There’s a little media frenzy today over the fact that several mega-churches are choosing to close their doors on Christmas day. You can take your pick of sources over at Google News, or the CT Weblog has a nice overview.
The arguments go back and forth, but it basically looks like this:
Pro: When Christmas falls on a Sunday very few people come, so rather than mobilize all our volunteers for a minimal turn out, we’re choosing to focus our efforts on other extra services, like a Christmas Eve service.
Con: What?! Canceling church?! Because of Christmas?! It’s proof that mega-churches are evil! Run for the hills…
OK, maybe I got a little carried away with my con, but you get the idea.
I’m not sold one way or the other. It’s true that lots of people visit churches at Christmas time, but with Christmas falling on a Sunday it throws that trend for a loop. Attendance may be up at Christmas, but it’s down when Christmas falls on a Sunday.
Frankly I think churches are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t (so to speak). Going ahead with normal Sunday services on Christmas morning will probably result in low attendance and increased holiday burnout for your volunteers. But canceling Sunday services on Christmas morning is resulting in bad publicity and lots of bickering (feel free to duke it out in the comments).
What I think is interesting is that this is another example of church marketing. Pastor and author Rob Bell likes to say that ‘church marketing’ makes him sick, but his church, Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., is among many that will be closed on Christmas day. That decision has marketing and communication implications. As much as it may make him sick, ignoring those implications isn’t a good idea.
Whether your church goes ahead with Christmas Sunday services or cancels them, either move has marketing implications. 180+ articles on Google News bear that out