While often unintentional, Christmas is the most stressful time of the year for most of us. As a church, it is our duty to help our members and visitors alike to feel like the church is a calming presence during the holidays instead of another one of the stressful events they feel the need to attend. Yet it is often a time when we are creating, crafting, and stretching. The recent season is often one of heavy work, but also one we often simply like to forget. Now that it is winding up, don’t miss that this is a chance for counter-cultural leadership. This is a chance to reflect, critique, remember, and improve.
Here are five questions to spark your reflections.
- What hidden talents and creativity of your church showed up?
Was the choir fantastic? Did you discover a group of great bakers? Was there spoken word in a service? Did the artists and makers show up? Holidays often give opportunities for new events and environments. It’s possible that some of these people are waiting for another chance to service and display their talents in worship before next Christmas.
- How can you improve your pace?
At some point, you likely made the pace of the service a little slower and less scheduled, allowing people to take a break from the chaos of the holiday season to unwind and reconnect. When I was on staff at a church in Tennessee, we created a service called “Carols and Cocoa” that we had during Advent. It was during our normal Sunday morning service time so it wasn’t an extra service we asked members to attend. The church staff made hot cocoa and the hospitality team filled a table of homemade holiday desserts and bread. The service highlighted our choir, as they sang Christmas carols throughout the entire service. We replaced the normal sermon with a 5 minute Christmas devotional and increased the greeting time so that the members could enjoy some social time with each other while snacking on Christmas desserts and hot cocoa. This service became wildly attended! It was new, out of the box, and it was fun!Related to this question is how your schedule impacted your staff and key volunteers. Ask your staff and volunteers how they struggled or benefited with different events and services and start thinking now about how you can modify and implement ideas for next year.
- What experiments did you try?
Did you do something that has never been done before, just to see if it worked? Sometimes great ideas fail; sometimes bad ideas succeed; sometimes bad ideas that fail spark great ideas that succeed. Maybe next year only requires a few modifications for this year’s flop to fly next year—or in a couple of months.
- Where did you break the rules?
Sometimes it is okay to break the rules. Actually, it is kind of fun. Did you allow food in atypical places? Did you ditch the sermon, scrap the instruments, or take a break in the middle of the service to light candles? Sometimes rule breaking shows us rules that should have been broken a long time ago. Sometimes breaking rules leaves us with regret. Which rules were broken that should not be re-formed and which rules were broken that should be reinforced?
- When did you have a “moment”?
Perhaps in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, there was a moment; an epiphany when you got it. What went into it? How can it be recreated? When should it be recreated next? Was it recreatable or does it remind you to double down in prayer?
Many of these questions can spark uncomfortable moments and even difficult conversations. Leaders don’t shy from opportunities to learn. You’ve already gone through Christmas. You’ll go through it again. Take the chance to learn and make next year’s Advent season even better.