Why Churches Shouldn’t Cancel Services On Christmas Day

Jesus has invited us to his birthday celebration, but many are staying home and opening their presents, instead.

g_shane_morrisBy    Thefederalist.com

“Merry Christmas” or “happy holidays”? That was the big question in the ongoing “Christmas wars.” Last year’s skirmish over Starbucks’ seasonal red coffee cups proved there are still a few Christmas warriors out there, on both sides.

Of course, the majority of Christians have no interest in chewing out minimum-wage baristas. We don’t mind when neighbors, coworkers, or grocery store clerks wish us “happy holidays.” But we do want to lovingly proclaim the reason behind the season. That’s why it’s so strange that this year, many churches—particularly megachurches—are cancelling services on the Lord’s Day because it coincides with Christmas.

There are no exact figures on how many American churches are locking their doors on the 25th. But a quick search shows that most of the churches Christianity Today listed as closing up shop in 2005 are doing so again this year (Willow Creek and Mars Hill have, thankfully, opted to hold services on Christmas). Other influential megachurches like Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, and Buckhead Tower Point in Atlanta, have stuck to their guns. Obviously, this is still an issue, even in the heart of the Bible Belt.

The number of churches hopping on this bandwagon may be higher than many think. As soon as word got out that I was writing about this, emails from friends and coworkers who said their churches are also cancelling Sunday services began filling my inbox. One colleague told me that she and her husband want to honor the Lord’s Day, but said they’d have to find a different church if they want to worship Jesus on Christmas morning.

Because Christmas Is About My Feelings

Why is this happening? The first time Christmas fell on a Sunday this century, The Chicago Tribune interviewed the pastor of one multi-campus Illinois megachurch about their decision not to hold services. “We don’t see it as not having church on Christmas,” this pastor explained. “We see it as decentralizing the church on Christmas—hundreds of thousands of experiences going on around Christmas trees. The best way to honor the birth of Jesus is for families to have a more personal experience on that day.”

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