question to answer, and ultimately each church will have to come to their own conclusions. To Christmas, or not to Christmas -that is the question! I can only offer my best advice and best practices as you determine what really is best for you and your setting:
Have a plan! For too many Worship Leaders, Christmas somehow seems to just appear out of nowhere! One day it’s Thanksgiving and the next day you are attempting to perform Handel’s Messiah. It doesn’t have to be that way! Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Plan ahead so you can enjoy it! Personally, I like to mix a few Christmas songs in for the first service after Thanksgiving, then sing all Christmas songs throughout the month of December. But that’s just me. And that takes a lot of preparation. Maybe you prefer to mix in Christmas songs throughout the month of December, or wait until the week before December 25 to do Christmas songs. Either way, just have a plan and execute it.
Recycle, Reuse, Renew. Don’t feel like you have to come up with completely new Christmas songs every year. It has been 11 months since the congregation has sung Christmas songs. Last year’s set list is probably just as relevant this year. Recycle old Christmas hymns, reuse the songs that went over well the year before, and feel free to renew a song or two with some well-thought-out changes.
Only make changes that make the songs better. If you are going to make changes to a song that everybody knows and loves, be warned that your changes had better be worth it!! Please do not change a classic, well-loved Christmas melody “just because”. That is neither loving nor wise. Baby Jesus grew up and said that you would be blessed if you are persecuted because of righteousness. That verse does not apply here. Trust me, you will not be blessed if you are persecuted for messing up a Christmas song.
Honor your elders! The older members of your church have been singing certain Christmas songs in a certain way for 50, 60, 70, or even 80 or more years! That is worthy of honor! Keep those members in mind as you work through Christmas song arrangements. That old arrangement that is so boring you can hardly even stand it may have more meaning, depth, and sentimental value to the elderly in your congregation than you can currently even fathom. Don’t mess with their precious Christmas memories that are older than you are. Honor your elders.
Don’t feel like you need all of the instrumentation. Some of the great Christmas Carols are hard to accompany. So don’t. Just put the instruments down, maybe pick up a candle, instead, and sing your heart out in honor of the King of kings who humbled Himself by being born of a virgin as a helpless, human boy. If He was willing to lay down the riches of heaven, you can lay down your instrument.
Have fun! Christmas should be a time of good news and great joy! Don’t let the stress of the Christmas Set List steal your joy! Wear an ugly sweater, throw on a Santa hat, have a Worship Team Christmas Party, wear a jingle bell wristband, and celebrate the glorious birth of our Savior through joyful music and song!
Artwork provided by my good friend, Brooke Gehman, an authentic and wonderful man of God, devoted follower of Christ, and an amazing husband and father. Brooke is a gifted Worship Leader, an incredible artist, and a Potter by trade (check out his website).