Let me confess a couple things as I get this post started.
- I’m a part of a group of 100+ worship leaders who have recently vented to one another about the common struggle with leading their congregations in worship during the Christmas season.
- After leading this past weekend, a worship leader who happened to be at my church stated, “great job with worship today, even with it being Christmas. I always dread leading during the Christmas season.”
- And being completely honest, during the 8am service this past Sunday, as I led I was fighting negative thoughts and walked off the platform frustrated by the congregational time of worship.
So, why is it that Christmas music, and the Christmas season, and our weekly gathering for congregational worship are seemingly so discouraging to the lot of our church’s worship leaders?
Let me attempt to answer that question, while trying to be helpful to the worshiper during the Christmas Season.
A lot of our traditional Christmas songs are not worship songs at all. A majority of them speak about baby Jesus coming, about the angels singing, about the city of Bethlehem, or even worse, about some kid who thought it was ok to bring a drum to a birth!? Rather than directly giving worth to God, they try to tell the story of Christ’s birth and coming to earth.
So, right off the bat, we go from singing ascriptive, adoring, intentional praise directed toward King Jesus, and start singing informational, somewhat obligatory, and honestly somewhat obscure carols about baby Jesus.
But, wading through the cheesy (and sometimes awful lyrics) are some beautifully written, doctrinal and theological truths that should inform your heart this Christmas. These carols are trying to paint the picture for you, of the most mind-blowing phenomenon in history. God coming to earth....as a baby....helpless and humble....to save your life.
So as you gather for worship this season, ask the Lord to renew the deep truths of His coming in your heart. It’s good news and you need it as much today, as the first time you received it!
I was watching a holiday special the other day of some talented artists. I watched as they joked and jested saying, “this season is all about getting that special someone what they love....staying out late and having a little too much egg nog...hahaha....no this season is all about friendship.”
Perhaps well intentioned, but clearly not going after what I believe the reason for the season is. But, they then went on to sing the same carols that I was singing in Church this past Sunday. In fact, I can find countless artists, from every genre of music, who have belief systems far and wide, covering Christmas carols about Christ the Lord the newborn King.
“See, it brings us all together!”
WRONG. It cheapens the phenomenon that God came to earth to seek and save the lost, bind up the broken hearted, and be the way, the truth, and the life for all who repent and believe.
So, don’t allow the overkill of holiday carols, and the collision of worldliness with godly truth distort your own worship this season. Remember, these songs still herald the most important news our world needs to hear, even if many singing the truths don’t believe it themselves. May we sing them like we believe them.
Finally, as I led the first service of the Christmas season at my church this past Sunday, going through my head was all of the things that compete for our attention, and frankly, our worship during the Christmas season.
I mean, I love Christmas, and traditions, and parties, and presents...they are all WORTH my time, but they aren’t WORTH my worship. You get what I’m saying?
I think more than any other season, Church can fall parallel with everything else. But the gathering of God’s bride should be paramount to everything going on at Christmas time! It is His birthday after all! Crazy how it becomes about us so easily.
I confessed this to my congregation this past Sunday, but I think worship leaders sort of tend to dislike leading through the season sometimes because it can feel like you lose the congregation a little bit. It can seem like there’s less passion, less expression, maybe some glossed over faces as you look out into the congregation to point them to Christ.
To the Worship Leader: Be careful not to measure God moving or authentic worship by what you see, notice, and feel from the platform. God looks at the heart and if you’re trying to judge it, he won’t look on your heart the way you desire Him too.
To the Worshiper: Make Church most important during the holiday season. Sing with passion and expectancy, and don’t be afraid to show it on your face. Worship is both remembering and anticipating. There’s no better time to do both than at Christmas. We remember that Christ came, and anticipate that He will come again.
‘Tis the season to worship like never before!