Christmas is a special time of year when people smile more, sing more, eat more, and spend quality family time to reflect on what's important to them.
For us as a church, we are getting on our "A-Game" in preparation for an influx of people to join our worship services in-house and live stream. It's a great time to make an impression in the community and be a refuge for the people who are avoiding the shopping malls at all costs! For many, the Christmas season is important...and it should be. It's not every day that the secular world talks about the birth of our Savior so openly.
Christmas music just might be one of the biggest driving forces for the church this time of year.
Because many who are unchurched love Christmas music. They love to sing about the sleigh bells and be comforted by the chorus of Silent Night. It's during Christmas that you'll find many non-churchgoers enter through your doors simply to hear Christmas music. Some may argue that this is not a good reason for them to come...but getting non-believers to come to church is a great thing despite their initial intentions.
So if we can agree that Christmas music is a big deal...the question is this: When should we start singing it in our churches congregationally?
Your local radio station is a fantastic indicator of when it's an appropriate time to start your Christmas music at church. Once you start hearing it played in the mainstream, you know it's time to start planning or playing.
If the people in your church start making mention of it...that's a good indication that they want to hear it. With the exception of those "unique" individuals that listen to Christmas music in July, you'll start hearing your people make mention of it aloud. You could always ask a few of them too.
If you find yourself not planning out/playing Christmas music while all of the other worship leaders you know are...then you may be behind. Be in the loop with other worship leaders. Try joining a Facebook group such as the Worship Leaders Collective so you can see what others are doing.
When we say listen to your heart...please don't think of that one-hit-wonder by Roxette. We're talking about using your intuition and your gut feeling. You obviously are a capable person if you are successfully leading a congregation on a regular basis. You know your church's traditions and what your people and community likes. If you don't...just ask. Don't over-complicate this and make it into more than it is.
People everywhere are starving for hope and good news. You never know who might be quietly struggling with a heavy burden. Offering these people the message that their long-expected salvation is finally here in the form of Jesus in a manger could make an enormous difference.
Across the world, we're already seeing signs of Christmas.
If you're worried it's "too early" to start singing Christmas music, there's no end of excuses to start now. If you typically introduce Christmas music in the second week of December, try the first week. You could even introduce one song in your set the last week of November!
We'll say this much... if you decided to start incorporating Christmas music now, nobody would be upset!