Yesterday, I recapped most of what I’d noticed in five church visits last Sunday. Because it was clearly a special day in Christendom (the Sunday before Christmas), I figured I would pay special attention to anything unique. Here’s the conclusion of those observations!
All signs point to college ministry. Actually, I only saw one sign, but it was still exciting. Even though they don’t appear to have a regular college ministry, First United Methodist does have a special Christmastime Sunday school class (see the foyer sign on the left and the bulletin announcement above). That’s a great idea for churches with lots of away students!
In the other churches, I saw some bulletin entries: in one, a college group meeting listed on a church calendar (hooray for continuing to meet during the break); in another, an outdated college ministry announcement (which was inaccurate during the Winter Break).
These were probably the things most pertinent to our field I saw all day. I wish college ministry was more prominent and simply more present in our churches, including at Christmastime. One day.
Tweaks for a Big Day. Only one of the five churches appeared to make any drastic adjustments to its program for Christmas Sunday.
In this case, that one church made three interesting Christmas Sunday tweaks. The first was to have a classic “invitation” toward the end of the service (for conversion, needing prayer, or rededication). While I know that’s not this church’s normal pattern, a special explicit invitation does fit on a day when non-Christians could be present and everybody is particularly mindful of spiritual things.
Second, the pastor had congregants pray together for a minute at the end of the service (in pairs). That was a pretty cool thing for connecting with each other, as well as for encouragement and supplication in the face of a week that can be strange, hard, hectic, and/or exhausting.
Third, that same church rather inexplicably decided to test a new worship service method. We watched a video replay of the sermon from earlier the same day, instead of the pastor preaching live – even though the pastor was present. Christmas Sunday seemed like a strange day to try that out, for all kinds of reasons… so I have to guess that there was some unexplained reason the church was testing this method this Sunday (illness of the pastor? an immediately upcoming need to use recorded sermons? Christmastime fatigue?). In any case, it was one more tweak on this Christmas Sunday.
So… that’s kinda it for my Christmas Sunday observations. I’m sorry I didn’t see more for students and young adults… maybe that’s coming during tomorrow’s Christmas Eve services?