Proclaiming the Gospel Though Music at Christmas

Worship leaders face a lot of temptations this time of year.

There’s a great temptation to embrace the sentimental elements of Christmas. Snow falling softly while the fireplace roars and children laugh while eating warm apple pie that Grandma made while singing “Silver Bells” on top of a reindeer. This makes us feel all warm inside but makes no lasting difference to our lives.

Creativity for the sake of helping people hear and celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ in a fresh way is a good thing. But creativity for the sake of saying we’re creative is most certainly not a good thing.

It can be easy to get carried away with trying to be creative this time of year. A Christmas pageant with a real live baby Jesus, surrounded by live animals, standing on hay, surrounded by a choir of angels suspended from the ceiling illuminated in bright light, while the choir sings a Christmas anthem accompanied by a 16 piece string section while a video plays and dancers dance and everyone in the congregation holds pretty little candles.

This might really impress people, make some people cry, and be more elaborate than any other church in town, but when we place creativity as the highest priority on our lists, it usually comes at the expense of the simple and powerful clarity of the Gospel. If creativity serves the goal of making the Gospel as clear as possible, then go for it. But if it gets in the way, avoid at all costs.

Christmas can bring out the traditions like no other season. Traditions can be very good and helpful. But they can also be boring and stale and ineffective. Just because your church has always done it a certain way doesn’t mean that’s the best way.

Oh, if it were only so easy as telling people this and convincing them to try something new. I know it’s not.

If you’re serving in a church with a lot of traditions that you think could use some reevaluating, my advice to you is to tread slowly and softly. You’ll probably have to live with a lot of those traditions you’re not crazy about for a long time. But build trust with people and you’ll earn some capital you can spend on convincing people that there might be a better song than “Come On Ring Those Bells” to open a Christmas Eve service.

Satan hates this time of year when Jesus’ birth is being proclaimed around the world and in the songs being played in the department stores. It’s no wonder, then, that those songs are increasingly watered down and Jesus made to seem incidental rather than central. Sadly, the church too often goes with this flow. Let’s push against it and proclaim with boldness the good news – the best news – of the coming of Jesus Christ.

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