How Churches Across America are Preparing for a Christmas that Falls On a Sunday

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Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, and most metro-area church leaders said their houses of worship will offer church services, though some activities may be streamlined.

“We won’t have Sunday school, but we will have worship,” said the Rev. Mark McAdow, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City.

“I think it’s a great day to worship the Lord on His celebrated birthday. I don’t think you can get any better than that.”

Nearly nine out of 10 Protestant senior pastors said their churches plan to hold services on Christmas Day, according to a recent survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Leaders with the research group said that some megachurches may cancel worship when Christmas falls on a Sunday as they have in the past.

However, they said most churches see Christmastime as an important outreach opportunity to the community at large so worship on Sunday will continue as usual.

“Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year especially at churches, with many churches having extra Christmas Eve services and special programs,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “If Christmas falls on Monday through Saturday, churches might be closed on Dec. 25 — but almost never on a Sunday.”

To view the full survey report, go to LifeWayResearch.com.

Offering multiple holiday services

The metro-area churches that have chosen not to host worship services on Christmas Day are instead offering a slate of Christmas services in advance of the actual holiday.

These services begin this week, continuing on to Christmas Eve.

Leaders at multi-site Edmond-based Life.Church, unarguably the largest of the churches to forego Christmas Day services, said they are encouraging church members to spend Christmas Day with family.

“Ever since Life.Church started more than 20 years ago, we’ve had a long-standing tradition of celebrating Christmas as a church with services all throughout the week leading up to and including Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, we want our whole church to be able to celebrate at home with their families. It’s the tradition we’ve observed throughout our history as a church,” said Bobby Gruenewald, Life.Church’s innovation pastor.

He said the church is offering 186 services across its 26 locations in eight states (service times can be found at http://www.life.church/christmas), and other options are available at Life.Church’s Church Online on Christmas Day, “so people in every time zone and all over the world can experience a Christmas service at http://www.live.life.church.”

Leaders at churches like North.Church and Norman’s JourneyChurch.tv shared similar sentiments.

“We want them to be able to spend time with their families celebrating the birth of Jesus and participating in all those other family traditions,” said Tiffanie Hicks, marketing coordinator at North.Church, which meets at two locations, 1601 W Memorial Road, and Guthrie Upper Elementary School, 702 N Crooks Drive in Guthrie.

Hicks said North.Church is offering individuals and families several options for observing the Christmas holiday with their church family, beginning with “Christmas at North.” She said the first of these identical holiday-themed worship experiences was offered on Dec. 16. Other services will be Saturday and Sunday.

Hicks said candlelight Christmas services will be Dec. 22-24 in Oklahoma City and Dec. 23 in Guthrie. She said these experiences will be similar to a traditional Christmas Eve service. The candlelight services are free, but Hicks said families are encouraged to go online (www.northchurch.tv) to reserve tickets because the worship experiences have proved popular in the past.

JourneyChurch.tv, 3801 Journey Parkway in Norman, planned identical “Christmas Spectacular” services, with the first set for Friday and others set for Saturday and Sunday. Also, multiple Christmas Eve services are being offered Friday and Dec. 24.

As for Christmas Day, the Norman church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Clark Mitchell, said church leaders put together a worship experience to view online at their convenience. He said the setting for the worship experience is a living room, and he anticipates that many families will be viewing it from the comfort of their own living rooms.

“Christmas really is a day about Christ but a day about family, too,” Mitchell said.

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SOURCE: Carla Hinton
The Oklahoman