Monday, January 3, 2022

Blending Christmas traditions and new outreach efforts


By: French Harmon

Over the past few years, I have witnessed a church blending traditional Christmas programs and adding a new outreach efforts during the advent season. Each of these services are very well attended from believers and non-Christians in the community. I believe it is valuable lesson for church leaders to consider. 

As the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Somerset, it was a joy to help organize these events. The "Hanging of the Greens" service held on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving allowed long-time members to cherish their church's history and usher in the advent season. Too often a church can forget the traditions that help build-up the congregation. 

Next was the "Childrens Christmas Program." Months of hard work was involved to tell the Christmas story from the eyes of children. I can still remember being a Shepherd or a wise man in Christmas plays long ago. I would suggest that churches continue this tradition by allowing children to learn the advent lesson by dressing-up as an angel, a shepherd, traveling royalty, a barnyard animal or even Mary and Joseph! It certainly brings a great turnout of family members. 

In Somerset, the annual "FBC Living Christmas Tree" presented by the choir and orchestra is an awesome traditional program for he community. After 45 years, each performance is still at auditorium capacity! The gospel message is masterfully woven into the hour-long event with just the right amount of congregational interaction. Music director, David Pendley, never ceases to amaze the congregants with blending new renditions of the sacred story. Pastor Ryan Coffee stated, "People hear the gospel each night for sure." 

Developing the "Contemporary Christmas Program" was a great joy by church leadership and musicians. Having guided the church to add a new contemporary worship expression, this new advent event was natural. It has now grown exponentially. Innovations  in lighting, sound, instrumentation supplement the blending of beautiful harmony and new songs in this service. Caleb Holder, and his staff of talented musicians, brings energy that particularly connects with younger audiences. If you want to reach young families, I would encourage communicating with Caleb or Sara Robinson at FBC Somerset and for additional information. 

Finally, don't give-up on the Christmas Eve Service. Each year people will plan their family traditions around this spiritual event. With COVID-19 restrictions and family gatherings, it is a good idea to add multiple opportunities for this service. Likewise serving the "Lord's Supper" in a sanitized way gives members in the service an extra measure of protection during these unprecedented times. Singing "Silent Night" while holding a candle to Him is truly a joy for each Christian. I believe people will always want this service if it is given careful attention. 

As church leaders embrace God's calling on their leadership, I would offer this advise. Consider blending traditional and innovative outreach efforts at Christmas to bring maximum benefit for His Kingdom! A watching world is waiting. 

French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

This article was reposted from Kentucky Today.