This Christmas, Go Old School

What I learned hosting a contemporary Christmas service that made me decide to go old school

I’m starting out this holiday season with something Christmas themed this week and throwing a free resource your way. I’ve got a great resource for you pastors and worship leaders. I compiled a Lessons and Carols service that you can use with ease. Just follow the script and have a complete service put together for you. You can download it here for free.

Ever think about shaking things up? Doing Christmas totally different this year? Think again. Many years ago our church staff, driven by my idea, decided to go totally contemporary at our three Christmas Eve services. I was tired of the traditional Christmas service and thought we should rock out this year and do new arrangements of Christmas carols, led by our full band. It looked great on paper. What happened that night broke my heart.

As a worship pastor, my heart’s desire was to see people, young and old, connect with God during our corporate worship. I don’t care about being cool or slick; I want Christ to be honored and hearts to be changed. Please know that our band did “rock out.” We played our hearts out and played well. Quality was not the issue—you could have recorded us and played it on the radio. What broke my heart was the spirit in the room and the looks on the faces in the congregation.

As I was leading the songs and looking out at the people, it hit me as loud and clear as could be: this is not what people want on Christmas Eve. We are pretty contemporary and edgy 51 weeks out of the year, but on Christmas, people really want to sing traditional carols in a classic setting. I noticed a lot of people had family that had come to town for the holiday. grandpa and grandma, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc. that hadn’t been to church in 20 years; these are the people that I was looking out at.

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The next year I decided we would do a very traditional “lessons and carols” service. I looked at examples from all over and then put together our own service. It was a total success. From young children singing with their parents to parents singing beside the grandparents, everyone participated and the looks on the faces and spirit in the room were totally different—in a good way! I was so amazed at the response and how much people enjoyed the service (which can be done on a Sunday morning or night, not just Christmas Eve) that I wanted to pass on our service for you to use as a launching pad. Please take this sample Lessons and Carols service and make it your own.

If you’ve done the modern Christmas thing for several years (like we did last year with glow sticks instead of candles), try this to mix things up and allow your congregation and the children of your church to experience an old-fashioned Christmas worship experience.

Thanks and happy holidays!

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This article originally appeared on GregAtkinson.com and is reposted here by permission.