We are in the holiday season, and it's interesting for pastors. Particularly this year which has proven different for the entire world. However, the holidays are always a time of blessing, and a time of great challenge. One of the things that I have come to realize this year is that: this too, shall pass. Things will kind of get back to normal, as normal as they ever get.
For years I struggled with the scattered mindset that comes with the holidays. For the most part, it is now in perspective. The bottom line: people have a lot going on. My fretting and cajoling made little difference in anything except my blood pressure.
Some have asked, “Ok, how then do you approach preaching and teaching when people are so scattered, if not physically then mentally?” Something that works is to take advantage of the benefits of the Christmas season. No matter the circumstances, God is good, and he is with us.
How can You Take Advantage of the Holidays?
One year, do a series on the Characters of Christmas. The wise men, shepherds, Herod, Caesar Augustus, etc. Study these people. You can really expand and give the congregation practical instruction. There are messages on praise, commitment to God’s will, and evangelistic thoughts. Some examples:
- Joseph, Doing the Unthinkable
- Herod, Protecting the Personal While Ignoring the Spiritual
Take a run at preaching about, The Places of Christmas.
The Places of Christmas
Bethlehem Judah is the first Place of Christmas that comes to mind. Bethlehem was not a very auspicious village, yet, something wonderful happened in that insignificant place. Bethlehem was insignificant but became the setting for something called wonderful. People whose life are little more than a muddy mess can also become the setting for something called wonderful. Preach – Bethlehem, The Setting for a Thing Called Wonderful
Consider Nazareth. The question would be asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth in Galilee had no reputation as a place for religious things. It was a lakeside community where fishermen lived. Nazareth was not large place, nor was it on a trade route. Historians say Nazareth was a place of much gambling, and immorality. However, it is here where the couple was from and where they would eventually return. A preaching journey might go like this:
- Describe Nazareth – emphasizing it as the place where Joseph and Mary lived. Surrounded by the insignificant and sordid.
- While the couple resided in Nazareth the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. The promise of the Messiah was brought to life within her.
- For the promise to be brought to completion the couple would need to leave Nazareth’s gambling and immorality.
- Bethlehem-Judah, the house of bread and praise, was where they would need to go for the fulfillment of what had been promised. To receive what God has for your life – you must leave one thing and pursue another.
- In the house of bread and praise, the promise would be fulfilled. Not in their comfort zone of Nazareth. Not even in comfortable guest quarters. So it is with all God’s promises – including the infilling of the Holy Ghost. The promise does not come where you are, you must go to the promise.
- Evangelistic appeal
- Or, if you prefer and God leads, it can go this way: (in time what had been born in the house of bread and praise would reside in Nazareth. The town was still sordid and insignificant. Gambling and immorality would be common. But the promise born in the house of bread and praise would exist in Nazareth to influence Nazareth. It was in the synagogue of Nazareth that Jesus read from Isaiah and declared himself to fulfill those promises. We do not receive God’s fulfilled promises in our lives to remain in our Bethlehem-Judah. We are intended to influence the Nazareth around us.
Egypt is another “place of Christmas.” Egypt was distant and provided safety for the Christ child. At times, God will take us to a far place, that we don't always understand, but it becomes a place of safety. I hope you understand what I'm trying to portray here. You can use the Christmas season. Take advantage of it.
Take Advantage of Christmas for your Weekly Sermons
You can preach evangelistic, and you could talk about Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a very religious place, but the reality was this: the people of Jerusalem ignored a star. People from the Far East came, and they had questions. Nevertheless, the people who were knowledgeable, and even had answers about this star, and where this king of the Jews was going to be born, those same people did not have enough interest to go and see for themselves. It was those from a distant land who followed the star.
Flow with Christmas. Try to relax. Particularly in 2020. Most festive events are cancelled. Enjoy your family. Take time to listen to the Christmas stories of an elder or two. Get on your knees and talk with some children about what Christmas means to them. Sure, they may talk about gifts and fat guys dressed in red outfits, reindeer with red noses and Scrooge. Laugh at them and with them.
It is only a few days until the first Sunday in January. Things will start getting “Covid-normal.” With the help of the Lord Jesus, we all hope that early in the coming year this virus gets sorted. God bless you and have a blessed Christmas!
This blog was drawn from a Ministry Monday from a time back. To watch the original video, visit our YouTube channel and find it here.
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A final note that may interest some who are looking for a fitting Christmas gift for those who are “Preachers in Development.” Lead Pastor Kevin Allen (Pentecostals of Murfreesboro, TN) wrote me a few days back, “I want to say thanks for writing “The Science of Shepherding”. I was on a hunting trip to South Dakota this past week. I grabbed this book off my shelf and took it with me to read. Excellent material my friend! In fact, I would like to order 10 copies for my daughter work pastors to give out as Christmas gifts.”
Pastor Allen’s recommendation means more than anything I can say. If you are interested in something similar, The Science of Shepherding – Pastoral Care for the 21st Century is available. Order quickly to get the books before Christmas. The book is also available in Spanish. For Kindle readers the book is also available at Amazon.
**How to further make your Pastoring effective
A great issue of ministry is how do to stay fresh with preaching and teaching. A great question is, how do we stay fresh in the pulpit? Well, the key, I believe, is that you have to keep the cupboard full. That means that you're perpetually working to increase the amount of resources that you have available. How do I keep the cupboard? For this Christmas, take advantage, look at the resources you have, or look for more. Anything relevant is good! Watch the full video on how to accomplish this here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more Pastoring tips, questions, and more.