Influence

 the shape of leadership

Making the Most of Christmas

Surviving — and thriving — this ministry season

Kent Ingle on December 9, 2019

While it may be the most wonderful time of the year, for those in church ministry, Christmas is certainly one of the busiest. For anyone on a church staff, Christmastime can feel like a nonstop parade of services, parties and events.

Of course, this is a season we eagerly await in our churches. We want to minister to our congregation, give to those in need, and prepare for all the appropriate Christmas celebrations. But can packing in so much be taking away from what this time should mean for us, our families, our staff members, and even our congregations?

Most of us pack more into the month of December than we do throughout our entire year. While it is one of the most anticipated seasons, it can certainly be one of the most draining. In church ministry our calendars and responsibilities can be overwhelming, never mind thinking about what our family and friends want for Christmas. Come New Year’s Eve, most of us are ready for another vacation (if we’re not hosting an event that night as well).

There is a reason “surviving the holidays” is such a common phrase. So, before Christmastime flies right past us this year, maybe we should consider a few key ways to not only survive, but to thrive in our ministry this Christmas. After all, it only comes once a year.

Here are five ways for ministers and church staff members to thrive this Christmas season:

1. Focus on quality over quantity. Churches can feel the need to fill up every week with fun events, performances and parties on top of the traditional Christmas services. Rather than compete with the other commitments everyone will have this season, encourage your staff to focus on creating events that offer quality over quantity. Create moments that will add to the holidays for your church, rather than take away from them.

Ultimately, this is a season to recall the beauty of the birth of Jesus Christ.

2. Home in on the moments you can give. Rather than focus on the many different events and parties you can create for your congregation and staff, use this time to encourage your people to give back to the community. While it is healthy for churches to plan opportunities to get involved in volunteering in various ways throughout the year, Christmas is the perfect time to encourage people to give rather than to receive. When congregations prioritize a spirit of giving over the holidays, it can truly help all involved to grasp the purpose of this season.

3. Make family time a priority. During the holidays, creating moments for your family should take precedence over creating moments for your church. In fact, your family should take priority all year. But being intentional to make time for these moments can be difficult when competing with a church schedule. Never allow the church schedule to run your family life.

4. Allow your staff time to enjoy the holidays. Regardless of whether your staff members have family in town, be sure you’re guarding their time. Be considerate of their holidays as well. If they see you creating moments with family and friends outside of the church schedule, they will feel more at ease in following your lead.

5. Rest and remember. In his book Subversive Sabbath, A.J. Swoboda writes, “The great irony of Sabbath-keeping is how hard it is for us to say no to people but how with such ease we say no to being at rest with God.” This line can sting for church ministers who are riveted on pleasing the many different groups of people within the church. But remember that ultimately, this is a season to recall the beauty of the birth of Jesus Christ.

We live in a world that is moving nonstop, and Christmastime doesn’t make it slow down at all. It is the nature of our society to live a life that is constantly distracted, while it is the nature of our faith to pursue meaningful moments of stillness and reflection.

Rather than allowing the holiday calendar to run you over this year, create a ministry culture that allows you and your staff to soak up all this season is meant to be.

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