Christmas is a unique time of year for the church. We have a message to share, but it seems people are so busy during the holidays it becomes hard to find the time to prepare for a big event or even find a date when people will be able to attend. How do we effectively connect with families without just adding to the chaos of the season?
For the past 20 years I have directed a Christmas musical at my church. It became a tradition for our community. People looked forward to the musical every year, and we had a great crew of people involved in pulling it off. Since I moved to a new position and ministry this year, I no longer was part of the tradition I had built and grew for the past 25 years. This year has been the start of many new things, and a new Christmas tradition was one of them. My wife and I wrote and produced the musicals we presented in the past, but we did not have the personnel to effectively pull that off this year. I have always wanted to do something that was interactive for families but did not want to simply present a live nativity, the solution… Experience Christmas.
Experience Christmas is an interactive event for the whole family. We set up a Bethlehem Market in our fellowship hall where families could taste food from the time of Jesus’ birth, the kids could make a toy, or people could stop and watch an artist work clay on the pottery wheel. They could even stop at the synagogue and hear the Rabbi read prophecies about the coming Messiah. In our sanctuary, we presented a short musical presentation with music, drama and dance. We did several performances throughout the evening. In our chapel we had an art gallery featuring nativity sets. Of course, there were refreshments in each area and live music in the market and gallery spaces.
What made this event unique was the number of volunteers involved in helping it run. Volunteers of all ages, which I love as I watch them interact with each other. There were jobs for everyone no matter the gifts or skill set. If someone had limited time, there was still a place for them to serve. One of the greatest things about the event is the ability to expand and add more each year. The musical performance in the sanctuary also allows your creative side to come out as you pick music and plan for the performance. If you don’t have a choir, using a small ensemble can be just as effective. Shawnee Press has music that works for a choir or small ensemble. Consider adding a solo dancer or even some kids to one or two of the pieces. We used Brad Nix’s “Light the Candle, Mary” and had two young girls do a simple dance routine.
If you are looking for something new and different to do during the Christmas season, think outside the box. Experience Christmas is not a brand new concept (after all there is nothing new under the sun), but it becomes a new and unique event when you tailor it to fit your musicians and church.
Merry Christmas and
Sing on, friend!