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Blog // Thoughts
December 8, 2005

Churches Closed For Christmas?

This was one of the oldest posts in the cache, something I started writing in 2005. First, is the original draft cleaned up, then some comments as to our church situation today. – – – – – – – – – A while back I stumbled on this newstory. Apparently some megachurches were cutting back […]

This was one of the oldest posts in the cache, something I started writing in 2005. First, is the original draft cleaned up, then some comments as to our church situation today.

– – – – – – – – –
A while back I stumbled on this newstory. Apparently some megachurches were cutting back on Christmas day services. To be blunt, that seems absurd to me. Brad Boydston also blogged the story and commented,

“The reason given for the closures on what has historically been considered one of the Church’s highest holy days (“holidays”) is that this allows staff members and volunteers to spend the holiday, which is on Sunday this year, with their families. I suspect, though, that more so, these churches know that they’ll have a hard time drawing a crowd for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. In a consumer-driven culture you really only get a single shot at people during any given week. And since Christmas Eve tends to be the largest crowd draw of the year — that one wins out.”

I found it surprising that for contemporary churches, Christmas eve would have a bigger draw; that is not my experience in the UK or Australia. Moreover, it has always seemed to me that Christmas is the holy day that most attracts non-Church folk to services (maybe the only day that does). Finally, it seems a dangerous capitulation to the consumerisation of Christmas.

Brad Boydston also linked two other great blogposts, one from . Following up on the story and its implications.

– – – – – – – – –
Well that was then, this is now. Church hasn’t played much of a role in our Advent and Christmas this year. We’ve been at the same church for over two years now and although our schedule has gone up down, there have been decent spells we were have been steady and weekly attenders. It’s pretty obvious the Senior Pastor still doesn’t know our name. When people who have seen us week in and week out at church see us on the street, they don’t typically bother to say hello or return our hellos. We missed three weeks a while back, because of travel, illness and our own inertia and, rather than get a call, or message to ask how we were, we got an anonymously addressed letter asking for donations to the church’s increased budget for the next year.

Will we even go to church this Christmas? It’s still touch and go.

The last year and especially the last six months have been a lesson for me in how easy it is for people to drift out of church. Notice I didn’t say faith, but church. For me there is a big and yawning gap between the two. However, it’s not a gap I want, or welcome.

I can’t help but feel that part of the problem comes back to a programmatic understanding of church (with youth ministry being the prime example of this). Church becomes a house of programmes and belonging is connected to a time investment in two or three programmes. Anything less and you are not really “committed” which can easily carry the message that you, yourself are not worth the investment of time and friendship.

It’s a consumer economy where the currency is time, rather than money.

Of course, when you are young, time is not that much of a barrier to entry. In fact, for many teenagers (at least when I was a teenager), time is a surplus commodity. But, as an adult, with a family, a job, friends you struggle to keep in touch with and a list of incomplete projects as long as your arm, time is rarer than diamonds.

Which leaves us where today. If our church cancelled their Christmas services would we notice?

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