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Why do churches close on Sunday? (MegaChruches reduce Holy Day to holiday)
HERALD-LEADER ^ | Dec. 04, 2005 | Frank E. Lockwood

Posted on 12/06/2005 11:07:40 AM PST by Between the Lines

Central Kentucky's largest church will break with tradition and close its doors on Christmas Sunday so that staff and volunteers can spend more time with their families.

Southland Christian Church near Lexington, where more than 7,000 people worship each week, is one of several evangelical megachurches across the country that are opting to cancel services on one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar.

Supporters say the change is family-friendly. Opponents call it a regrettable bow to secular culture.

The list of closed congregations on Christmas Sunday reads like a who's who of evangelical Protestantism: Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago area's largest congregation; Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich.; North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga.; and Fellowship Church near Dallas.

The churches, which rank among the largest congregations in America, will hold multiple Christmas Eve services instead.

Megachurch officials around the country consulted with each other before deciding to take the day off.

The decision makes sense in today's hectic world, said Willow Creek spokeswoman Cally Parkinson. "It's more than being family-friendly. It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy," she said.

Many evangelical churches don't hold Christmas day services, except when the holiday falls on a Sunday.

For some evangelicals, it's the day of the week -- not the day of the year -- that's sacred. To them, closing the doors of the church on the Lord's Day is unthinkable.

Others, troubled by the holiday's increasingly secular tone, lament the change.

While admiring the emphasis on family, Fuller Theological Seminary professor Robert K. Johnston worries that another Christian tradition is fading. Fuller, in Pasadena, Calif., is one of the nation's premier evangelical schools.

"What's going on here is a redefinition of Christmas as a time of family celebration rather than as a time of the community faithful celebrating the birth of the savior," said Johnston, a professor of theology and culture. "There is a risk that we will lose one more of our Christian rituals, one that's at the heart of our faith."

At Southland, the decision hasn't generated much controversy. "We've probably had maybe half a dozen (complaints), which is understandable," said church spokeswoman Cindy Willison. Southland members are encouraged to attend one of three Christmas Eve services instead. A Dec. 23 service has also been added.

Willison says attendance dropped significantly the last time Christmas fell on a Sunday, in 1994. Her church's decision was made "based on analysis of the number of people who attended in previous years and just a desire for us to emphasize family time on Christmas Day," she said.

"It's not anything unique to us," she said.

At least one other major Lexington congregation, Crossroads Christian Church, will close for Christmas.

Crossroads Pastor Glenn Schneiders says Dec. 25 is no longer considered sacred by many Americans -- especially those who are not regular churchgoers. "It's viewed more as a holiday than a holy day," he said.

The unchurched are more reachable on Dec. 24, said Schneiders, who leads a church with average weekend attendance of 1,900 people.

"Studies would say the best opportunity to invite people is Christmas Eve. It's, for whatever reason, the least threatening service of the year to attend ... so what we do is really point all of our energy in that direction," Schneiders said. "We don't think we're compromising. We're actually reaching more people by doing that."

Lexington Theological Seminary professor Bill Turner says it's difficult for some congregations to hold multiple Christmas Eve services and then return the following day.

"You're talking about a lot of volunteers and a lot of logistics to make Sunday happen in a lot of those megachurches," he said. By the end of Saturday's services, "you're pretty well wrung out."

Some churches are scaling down their Sunday schedule on Christmas.

At Louisville's Southeast Christian Church, where 18,000 people worship each weekend, they'll have one service on Christmas in the fellowship hall. Fewer than 1,000 people are expected to attend.

Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, where 1,650 people typically worship, will also have one service on Christmas.

"We want to be here to worship Christ on his birthday," pastor Bill Henard said.

At a time when some corporations and government agencies are shying away from even using the word "Christmas," Henard said, "We want the world to know that it's okay to celebrate Christ."

Meanwhile, Roman Catholics will be as busy as ever, Lexington diocesan spokesman Tom Shaughnessy said. "It's a holy day of obligation, which means for the faithful, Mass attendance is required."

At First United Methodist Church in Lexington, the pastor will perform a "blessing of the toys," and the congregation will sing Christmas carols, church spokeswoman Marsha Berry said.

"Even if there's a small group ... we'll be there to worship," she said. "What better day than Christmas to experience God?"


TOPICS: Current Events; General Discusssion; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: christmas; christmasday; evangelicals; holyday; megachurch; megachurches; sunday; thelordsday; waronchristmas; waronthelordsday
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I guess when you run a church like a business, you will have to take off for holidays.
1 posted on 12/06/2005 11:07:42 AM PST by Between the Lines
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To: Between the Lines

?


2 posted on 12/06/2005 11:09:44 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Between the Lines

I wonder if anyone has checked to see if they are having a Christmas Eve service.


3 posted on 12/06/2005 11:10:17 AM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Between the Lines
Others, troubled by the holiday's increasingly secular tone, lament the change.

It might just be the "mega-churches". My wife belongs to a church that started out small but grew very large--about 5K congregation. I've noticed a trend towards secularism in this church. Last Christmas the pastor gave a sermon (after a Las Vegas-style pre-sermon warm-up show) dressed like he was leaving for the Bahamas right afterward.

4 posted on 12/06/2005 11:14:11 AM PST by randog (What the....?!)
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To: Between the Lines; Cletus.D.Yokel
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Not only is it the Lord's Day, it's also the Festival of the Nativity of Our Lord, one of the three chief festivals of the whole church year! So instead of whimpering away in defeat, retreat, and apathy, we ought to be doing CHURCH ON STEROIDS!

But these historically amnesiac and theologically anemic "evangelical" churches wouldn't know the gospel if it came up and smacked them in the face--or, better yet, put the Lord's Word in their ears and his Body and Blood in their mouth.

5 posted on 12/06/2005 11:17:39 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (Evangelical--in the historic meaning of the term--Lutheran pastor)
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To: Between the Lines

Just shaking my head. People might disagree about how to celebrate Christmas, but Sunday is Sunday...


6 posted on 12/06/2005 11:17:47 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: tutstar; 2Jedismom; Sybeck1; pamlet; aumrl; mariabush; nmh; Ingtar; Blogger; ...

What say ye Baptist ping!!


7 posted on 12/06/2005 11:28:19 AM PST by WKB (If you can't dazzle them with brilliance.. then Baffle them with BS)
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To: SandRat
I wonder if anyone has checked to see if they are having a Christmas Eve service.



Our "small" Church is planning to have a
Christmas Service Wednesday night the 21st.
and no service on the 25th.
8 posted on 12/06/2005 11:32:56 AM PST by WKB (If you can't dazzle them with brilliance.. then Baffle them with BS)
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To: SandRat
I wonder if anyone has checked to see if they are having a Christmas Eve service.Yes, they are.
9 posted on 12/06/2005 11:39:00 AM PST by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: wideawake
?

??

10 posted on 12/06/2005 11:39:32 AM PST by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: Charles Henrickson
So instead of whimpering away in defeat, retreat, and apathy, we ought to be doing CHURCH ON STEROIDS!

Amen.

11 posted on 12/06/2005 11:41:12 AM PST by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: Between the Lines
Y'shua was not born on December 25.

He was born on the feast of Tabernacles in early October

when He came to Tabernacle among us.

However He was conceived on the feast of Lights.

It was during that feast that He entered as the LIGHT of the world.

b'shem Y'shua

12 posted on 12/06/2005 11:42:10 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Y'shua <==> YHvH is my Salvation (Psalm 118-14))
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To: Between the Lines
??

My question mark was meant to express my complete and utter perplexity at this.

If going to church on Sunday interferes with your "family time", your family isn't much of a family.

13 posted on 12/06/2005 11:42:15 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Knitting A Conundrum
People might disagree about how to celebrate Christmas, but Sunday is Sunday...

But we can't let Sunday get in the way of a holiday. After all it's for the children. /s

14 posted on 12/06/2005 11:42:41 AM PST by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: Charles Henrickson
This is just my opinion, but....

It does seem like a lot of churches these days have been so focused of filling pews that they have forgot that the goal is to fill heaven. Seems like they decided that if you cannot bring the world to church, then why not bring the church to the world. While filling the pews is a great idea, we cannot omit the word to do it so that it is easier to get people to come and not feel guilty about what they do the other six days of the week.Christ said, "pick up your cross and follow me", he never said, "call you buddies, we're having a party."

15 posted on 12/06/2005 11:43:16 AM PST by txroadkill
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To: Between the Lines
"It's more than being family-friendly. It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy," she said.

Either you make time for the Lord or you don't. If you don't, then your faith just isn't that important to you, and becomes just another thing on the todo list.

16 posted on 12/06/2005 11:43:53 AM PST by Clock King ("How will it end?" - Emperor; "In Fire." - Kosh)
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To: Between the Lines

Amazing. There are several people who are members of my church precisely because we happened to have a Christmas Day service, and they sorta just wandered in.


17 posted on 12/06/2005 11:43:59 AM PST by r9etb
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To: Between the Lines

Our church will have a full morning service, with Sunday School, but we will not have an evening service. We are having a Christmas Eve service as well.

I sit on our church's board. We discussed being open on Christmas. We only have 40 adults, so if more than one decides that they are staying home, the pews seem empty. My personal desire was to have all services, but I understand the actions of others to have an evening to be with family. So we settled for what we got. THere was not even a discussion of cancelling SUnday service altogether.


18 posted on 12/06/2005 11:45:14 AM PST by Sensei Ern (Now, IB4Z! http://trss.blogspot.com/ "Cowards cut and run. Heroes never do!")
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To: XeniaSt

These are your theories, but you assert them as facts.


19 posted on 12/06/2005 11:45:25 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Between the Lines

Then they need to start paying taxes.


20 posted on 12/06/2005 11:47:09 AM PST by proudofthesouth (Boycotting movies since 1988)
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To: Between the Lines
The decision makes sense in today's hectic world, said Willow Creek spokeswoman Cally Parkinson. "It's more than being family-friendly. It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy," she said.

I'm sure God understands fully the busy lifestyles we lead. I'm sure God says: "Yeah, if you can fit me in, that's great, but if not, no biggie." When churches cater to the desires of men to the exclusion of God then what are they there for in the first place?

I'm proud to say that our church will be open for worship on Christmas morning. The best part of all is that neither of our teenagers have any problem with this at all. By God's grace they want to go. They couldn't care less that some presents will have to wait. God is truly good.

21 posted on 12/06/2005 11:47:25 AM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Sensei Ern

Still, I am a little disturbed by the fact that come hell or high-water, we have SUnday am and SUnday PM services, but on the day that honors Christ, we skip a service.


22 posted on 12/06/2005 11:47:44 AM PST by Sensei Ern (Now, IB4Z! http://trss.blogspot.com/ "Cowards cut and run. Heroes never do!")
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To: XeniaSt

I am afraid to tell you this but its true:

We don't really care what your religious community thinks about Christmas.


23 posted on 12/06/2005 11:49:50 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: XeniaSt

And what else is new? Most of us who actually study the bible and Christian history already know that Christ was not born on Dec. 25. And yes, we know that the old pope made it that date to purposely interfere with the Winter Solstice, because people generally practice a mixture of religions, and the Catholics couldn't stand thatn. So what? This has become the day we celebrate Christ's birth.


24 posted on 12/06/2005 11:49:57 AM PST by Clock King ("How will it end?" - Emperor; "In Fire." - Kosh)
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To: txroadkill

churchLite everywhere.

It's a shame.


25 posted on 12/06/2005 11:50:36 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Clock King

That's called a commemoration. A day set aside to remember. And that is what we like to do!


26 posted on 12/06/2005 11:51:16 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: r9etb

Praise God! A good testimony that I wonder if any of these churches have considered. It seems to me a mega-church would have all the more people just wondering in on Christmas.


27 posted on 12/06/2005 11:51:27 AM PST by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: Charles Henrickson

It's a given fact that steroids can cause impotence.


28 posted on 12/06/2005 11:51:31 AM PST by Sensei Ern (Now, IB4Z! http://trss.blogspot.com/ "Cowards cut and run. Heroes never do!")
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To: HarleyD; Alex Murphy; Dr. Eckleburg; RnMomof7; Frumanchu; ksen; rwfromkansas

But say one negative word about megachurches around here....


29 posted on 12/06/2005 11:54:45 AM PST by Gamecock ("God does not look for men fit to be elected; he makes them so." Saint Augustine)
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To: wideawake
These are your theories, but you assert them as facts.

If you read the Word of G-d and
believe it as the Holy Word of G-d

you can find these facts.

It very clear that December 25 is a Pagan feast
not one spoken to us by G-d the creator of the universe.

b'shem Y'shua

30 posted on 12/06/2005 11:55:14 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Y'shua <==> YHvH is my Salvation (Psalm 118-14))
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To: Between the Lines
"At least one other major Lexington congregation, Crossroads Christian Church, will close for Christmas. Crossroads Pastor Glenn Schneiders says Dec. 25 is no longer considered sacred by many Americans...

One has to wonder who's leading the church? When the pastor acquiesce what message does that send to the congregation.

31 posted on 12/06/2005 11:56:29 AM PST by HarleyD ("Command what you will and give what you command." - Augustine's Prayer)
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To: WKB

We are having church.


32 posted on 12/06/2005 11:58:41 AM PST by CajunConservative (Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Jindal.)
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To: XeniaSt
you can find these facts

The fact is, the Scripture does not give enough information to establish a precise date of birth. Your opinion is a surmise.

I'm not saying your theory is false, just pointing out that it cannot be proven from Scripture.

This is a myth.

No pagan feast is fixed on December 25th, and the Church chose this day to set aside as a celebration of Christ, so it is not a pagan feast by definition.

You seem to confuse facts with assumptions.

33 posted on 12/06/2005 11:59:27 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Knitting A Conundrum
I am afraid to tell you this but its true: We don't really care what your religious community thinks about Christmas.

Have a merry merry Christmas!

And I just love your Christian witness....

b'shem Y'shua

34 posted on 12/06/2005 12:01:32 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Y'shua <==> YHvH is my Salvation (Psalm 118-14))
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To: XeniaSt

I am aggressive on that.

When they come to lock up the Christians, they will know where to find me! No doubts!


35 posted on 12/06/2005 12:03:46 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Sensei Ern
Our church is combining our three morning services into one large service that will be an hour longer than usual. We will not have a sermon but instead the full service is devoted to praise, worship, testimonials and reading Scripture.

It is very crowded and the men have to stand, but everyone will be there. We do this every Christmas no matter what day it falls on.

36 posted on 12/06/2005 12:04:51 PM PST by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: Gamecock
Hey, it's not like you can't buy Starbucks coffee and brew it in the comfort of your own home...

Who knows, gc...maybe these churches are reverting back to the earlier Reformed standard of not celebrating Christmas ;)

Semper Reformanda, bro!

37 posted on 12/06/2005 12:08:15 PM PST by Frumanchu (Inveterate Pelagian by birth, Calvinist by grace.)
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To: wideawake
If going to church on Sunday interferes with your "family time", your family isn't much of a family.

I agree. Going to church together is one of the most important family activities of the week. More important than dinner together each night.

38 posted on 12/06/2005 12:09:34 PM PST by TravisBickle (The War on Terror: Win It There or Fight It Here)
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To: XeniaSt

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. -- Romans 14:5


39 posted on 12/06/2005 12:10:54 PM PST by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum
I am aggressive on that.

When they come to lock up the Christians, they will know where to find me! No doubts!

You know that the Muslims are coming for the saturday people
before they come for the sunday people.

b'shem Y'shua

40 posted on 12/06/2005 12:11:31 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Y'shua <==> YHvH is my Salvation (Psalm 118-14))
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To: txroadkill; Charles Henrickson
Obviously so obsessed with certain great numbers that they have forgotten "where two or three are gathered together in my name..."

Poet laureate Sir John Betjamin says it best:

And is it true--this most tremendous tale of all
Seen is a stain glass window’s hue
A baby, in a cattle stall, the maker of the stars and sea
Become a child on earth, for me?

And is it true? For if it is,
No love that in a family dwells, no caroling in frosty air
Can with this single truth compare:
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

41 posted on 12/06/2005 12:14:00 PM PST by lightman (The Office of the Keys should be exercised as some ministry needs to be exorcised.)
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To: lightman

Neat verse!


42 posted on 12/06/2005 12:15:33 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: lightman

John Betjeman's "Christmas" (which you excerpted) is one of my favorite poems. Thank you.


43 posted on 12/06/2005 12:17:37 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Evangelical--in the historic meaning of the term--Lutheran pastor)
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To: Frumanchu
maybe these churches are reverting back to the earlier Reformed standard of not celebrating Christmas ;)

Wasn't there a thread about this very subject last year? ;-)

44 posted on 12/06/2005 12:18:25 PM PST by Gamecock ("God does not look for men fit to be elected; he makes them so." Saint Augustine)
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To: wideawake
If going to church on Sunday interferes with your "family time", your family isn't much of a family.

I disagree.

We have family coming in for Christmas to my mother in law's house. There are eight families attending, some coming in from out of town.

All families attend Christian churches, different ones. Some of our churches are having a Christmas service, and some are not. Some family members are showing up in the morning/early afternoons so that they can leave early and go to their in-laws on Christmas evening.

This is the one day in a year that we can all get together.

So we will not be attending church that day so that we can spend a few hours with our family while we have a chance.

"Church" is not simply the building you meet in.

45 posted on 12/06/2005 12:20:23 PM PST by Mr. Brightside
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To: WKB

Granted His birth wasn't in December but at a minimum this is a symbolic celebration so church should be held on Christmas Eve WITHOUT stupid skits acted out by kids such as the mouse and Christmas ... even kids can understand what Christmas is without acting out some ridiculous story.


46 posted on 12/06/2005 12:22:02 PM PST by nmh ( Intelligent people believe in Intelligent Design (God))
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To: Mr. Brightside
"Church" is not simply the building you meet in.

No, "church" is participation in public worship of the risen Lord, which takes precedence over everything else on the Lord's Day.

You know your Scripture well enough to know that Christ told us to put Him before even our family.

47 posted on 12/06/2005 12:24:10 PM PST by wideawake
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To: nmh

You would think the Christmas story itself would be story enough. It's a pretty amazing event....


48 posted on 12/06/2005 12:25:40 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: wideawake
This is a myth.

No pagan feast is fixed on December 25th, and the Church chose this day to set aside as a celebration of Christ, so it is not a pagan feast by definition.

You seem to confuse facts with assumptions.

For your review:

Messiahmas? On the Birth Date of Jesus of Nazareth

b'shem Y'shua

49 posted on 12/06/2005 12:26:16 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Y'shua <==> YHvH is my Salvation (Psalm 118-14))
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

You would think that ... but STUPID adults want it to be "fun".


50 posted on 12/06/2005 12:31:32 PM PST by nmh ( Intelligent people believe in Intelligent Design (God))
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