Every Christmas Eve, something odd happens in thousands of American communities. Men go to church.
And the next week they disappear, not to be seen again until Easter. Or possibly on Mother’s Day, if enough pressure and guilt can be applied.
Most Sundays, males comprise just 39% the adult population in a typical congregation. But on Christmas Eve, the guys return – hesitantly, hands-in-pockets, making their annual nod to organized religion – often dragged by wives and mothers.
When it comes to reaching men, Christmas Eve services are the Super Bowl of the church calendar. Congregations have an opportunity to impact these men if they plan their services accordingly.
Here are 12 ideas:
- Keep the sermon brief. No more than 20 minutes. Tell a great story.
- Wrap up the service in one hour or less.
- Feature laymen up front – not grandmothers.
- Sing familiar Christmas carols that men know and love (in a key the baritones can sing).
- Talk about adventurous, dangerous missions. Tell the story of a martyr.
- Promote your upcoming events for men.
- Employ masculine imagery and language.
- Play a video clip from an action film as a metaphor.
- Plan a January sermon series that would interest men. Promote it on Christmas Eve.
- Keep things professional, rather than homespun.
- Present Christ the man rather than Christ the infant.
- Focus teaching on Christ’s power and mission, rather than his meekness and gentleness.
Big mistake: Many churches build their Christmas Eve services around adorable little children dressed as angels. Parents crowd the stage area, snapping pictures. This communicates a powerful message to men: Church is a children’s program. I’m not saying a modicum of Christmas cuteness will drive men out the door, but don’t overdo it.
Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men.” The holiday tides wash in large numbers of men who are strangers to God. Make sure your church services are relevant to these men if you want to see them again throughout the year.
I welcome your comments and questions below, or join the conversation on my Facebook page.