Christmas Worship Planning 2018 – Part 2 – Initial Christmas Eve Worship Planning

It’s time for some initial Christmas Eve worship planning. This is part 2 of the series, “Christmas Worship Planning 2018.” Feel free to start here. Or, go back to the beginning of the series.

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of planning for Christmas Eve worship services and how that planning should begin in January. A significant number of people who do not regularly participate in the worship life of a church, but do feel some connection to the traditions of the church, show up looking for something. So, it is essential that we do our best.

Whether you have been planning all year long, or are just getting started, there are five phases of getting ready for Christmas Eve: Plan, Invite, Prepare, Welcome, and Follow-up. Today, we will look at number one: initial planning.

Initial Planning

There are some aspects of Christmas Eve that you need to start planning right away. Churches that take this seriously have already begun. However, even if you haven’t thought about Christmas Eve yet, you can still get to work now.

Set Your Service Times.

During your initial Christmas Eve worship planning you will need to set your service timesChristmas Day is on a Tuesday this year so Christmas Eve is Monday evening. This makes planning a little easier since most churches will choose to have regular services on Sunday. Though, there may be some churches that decide to start Christmas Eve on Sunday. Some are finding this a great way to deal with larger than usual crowds and to catch those who will be leaving town.

How Many and When?

  • Do you need to add extra services to make room for additional people?
  • Will there be different types of services? Will one be family oriented, and one be traditional or contemporary? (See Below)

This is an essential first step. Until you know what services you will offer, it will be difficult to plan them.

Working Out Logistical Issues

Do you have adequate seating and parking for extra guests?There are many things to consider for Christmas Eve services. To start with, many churches are generally not open at night, especially in the winter when it is dark.

Now is an excellent time to think about your church at night. Are there things on timers that will need to be reset or bypassed? How is the interior lighting? How about the exterior lighting?

Preparing for Extra People

Do you have adequate seating and parking for extra guests? Are there any additional complications about having evening services? Do you have enough greeters, enough ushers? If you use hymnals, are there enough when all the seats are full? I know from experience that, during the year, hymnals tend to wander to other places in the church.

All the Christmas Extras

It is time to start inventorying supplies. Is there enough candle oil? Are there costumes for the kids’ presentation? Where are they and are they clean? If you are going to use candles, have you ordered them yet?

Start Planning the Services


There are many ways to approach Christmas Eve services. How will you do it? If you are planning more than one, will they be the same or different? Will you have any special music? Will you be taking a special offering? What liturgy will be using? Do you want any unique multi-media resources? Will you need to print different bulletins for different services?

Need some ideas? Here are some links that might help:

23 Creative Ideas For Your Christmas Eve Service – Vanderbloomen Search Group

Advent-Christmas-Epiphany 2018-19 Worship Planning Series – Discipleship Ministries 

Planning for Advent and Christmas Season, Year C Discipleship Ministries 

Advent/Christmas Liturgies, Year C – Discipleship Ministries

Candlelight Service for Christmas Eve: Scripture, Carols, and Communion – Discipleship Ministries

Plan for after Christmas.

If your church is suddenly filled with people who don’t usually attend church, don’t you want to invite them back? I don’t think it is overwhelmingly appealing to say, “Come back next week when things will get back to normal.” Think about planning a sermon series that might be interesting to guests. Or, if you are a lectionary preacher, preview what you will be preaching about over the next few weeks. Think of some way to make it appealing for new folks to come back.

Last year, Discipleship Ministries put together an after Christmas sermon series package, “Hello God? We’ve Got Questions!” I haven’t seen anything for this year yet, but I will keep an eye out.

In my next post, I will discuss the next phase: invite. While you still have some time to do the actual inviting, time is running out to get invitation resources ordered.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about preparing for Christmas Eve, feel free to ask in the comments. If I don’t know the answer, I know lots of pastors and church communicators who would love to help!

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