Songs have been chosen, arrangements have been written, the copies have been made, rehearsals are happening, and Christmas Eve/Christmas Day is fast approaching.
Being involved in leading worship at Christmas time, especially for the big services with more visitors than usual, and more pressure than most other services during the year, can be stressful, exhausting, and exhilarating.
Here are ten things not to forget this Christmas when you’re standing before your congregation:
1. They want to sing carols. Don’t try to be so creative that you make some of the most singable and familiar songs in the whole world become hard to sing.
2. They need Jesus. Every single person. They don’t need to be wowed or dazzled or impressed by your awesomeness. They need to see Jesus.
3. They’re stressed out. Maybe they’ve wracked up credit-card debt, or they’re hosting a difficult family member, or they’re grieving the loss of a loved one. Give them space.
4. They’ve heard the story before, but they want to hear more. So Jesus was born in Bethlehem and the angels sang and there were some animals around. Is that all there is? Point them to the good news of the gospel, to the person of Jesus, to what God has done for us in Christ.
5. They’ll benefit from your preparation. You’ve been working on some of this music for weeks and months. They’ll sing it and/or hear it once. But God will use your preparation to edify his people.
6. Your identity is in Christ – not in your performance. Maybe you’ll do a great job and get a thousand thank-you emails. Maybe you’ll mess up. Maybe you’ll just do OK. Good news: your identity is in Christ, so you can relax and just do your best and then enjoy Christmas with your family.
7. You’ll need a break. If you’re in the office next week, trying to be productive, you’re most likely crazy.
8. You have a helper and his name is the Holy Spirit. You may feel empty, exhausted, nervous, or a little combination of all of the above. The Holy Spirit is your helper, and your power, and he’s even more concerned that Jesus gets the glory than you are.
9. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity. I’m looking forward to the string arrangements, the brass fanfares, the organ postludes, the choir anthems, the band, and all the special stuff we have planned. But the moment I’m looking forward to the most is the nearly acapella version of “Silent Night” that we’ll sing towards the end of our services. Look for those moments in your services when you – and your congregation – can just simply take a deep breath for a few minutes.
10. We are stewards. We all get to do this, and lead these Christmas songs, for a season. And then someday we pass the baton to someone else. Generations from now, a different worship leader will be leading “Joy to the World” with different arrangements (I hope!), different musicians, and a different group of people in the pews. So, let’s be good stewards of the message of Christmas, and proclaim loudly the message that will be sung for all eternity. It really isn’t about us!
O come let us adore Him!