This post is inspired by the always great Geoff Surratt and his blog post here
There are 5 days between Christmas Eve and Sunday 29th, which is to say that most pastors will be planning 3 different worship gatherings in an 8 day period. Sunday Dec 22, Tues Dec 24th, Sunday Dec 29th.
What will people experience at these 3 services? Will the gap between styles of service be “one small step” or “one giant leap?” If people were to attend the big Christmas service and then come back the following Sunday, would they recognize that they are at the same church?
We wrestled this issue to the ground several years ago with the unexpected benefit of not having resources to “wow” people. We were small (around 180 people), had no money, and we met in an Elementary Cafeteria. I wish I were making this up, but when you got up to receive communion, Many Moore’s “Got Milk” poster was looming overhead. Tony Hawk was grabbing the rails right next to the body-of-Christ-broken-for-you. So rather than trying to wow when we had no wow, we pledged to simply offer what we had.
– The Bible, preached (hopefully) in a relevant and engaging way.
– an opportunity to worship through song and communion.
– a welcoming DNA, no matter what you’ve done and what’s been done to you. No previous church experience necessary.
These 3 “offerings” have the great benefit of being largely recession proof AND just happen to be what people are most craving. They also had the benefit of welcoming churched and unchurched people on equal terms.
Don’t get me wrong, the powerful special, cool video or drum line with black lighting is amazing and a treat. They definitely inspire and excite. But what most people want is to make sense of their lives, meet folks who aren’t freaky, and encounter God.
Not necessarily in that order.
And people can come and receive that on any given Sunday. But if you “pull out all the stops” on one Sunday, and the next Sunday have only holes where the “stops” used to be, you’re going to confuse folks. So for our “special” sundays, we aim to “be the best version of our normal selves” and not some special production that has nothing in common with a normal Sunday. That way, any special item we add is fun to be sure, but not the meat of what we offer. And we can offer that every Sunday, special music or not, cool video or not. Live camel or not.
Ok, actually, live camels are cool year round.
So what’s your approach. Will the gap between Christmas Eve and the next Sunday be one small step or one giant leap?