Many of you are in the final stretch of preparations for a significant presentation during the Christmas season. Over the next few weeks, you, your family, and the people you lead will experience many rehearsals, meetings, and workdays to complete the process of building a unique Christmas experience for your church and community.
Throughout the years I served as a leader of a worship ministry, I led Singing Christmas Trees, full blown pageants on the life of Christ, large scale concerts with choirs and orchestras, and full length musical dramas with sets, costumes, lights, and even live animals – and I don’t mean the bass section. Some of my most favorite experiences have been in these productions.
But, I also have to admit there were some aspects of these efforts that started to trouble me. I’d like to think after a few years of making everything “bigger and better” year after year, I learned a few things that made these events more meaningful.
For many churches, these events represent significant investment of their best resources – people, time, and money. Here are three tips to make sure your production doesn’t ruin your Christmas.
- Remember the process is just as important as the presentation.
When we get in that “Director” mode, we can easily start to ignore what we are doing to our volunteers in the spirit of doing “whatever it takes” to make sure everything is ready. Here’s a clue: if your rehearsal schedule is fragmenting your families and keeping people up at the church until all hours of the night every night for two weeks, then you’re starting to miss something. Don’t abuse your people to put on a program. As the event approaches, find ways to release the stress, not pour it on. Spend the extra time to prepare a program that doesn’t exhaust everyone (including you) even as you prepare to present it. Remember to prepare your people spiritually as well. And that includes rest.
- Use the “puzzle building” approach.
Best thing I ever did. After a few years of learning the hard way, I started putting together a program like this: I enlisted a team of dedicated and capable leaders. We divided the work and the program into sections. No one person or group of people was responsible for everything. Rehearsals were for “chunks” of the program. We laid it all out in a grid and only put everything together at the very end. We rarely had rehearsals that ran more than an hour and a half and when someone’s part was over, they were free to leave. I insured I didn’t allow the event to overwhelm anyone – not me, my staff, or anyone else.
- Don’t drift from the “Why.”
In Genesis 11, we learn about the Tower of Babel. As I read the story, I’m convinced that the sin of the people building the tower was not the building itself – it was the “why.” They were attempting the great project for “the sake of their own name.”
As artists, it can be easy for our efforts to become motivated the same way. Over time, our special events can become part of our identity and place where we find great affirmation and adulation. Don’t allow your heart to go down this path. If it already has, spend some time re-evaluating why you are doing what you are doing. If it is not to further the Gospel and to make disciples, then find a way to stop and start over.
In a few weeks, it will all be behind you. Before you start up your plans for next year, enlist the help of a group of people you trust – both inside and outside of your ministry – and have a real honest and in depth evaluation of what you are doing with your Christmas productions. Make sure you are hitting what you are aiming for. Don’t be afraid to make changes so that next year can be even more meaningful and significant with ministry impact for your church and community.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.