‘Tis the season!
It’s that time of year again! The snow is falling, the jingles are playing, the decorations are up, and the smell of peppermint lattes fills the air. For many people, Christmas is a day of getting presents, making family plans, and eating great food. Thousands of people will be with their friends and families, attending church services and enjoying the fellowship. With so many things to do, and little time to do them, it’s no wonder that worship leaders can get stressed out and allow many little distractions to divert their attention from the most wonderful time of the year. By implementing these few important changes in your planning, we think you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the holidays.
Get in the Holiday Spirit
When thinking about all of the planning you have to do as a worship leader, it’s important to allow yourself time to soak in all of the excitement of the season. Remember when you were a child and the thought of Christmas morning couldn’t come fast enough? That same spirit is one that can embolden and excite the team around you. Do fun things with your team. Decorate the office. Have a Christmas Day countdown. Ask your co-workers about their holiday plans, rituals, and favorite pastimes. When you enjoy the spirit of the season together, it builds anticipation and makes everything more enjoyable.
It Takes a Village
You may already be behind the eight ball with this one, but there’s always time to plan ahead. If you need to wrangle up a few extra volunteers to help, don’t be afraid to ask. You’d be surprised to find out how many people are still able and willing to help with church planning! Gather a vision for what you’d like to achieve during the Christmas services. Imagine a theme, and start meeting with team members to get ideas on how to make it happen. Don’t put all the stress on yourself, and don’t try to do it all alone. Once you’ve got a general idea and direction, start assigning and delegating tasks to people who are ready to work. Set a schedule for things like setting up the stage, getting props and decorations, and choosing the set and special elements in the service. Anything you can do to plan ahead will take the stress away and won’t leave you and your team scrambling at the last minute.
Lights, Camera, Christmas!
It can be a lot of work, but changing things up during a Christmas service can be a game-changer. Why do the same thing during Christmas that you normally do every week of the year? With so many guests and a spotlight on the Christmas season, don’t be afraid to shake things up with volunteers who play trumpet solos, children’s choirs, dramas, and more! I’ve seen angels atop tall risers from the choir loft, traveling wise men among the audience, and real animals in the nativity scene on stage! Maybe you don’t have to go that far, but the idea is to really get creative and bring out all the stops. Just make sure that there is still a Christ-centered focus in what you do. Adding more elements to the service allows more people to get involved so they know they have an important role. When you encourage your team and flex your creative muscles, it can lead to a great Christmas service.
A Christmas Carol
When choosing your setlist, it’s often difficult to do songs in a way that is modern and fresh. An easy way to accomplish this is to try to write your own modern take on older Christmas tunes. Have writing sessions together with your team and really let the creativity flow. Another idea is to listen to what others have done well and put their arrangements in your set, whether it be other worship leaders or artists. For example, Chris Tomlin’s “It’s Christmas (Medley)” is a fresh combination of multiple classics. You can download the Premium Tracks for it on LoopCommunity.com. You can also mix in some throwbacks and sing the classics in style with the congregation. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s planned ahead and well-communicated so everyone knows your expectations.
The Naughty-Nice List
Let’s face it. People leave town during the holiday season and are sometimes unavailable. It can be really frustrating when the volunteers you’re counting on tell you that they won’t be around for the holidays. Now is the time to make a list of which volunteers will be present and able to help, and which ones won’t. Don’t get mad or frustrated if your team isn’t what you expected. Instead, view this as a time to really train and utilize the volunteers who may still be working on their instrument or parts. Giving them ownership of something will really help call them up. You never know what’s happening in their lives or if they’ve been working really hard to show you how ready they are!
Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night
This is totally optional, but one thing I always remember to do in my own way is letting the final element of the service be congregationally involved. Whether it’s singing classic carols together acapella, having testimonies of what God’s done this past year, reading the Christmas story, or doing a candlelight service, the important thing is to close with a sense of community. This “togetherness” really helps tie the night together and sends blessings off with the families as they get ready to head into another year.
So when you’re stressed and think your Christmas service is going to be a flop, just remember to slow down, enjoy what’s happening around you, work together, plan ahead, set real expectations, be creative, and most importantly, thank God for His greatest gift of all – Jesus Christ.
Janson Roberts is a singer/songwriter and producer from Atlanta, GA. He has been involved in music and ministry for over twenty years and loves to help teach musicians how to better understand technology and creativity in music.