Where is everybody?

by vernsanders on December 29, 2009

Smart travellers know that visiting Europe in August means a lot of businesses are closed, and the locals are on vacation. I’m not sure how it got to be a tradition, but I am sure that the influx of US businesses like McDonalds, and the rising tourist tide has changed things…

Smart visitors know that visiting San Francisco in August means don’t expect to wear your bermuda shorts…it can be the coldest time of year in the City…in fact Mark Twain is purported to have said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

Smart churchgoers know that there are two Sundays a year when it is likely that most of the “A” team of worship leaders is gone. Those Sundays, of course are the ones immediately following Christmas and Easter.

I’ve always found it odd that we church leaders spend a lot of time and effort to make the two biggest celebration Sundays “perfect” including adjusting the service content and, often, the aesthetic, to appeal to visitors. Yet we don’t really believe they’ll be back, apparently, because one week later the platform is either bare, or missing a large segment of the “senior staff” in leadership. It would be almost like taking that street in your town…you know…the one that has all the houses festooned with Christmas lights to the point that the locals take their visitors to see the show, and the local media feature it in stories every year…anyway, it would be like all the people on that street, on the day after Christmas, took down all the lights and went to the junkyard and filled their lawns with wrecked cars, and rotting garbage.

OK…bad analogy…perhaps it would be better to say that they replaced their massive lighting display with a single blinking bulb, or a lighted sign that says “nothing to see here now…come back next year…”

Now I know why all the staff is gone…they’re exhausted, in most cases, and often have not had a “break” from their worship duties since Labor Day. I don’t begrudge the staff their break.

But it does give one pause…if you “dress up”for a first date and then act like you don’t care on the second date it sends a clear message…something like “I thought you were important enough to impress, but this is the real me now…and, ironically, it isn’t the real you either…

What to do…what to do…

Well, at one of the churches I served, we stumbled into what turned out to be a brilliant strategy. It was partly logistics, and partly luck, but it became one of the smartest things we ever did: Let the children and youth lead worship on those two Sundays.

Among the advantages of this plan there are three worth considering:

  • Ordinarily, children and youth are not “featured” during Christmas eve services
  • The children’s and youth ministry leaders can plan and point for very specific Sundays and make them a big deal
  • Between the college students still home on break, and the parents, grandparents, and visiting family members of the children and youth who are leading worship, the attendance doesn’t fall off…in fact, in most cases for us, it held steady or increased compared to a “typical” Sunday

So now, imagine this scenario: You have an influx of visitors on Christmas eve or Easter, and you are able to invite them to return for another “big deal” service the following Sunday. In our case, the Sunday after Easter, for instance, was given over primarily to youth giving testimonies about the impact of a regular mission trip to build houses in Mexico. That Sunday turned from being a “low” Sunday to being one of the “must see” Sundays. And the “senior” staff did not have to assume planning and leadership responsibilities.

I’d like to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell me if you have a specific plan for the Sundays after Christmas and Easter, and how and why they work or don’t work.

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December 31, 2009 at 8:24 am

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Janice December 29, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I think it’s brilliant!

vernsanders December 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Thanks Janice…let me know if you use it, and whether or not it works for you…
when are you (or are you already) back from NZ?


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