December 4, 2019
Way back in the day when churches had choirs, many of them would rehearse a few extra Christmas songs, get some kids to join them for a pageant part, rehearse it once, and call it a Christmas program. It was often done on Christmas Eve. Around 50 years ago, church music publishers began to produce Christmas music events they called cantatas, and these events started to become a bit more organized and sophisticated. Then came the living Christmas trees, the flying angels, the incredible lighting displays, the live animals, the endless rehearsals and endless performances. The larger the church, the bigger the budget, the more extravagant the event, leaving other churches in the area with the "Why even bother?" reaction.
Along the way, various goals were pursued. Some larger churches charged a hefty fee for tickets because the funds paid for all of the expense of the concert and funded the annual music and technology budget for that church. Others used the attraction of the event to grow the music program, since many musicians enjoy playing in front of as many people as possible. For many years, we have done a Christmas concert, but our goal has been simple: share the gospel. And since the gospel is free, it never made sense to us to charge a bunch of money for tickets so that people can hear the gospel. Our tickets are free.
Through the years, we have done some excellent and rather creative things. Honestly, we have had a lot of fun doing these concerts, even while sharing the gospel with many people. But even with excellent musicians and quality programs, there has been an undeniable trend in the last decade. The holidays have become insane. Every school has concerts. Every organization has an event. Every office has a party. Every family gets together numerous times. The number of holiday concerts and holiday events in the area is astounding. So the idea of taking your children to church and sitting through 90 minutes of Christmas music (that we have heard in stores since Columbus Day), is not all that appealing to people who are just plain spread out too thin. The attendance at these concerts has trended downward. Many of you have honestly shared this. I certainly understand that. I also understand that there is nothing in the Bible that tells us that we have to have a choir, much less do a Christmas concert. We've had to ask, is it time to set this aside? Is it really worth all of the effort? And yet...
In our setting and at this time, there are still some people who will come to a Christmas concert if invited. We also know that the idea of just sitting, listening, then politely applauding and going home is not that appealing to many. So, this year, we decided to change things up just a bit. It goes all the way back to thinking through what we are and why we do what we do. For example, we are a church. We are a family of believers who care for one another because we are loved by God through Christ. Our relationships with one another matter, and God uses those relationships as one of the attractions to the gospel. We are also called to share the gospel with others. Therefore, we like to offer gospel opportunities (like the Ladies Tea and Big Buck Dinner), that facilitate those relationships. So, is there a way that we can execute an event that takes advantage of great Christmas music, but in a more interactive, engaging, dramatic, and even conversational way that is more participative than a more traditional concert? That is what we are attempting to accomplish this year.
The concert is more like a musical and drama event that is staged in three locations in our building. The first location will be in the gym, the second in the Gathering Space, and the third in the Worship Center. That means that people will not be seated in one place the entire time. We think that this will provide more opportunities for people to meet one another, talk with one another, and will be much better for younger kids.
The tickets for the Sunday program are taken and the Saturday ones are nearly gone. But, between you and me, if you still come, we will try to squeeze you in. Here is a great opportunity for you to come to serve and be a blessing. Look for people around you who you don't know and take the initiative to introduce yourself to them. Look for elderly people who may need some assistance and help them out. Look for people who are looking for friends and help them find them. Look for people who are looking for where to hang their coats or for where the bathrooms are, and help them as well. In other words, let's be the church. Let's care well for one another and love others. I love seeing how many of you do this every Sunday already! May the Lord use this time to bring people to know Him, trust Him, love Him, and follow Him.
Grace and Peace,
Sunday's text: Jeremiah 31