Embrace Tradition for Your Christmas Celebration

Embrace Tradition for Your Christmas Celebration

November 17, 2014 by

As we’re closing in on the Christmas season, here’s some quick advice for your Christmas celebration: Embrace tradition.

No matter how contemporary and cutting edge we may be, at Christmas people like tradition. There’s a reason we sing the same Christmas songs, bake the same cookies and trot out the same old box of Christmas decorations. There’s room for an innovation here or there, a new song, a new arrangement, a new cookie. But not much room. People like the classic. It’s why Coke rolls out the glass bottles and the Norman Rockwell Santa Claus.

So roll with it.

When it comes to Christmas, people like “That’s how we’ve always done it,” just fine.

So don’t “put baby Jesus on a zip line.” Stick with tradition.

“This Christmas find ways to embrace traditions in your church.”

Christmas Traditions to Embrace

As you’re thinking Christmas, think traditional. Don’t reinvent the wheel. (Didn’t we just say that last week? Yes, Advent is pretty traditional).

  • You can’t get more traditional than the Christmas story. What are the two greatest moments in A Charlie Brown Christmas? His sad little Christmas tree and Linus reading from the Gospel of Luke. There’s a reason they went simple and traditional. It’s powerful.
  • Go for classic Christmas songs. That’s what people want to hear and that’s what they want to sing. A new song is OK, but keep the ratio heavily slanted to the classics.
  • Nothing is more traditional than a candlelight service. Break out the candles, dim the lights and sing some “Silent Night.”

You can built your service around these traditions. You can also work these traditions into your communication. Use classic imagery in your social media posts, announcement slides or postcards.

Tweaking Tradition is OK

“Embracing tradition at Christmas is good news for small churches.”

Now don’t take this as advice that everything has to be boring. If you’re making tradition boring, you’re doing it wrong. Tradition is powerful, it taps something primal.

What are some of the top Christmas movies? It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. You can’t get more traditional.

But you can play with tradition a bit. Some of the other top Christmas movies focus on tradition but also play with it a bit. From Elf to Scrooged to Christmas Vacation. It works. Even A Christmas Story, which practically wallows in traditional, also pokes fun at it. The movie is a little over the top and romanticized. That was very intentional.

Nearly every TV show that does a Christmas special touches on tradition in some way. They draw on tradition (because it’s what people want) and then find a way to tweak it and make it work in the context of their show.

So it’s OK to play with tradition. You don’t have to play it straight. You can do “Silent Night” with candles and then break out glowsticks and take it up a notch. (Well, maybe in some churches you can do that. But don’t try it in mine.)

But however you do it, this Christmas find ways to embrace traditions in your church.

Good News for Small Churches

When it comes to Christmas, people like “That’s how we’ve always done it,” just fine. Embrace tradition.

More than anything, embracing tradition at Christmas is good news for small churches. If  you don’t have a huge budget, if you’ve got a small team and limited resources, embracing tradition is your friend. It means you don’t have to come up with some brilliant, brand new strategy that completely re-imagines Christmas. You don’t need something wild to get people’s attention. They’re eager to pay attention. They’re yearning for the traditions they remember. All you have to do is find ways to tap into those traditions.

God Rest Ye Stressed Communicators: Planning Christmas for Your ChurchMore Christmas Ideas:

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks


When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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2 Responses to “Embrace Tradition for Your Christmas Celebration”

  • Kristy Mosel
    September 27, 2016

    CURIOUS : What are people planning this year given church is on a Sunday?
    We are a small church plant & we started doing Christmas Eve Eve services over the last couple years – which has worked out well for us and we can bill it as spend the Eve & Day with the family, but there is a question as to how to handle the Sunday Christmas


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