Years ago I served with a dear pastor who enjoyed the Christmas season, but was quite ready for it to be over after a couple of weeks. He thought that people are so distracted by the trappings of the holiday season that they are not spiritually focused and not moving forward in their Christian walk. In our worship planning we would agree to only use Christmas music on certain Sundays which usually ended up being the first 3 Sundays of December – not before or after. He believed that much of the Christmas music used in worship only led to sentimental reflections of Christmas seasons gone by with little real focus on Christ.
We must admit much of what happens at Christmas often has little to do with the real reason for the celebration – Jesus. How can a worship leader select music for worship during this season that helps to keep the proper perspective on Christmas? Here are some suggestions:
1. Avoid songs that over sentimentalize the season such as songs that focus on the â€œmost wonderful time of the year.â€ Are we in love with the season or with Christ?
2. Avoid songs that are strictly secular in their association. Some churches choose to do several of these type songs at the beginning of their musicals at Christmas to either â€œentertainâ€ or â€œattract non-believers.â€ I believe these type songs have no place in a worship service especially when it is intended to be evangelistic. What's evangelistic about singing secular songs? I think sometimes we can be so entertainment focused that we are in danger of entertaining them to hell. Point your people to Christ.
3. Choose songs that correctly describe the Christmas story according to Scripture. Many of our songs really do not portray the story very well. Look for songs that are clear in communicating the story.
4. Choose songs that tell the whole Gospel Story- Jesus birth, his ministry, his death on a cross and his resurrection. The problem with many Christmas songs is that they leave Jesus in the manger. Christians and non-Christians need to hear the whole Gospel at Christmas. Look for songs that go beyond the manger. He came to be our Savior.
5. Choose Christmas songs that your congregation can sing. Many songs of this season (old and new) are difficult to sing in a congregational setting. Consider the key of the song and the rhythmic structure.
Do all Christmas songs have to fit every criteria listed above? No, but a good group of your songs should. Let's help our people keep Christ in their Christmas season by using great songs that lead us to the Messiah – Our Savior and Lord.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, â€œAbba, Father!â€ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir to God.
Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV)