No church on Christmas?

No, these days people want a family Christmas instead.

Internet monk is on a roll. This rest of this post is him, responding to many large churches not having church on Christmas (a Sunday) this year, as he puts it, to give "congregations, volunteers, staffs- and thousands of twice a year attenders- the day off to spend with their families:"

This "does play, in my opinion, into one of the primary idolatries of this culture: family. The mega-churches have banked everything on Christ as a MEANS to family success, good parenting, etc. What about Christ’s claim that supercede even family life? Morning worship isn’t the essence of that claim, but there is something important here.

"I’d like to see some evidence that the megachurches are not pandering to the consumeristic, recreational idolatries of the culture, and this is a good place to start.

"the gathered congregation is the Christian’s primary family. Jesus often put his standards of discipleship in terms of choices between himself and family expectations. How do we communicate this to our children?.... opting out of Christmas worship on the Lord’s Day seems to communicate a lot about the relationship of church and family.

"there is a kind of idolatry of family that evangelicals regularly refuse to engage. It appears that when the choice is between honoring Christ in a meaningful tradition that thousands relate to, or giving place to the perceived needs of family life in middle class America, the choice is a very simple one for the megachurches. I believe the family precedes the church in God’s economy, but I do not believe the most basic acts of the gathered congregation should be evaluated primarily as they affect the contemporary idea of family.

"Repentance from promoting a staff environment that causes baby to not recognize daddy doesn’t start with cancelling Christmas. It starts with the whole culture of the megachurch.

"I would gladly assert the liberty of families to decide what they are doing on any Lord’s Day. There would be no lists of those who proved they were traitors.... [But] Make it plain that Christ, not culture, not family, not the agenda of the staff, has preeminence and the place of honor for God’s people."


  1. I take it these are excerpts. I agree heartily, and would go further to point out that a Christian family that neglects the gathering together with God's people on the Lord's Day, is rebelling against their Lord and Saviour.

  2. Yes, they are excerpts, Mr. Vellenga. My desire for brevity in quoting others often results in imperfect flow of thought.

    I do find that people think they have an easy cloak for not being committed to the church. The cloak is their family. "No, we can't make it to the service, we have family commitments." They think this makes it all right. I'm still developing a plan to come at this...

    I appreciate your contributions on Renew list as well...

  3. Tim Rotman12:49 PM

    Hi Steve,

    I do think it is only fair to point out that Willow will have a Christmas Eve service that an estimated 50,000 people will attend. They have also produced a DVD for everyone who attends to take home and use as a family devotional/worship time in their homes on Christmas morning.

    While I have some misgivings about canceling the service and the message it sends in regards to who our "first" family is, I think that they are genuinely trying to reach out to families in a unique way, rather than merely caving into some cultural family selfcenteredness.

  4. Tim, I'd reiterate InternetMonk's thought: "I’d like to see some evidence that the megachurches are not pandering to the consumeristic, recreational idolatries of the culture."

    And I genuinely would, so if you have even anecdotal evidence, it would greatly edify me.

    We can't search the hearts or impute motives of groups of seeker-sensitive megachurch leaders. But we can know them by their fruits.

    I think megachurches are like Walmart or Lowe's - giving customers what they want better than anyone else, and thus getting a larger market share. Some self-consciously adopt this model, even in the Church Herald recently!

    This is fine, and makes sense - from the world's view. The problem is that the church shouldn't be about giving customers what they want.

    The megachurch is selling gazillions of $2 made-in-China "products" (glitzy, very expensive looking, but shallow), while the traditional church simply has no sales reps and can't offer the same wide selection.

    As usual, the market-Kingdom ultimately works/grows on a word-of-mouth basis, with individuals, no matter what kind of church home, passionate about their product-Lord (how's that for a compound noun?!)introducing a friend to Him.

    This grew so long I'll probably repost it!

  5. Tim Rotman2:22 PM

    I recently attended the A2 Conference at Willow Creek where I heard countless examples of how they and other WCA churches are genuinely trying to reach people for Christ -- not, in my opinion, merely pandering to culture.

    What I heard there was not an emphasis on "giving people what they want" but rather "reaching people where they are at". This to me isn't consumeristic, it is incarnational.

    Remember when Jesus said that we are to be the salt of the earth? When trying to get salt to livestock there are basically two ways to do it: 1) set up a salt block in the pasture and hope the animals will be smart enough to get some when they need it. OR 2) Mix the salt in with their feed.

    Too many of our churches have become salt blocks saying "Here we are!" and lamenting the fact that the shepherdless sheep aren't smart enough to know how badly they need what we have to offer. I think that what Willow and other churches are trying to do (that often gets accused of being consumeristic) is finding new and creative ways to get the Gospel messsage out into a world that has obviously chosen not to come to church.

  6. I agree with much of the salt block vs salt in feed idea. But the church corporately, or as an identity or a program cannot, by definition be salt-in-the-feed. This is the church scattered.

    I think it's grabbing the wrong end of the tool, to program the whole church to be salt. The church should equip individual Christians to be salt.

    If the church militant's task is to show the world a different way, it doesn't make much sense for the Church to broadcast to the world: Christmas is about family. That would be like Pres. Bush saying to the world: "we believe violence and terror is an acceptable vehicle to bring one's complaints before the world." It gives up a key principle over which we are fighting.

    Generally speaking, the Great Commission will be fulfilled better by living *differently* from the world, rather than by fitting Jesus *into* the world...

    We agree on the goal: more followers of Jesus; I am not less mission minded because I disagree with the megachurch's means to that goal.

  7. I like Monk's ten reasons why closing was wrong. Lots to chew on...

    Scott N