It’s an exciting time to be a pastor. It’s equally exciting to be a consultant. You have to stay on your toes. These times are changing from moment to moment.
For some time, the Effective Church Group has referenced Easter as Alumni Sunday, meaning that it’s a time when members who rarely attend worship may come with their families. But it’s not a day any longer when you see very many first time guests.
The days of mother telling dad and kids to get up and go to church – on Easter or Mother’s Day – are over. Now you see on Facebook how all the moms are getting breakfast in bed for such days.
But Christmas has been different for whatever reason in our culture. There still was some semblance of “we ought to go to church” on Christmas. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of Hallmark movies and Christmas lights which includes the obligatory candlelight worship service to complete the Christmas tradition. But I’ve noticed a couple things in the last two years.
First is that Pew Research indicated that for the first time the majority of Americans do not reference Jesus when asked what Christmas means to them. A common response is the coming together of family. This is huge, and it means we might need to rethink how church intersects culture for Christmas worship in years ahead.
Second, at the same time from my personal world, I’ve noticed far fewer first time guests at Christmas than in previous years. There are a few. But most of the non-regular folks are of the alumni perspective. They are family who have a sense that Christmas still includes some type of worship expression. They would steadfastly consider themselves church members.
So I’m curious. What’s your experience? Is mine just unique, perhaps a two year glitch? Or are we seeing a shift in our society where Christmas is becoming more like Easter. Easter is about a bunny. And Christmas is about Santa. Sorry Jesus. No worship of you.
This year, we promoted Christmas Eve on Facebook, our website, a couple local neighborhood sites, and gave every member a couple printed invitations to give to friends. The response was negligible, sadly. And, the few non-members present did not share any contact info – even though we asked. Sigh.
Thank you, Becky, for your comment. It’s really helpful to hear your experience. I share your frustration. It’s hard to understand how people could resist the best news for their lives. It sounds like you have a heart for the need of people for the Gospel. May God bless your efforts to connect with people who need the touch of the Savior.
I agree with you in terms of the trend. I had noticed it, but not give it much thought until your blog. I’m also finding the same issue that Becky has, the few that come, don’t share any contact information, so you can’t follow up on them and help them to feel more comfortable.
Now that you’ve brought it up, I want to think more about it.
Hi, Don. I so appreciate your comment. I join you in serious thought about how we intersect our culture at times like Easter and Christmas. For those who maybe haven’t tried such, we at The Effective Church Group encourage some sort of enticement for people to share their contact information. For a couple Christmas Eves, we announced at our church that one of the people who filled out a connection card would receive a nice manger scene delivered to their house on Christmas Day. It worked to get more contact information.