I’m not a huge rule-maker. I like to operate in freedom and so I try to leader others that way. I’m strict about very few things.
(Can I be completely honest? — I’d rather break a rule than keep one. Certainly I love to write better rules.)
I’m a little different on Christmas Eve.
I’m strict. I write rules. An ole’ controlling leader.
Our ministerial staff works on Christmas Eve.
Period. No excuses.
That’s harsh, isn’t it?
Christmas Eve is a big deal in this church. Always has been. Long before I became pastor.
We now have 3 services to accommodate crowds, but the church has always had one packed service, which is live on television. Near 100,000 people in our region watch the show and the past couple years we’ve rebroadcast the show several times on Christmas Day. It’s somewhat of a community event.
But, there’s another reason.
Culturally speaking, Christmas has in many ways become the new Easter.
Not theologically of course. You can’t trump the resurrection, but as an opportunity to reach lost people.
They’ll come at Christmas. It’s a culturally acceptable thing to do. A familiar affair. Get dressed up (or not) and gather together to sing familiar Christmas songs. It’s a great family tradition. (I read recently – 57% of people say they’d visit church at Christmas if someone they knows asks.)
And, who can’t love a baby in a manger story? You can attract people at Christmas like no other time of the year.
Think about it: We would never think of staff missing Easter. It’s an “all hands on deck” kind of day.
So, I make Christmas Eve a priority and require our staff to be here.
(Now, in complete transparency, if there were extenuating circumstances with a staff member we would certainly consider them.)
And, sure, it’s difficult on families to understand. I get that. My family has to sacrifice also. We live 4 hours from our family and we now miss Christmas Eve together.
But, if we had a job as a policeman or at a hospital emergency room, no one would question why we had to work. It comes with the job.
And, in church work, Christmas Eve, if it’s done well, can be a great part of the job. Lives are at stake. It’s a vital work. An “all hands on deck” kind of day.
The Gospel is our mission and it shares well on Christmas Eve.