12 Keys to a Guy-Grabbing Christmas Eve Service

12 Keys to a Guy-Grabbing Christmas Eve Service November 27, 2013


Christmas Star
By Rjcastillo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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:

  1. Keep the sermon brief. No more than 20 minutes. Tell a great story.
  2. Wrap up the service in one hour or less.
  3. Feature laymen up front – not grandmothers.
  4. Sing familiar Christmas carols that men know and love (in a key the baritones can sing).
  5. Talk about adventurous, dangerous missions. Tell the story of a martyr.
  6. Promote your upcoming events for men.
  7. Employ masculine imagery and language.
  8. Play a video clip from an action film as a metaphor.
  9. Plan a January sermon series that would interest men. Promote it on Christmas Eve.
  10. Keep things professional, rather than homespun.
  11. Present Christ the man rather than Christ the infant.
  12. 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.

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  • Jason Hunt

    I can resonate (no pun intended) with point #4.

    • A few years ago I attended a Christmas Eve service in which the song leader decided to “go Diva,” changing the tune of familiar carols so that no one but him could sing. The congregation lurched along, trying to follow his swooping vocals, but after a few verses everyone gave up and just watched him perform. I noticed a couple of months later he was unemployed.

  • great – just planning the christmas service, so helpful 😀 I was actually figuring to talk about Jesus’ father in the sermon as we rarely hear about him. Thoughts? Ideas?

    • Matt, I’ve actually heard several good sermons about Joseph, emphasizing his commitment to do what was right in the face of adverse circumstances. Marrying an pregnant girl in the 1st century was scandalous.

      • Thanks David. Looking forward to this one! Do you remember who it was that did one of those sermons? Would love to try and track them down!

  • BT

    Personally, I think it’s simpler and harder than this. Just being more “masculine” – whatever the heck that is – doesn’t cut it.

    Be warm, inviting. Say hello. Ask about how they’re doing – can the church help with anything. Make a lunch appointment for next Sunday.

    People are over committed and under connected. Address that, and you’re quite far down the road to a more balanced congregation. Just being more “masculine” is a popular band aid for a much deeper problem. The whole “Wild At Heart” stuff reaches a small segment of men, but isn’t the end-all be-all answer for a majority of men. It leaves me feeling like I’m back in high school. I’m beyond that now.

    • Your suggestion is a good one – but how do you motivate your members to do these things?

      • BT

        Good question. Will answer when I’m not driving!

        OK. Parked now. It’s different for every church but here are ideas we are tossing around:

        1) it starts with leadership. Staff, council, elders, deacons need to understand that the 5 minutes before and after (The Magic 5) are when you can connect. Be accessible. Ask questions, make invitations for lunch. DONT TALK TO FRIENDS NOW! There is time for that later.

        2) Do you have medium sized groups (smaller than the Sunday service, bigger than small groups) where people can rub shoulders, get acquainted, and crest ORGANIC small groups.

        3) are your small groups published? What about “activity groups” so people know who to talk to for shared interests.

        4) Regular opportunities for service. OK, this should be first on the list. Do you have a common mission that excites people. Not a “mission statement” but one thing you do to make your piece of the world better. A common service project. One church we know once monthly doesn’t have a worship service but instead goes out to DO service.

        5) Eat together. Sounds hokey, but potlucks work. Takes creative thought on how to do that in a big church but it can be and is done.

        6) leadership has to be accessible. Pastors can’t run out the door after the service (I’ve seen this quite literally happen), and can’t just hang around down in front.

        Just ideas. I’m desperate for others if you have ’em.

  • Eugene Scott

    I love Christmas Eve worship–of all kinds. But I’m biased as I am a pastor. Stuff like this drives me crazy because, though they often have a basis in reality, and sometimes contain good ideas, they are based on pure consumerism. Articles about how to get (place disenfranchised group name here) back to church tell us that if we just offer what people want, they will come back. But encountering God in worship is more complex and beautiful and frightening and challenging than 12 keys or 5 principals, etc. Jesus is not a product to be packaged for men, or anyone else.

    • Thanks Eugene. A worship service is a package. There are Baptist packages, Pentecostal packages, Catholic packages, etc. We create these packages to the glory of God. And somehow God manages to meet some of us within these packages.
      I’m just talking about how to create a package that tells men they are loved and wanted. Most church packages send the opposite message.

  • Drew Wagner

    This was Sweet! One thing Ive noticed that really does help engage the men at our Church is #3 … We do this by having a strong male presence in our music team especially in front singing and engaged in Worship…It seems like it helps the guys in the seats get out of there own heads a little and start engaging themselves… the way we arrange some of our music caters itself more toward styles of music men like listening to in our area as well…