Why I Love and Hate Preaching on Christmas Eve

Pastors everywhere are now putting their finishing touches on their Christmas Eve sermons. Christmas Eve is an incredible opportunities for churches and pastors to have a significant impact. But they’re also very challenging. In fact, most pastors I know do not particularly like Christmas sermons. Here’s what I love and hate about preaching on Christmas Eve.

Preaching on Christmas Eve

Why I Hate It

1. Everyone thinks they know what you’re going to say. There’s not a lot of question about what you’re preaching on. You’re not talking about marriage, finances, forgiveness, or how to pray. You’re talking about Christmas. The expectation of predictability makes people less likely to really tune in to what is preached.

2. Preachers are expected to be creative. Because of the above expectation, it puts a lot of pressure on pastors to be extra-creative. How are you going to make this same familiar story interesting? What fresh angle are you going to take? How will you surprise and challenge people? Everyone’s coming–it better be good! These questions and ideas rattle around in the preacher’s head, adding a level of pressure that often makes it even harder to be creative.

3. Traditions trump truth. Christmas is puffed up with so many other things that seem to get more focus from people than the truth of it–and I don’t even mean all the commercialism. People are thinking about getting their daughters in pretty Christmas dresses, preparing their traditional Christmas Eve dinner, or singing the songs they’ve always loved. They’re sentimental, but not serious. The distraction of tradition–even well-meaning Christian tradition–makes focusing on something substantial more difficult.

Why I Love It

1. Many non-Christians are there. Whether out-of-town family or in-town guests, Christmas Eve services are filled with people who don’t regularly attend church. What a great opportunity. Pastors must be sure to speak in a way that acknowledges and engages these non-Christians.

2. Christmas really is a great story. God became a man. Wow. Pastors, don’t get bored with this truth. It’s earth-shattering. Help people feel how great this story truly is.

3. You can showcase your regular ministry. On Christmas Eve it’s important to give people a good picture of what a normal gathering is like. We try to do a very good version of a normal service with a few special elements rather than an over-the-top thing that is foreign to a typical Sunday. People should hear the kind of preaching they’d hear on a Sunday (even if a little shorter) and sing the style of music they’d sing on a Sunday. You wouldn’t want them to come back the next week and think, “What happened to this place?” Additionally, you can use your printed pieces on Christmas Eve to promote ongoing ministry rather than just upcoming events.

4. You can collect money for important, outward causes. People are eager to give on Christmas. Non-Christians too. That’s why we’re doing a Christmas Offering. I don’t feel bad asking non-Christians to give to causes that will really make a difference in the community. It allows them to make real spiritual decisions (giving is a spiritual decision), and the money goes to great things.

In the end, there are more reasons to love preaching on Christmas Eve than to hate it.

I’ve got my Christmas Eve sermon ready. I’m looking forward to God working among us. And I’m praying that God would use these services across his Kingdom so that people would respond with faith to his good news.

Question:

For you, what are the best and worst parts about Christmas Eve Services?

Published by

Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since. In July of 2006, we welcomed a baby girl, Abby, into our family.

9 thoughts on “Why I Love and Hate Preaching on Christmas Eve”

  1. This is totally true! Many non-Christians do attend church for Christmas Eve. Even my mom will be attending a Christmas Eve church service in Seattle. It’s a great time for Pastors, or anyone for that matter, to clearly preach the gospel. Even though Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas, it is still a celebration of the greatest gift ever given.

    Since these non-Christians are likely only coming to a church this one day, maybe again on Easter, it’s perfectly fine to share with them the fact they their sin separates them from God. It’s always important, but even more so on this day, to explain to all that sin is breaking God’s law. By thoroughly explaining the Law that they’ve broken, it will help them to understand and desire the Gift that God’s given. Unlike the wrapped gifts under the tree, the Gift of Jesus Christ is only received, if it’s received through repentance and faith (genuine trust).

    Whether you’re a pastor, or a layperson, this Christmas season, and always, be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies with in you. Understand that the Law (the 10 Commandments) acts as a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ, that they might be justified by Faith. Don’t forget to explain what sin is and that it’s the problem (not loneliness, lack of money, a poor relationship with one’s father). Remember that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully (to show a sinner his need for the Savior) and that the law was not meant for the righteous person, but for sinners.

    Pastor Luke is good about explaining to sinners that sin is what separates them from God and eternal life. If you’re inviting non-Christians to this, or any, Christmas Eve service, I pray that God will open their ears to hear about the greatest Gift they’ll ever know, Jesus Christ. And remember that even though Pastor Luke will preach the Gospel, you also can speak to your friends and loved ones to share the message of Hope with them. If you’re not sure what to say, check out http://www.GodsWonderfulPlan.com, OR simply remember this:

    Sin is breaking God’s Law, which we’ve all done (Lying, stealing, etc.). Sin is what separates us from God and earns us Hell. Jesus died on the cross to pay the fine for the sin. We need to transfer our trust from believing in ourselves and our good works, to Jesus and His perfectly Good work on the cross. Then God will forgive our sin and grant us the GIFT of everlasting life. We’ll get to go to heaven not because we are good, but because Jesus is perfect, and He died on the cross to pay the fine for our sins.

    1. Dang, Brandt. Preach it. I’ve hardly ever been more heartbroken than a few years ago when I went to a church that basically said the gospel was to be a good person. So sad.

  2. I Do not expect you to be creative…I expect you to teach the word from you heart (: Luke, thank you for being you and teaching the Truth.

  3. Interesting insight Luke. I’ve always been amazed that any preacher can keep it interesting week to week. It’s a testament to the gift you’ve received, that it is interesting, relevant and Biblical every week. I’m thankful for your gift.

  4. Best: CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!! I love love love Christmas songs and can’t wait to sing them!

    Worst: Back-to-back-to-back services. Not so much for me, but for my poor kids!! I’ll be bribing them with lots of Christmas treats. =D

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