Should Churches Cancel Christmas?

Every few years, Christmas falls on a Sunday. This puts churches in a somewhat awkward place. It’s awkward particularly for those who have Christmas Eve services. Thus, many have decided to cancel Christmas morning services.

This year at New Vintage Church, we will celebrate Christ’s birth on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Whenever December 25th falls on a Sunday, this also means New Year’s Day is also a Sunday. Some churches have made the decision to double-down on Christmas Eve services and not hold services on Christmas Day.

We never really seriously considered canceling either service. The services will be different. Christmas Eve will be more contemplative, in the “high church” mold. Christmas morning will be a little more contemporary–like our typical services.

Here’s why we’re doing it the way we’re doing it:

  • We are huge fans of Christmas Eve services. We love worshiping Jesus. It’s a HUGE open door to the community and keeps Christians focused on Christ’s birth through a commercial season.
  • I’m also a huge fan of teaching our kids that worshiping Jesus trumps presents…every day, and especially Christmas.
  • There’s something about moving/canceling worship so people can “spend more time with family” that seems wrong.
Having said that, I’m not sure churches that are choosing differently (except those doing neither Christmas Eve or Christmas morning) are spurning the birth of Christ. I know some of the leaders of churches doing it differently than we are–and their commitment to Christ is not in question. They are simply being pragmatic. They would say they aren’t canceling worship, they are just moving the time slot to be thoughtful–and because they wonder if anyone will show up on Christmas morning.

Question: Do you think it matters whether a church cancels Sunday services if they have a Saturday evening Christmas Eve service? Why? P.S. Let’s be respectful in our comments 🙂

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Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Share Your Thoughts

7 thoughts on “Should Churches Cancel Christmas?

  1. I think it depends on the motive of the church for cancelling Sunday service. If the church is cancelling service on Sunday because of “low attendance” or wanting to give the staff and volunteers the day off, I would call into question the priority of the church. Our church Pastor stated he “just wanted to be with his family”. Personally, I feel this is a lame excuse for closing down the doors of the church. What about that 1 person who wants to be in church on Christmas Day?
    Is it acceptable to cancel church on Easter Sunday so the kids can be at home and have an Easter egg hunt? What’s the difference?

  2. I would have answered this differently when I was younger, but I have come to believe that cancelling on Christmas is a bad idea. That just adds to the self-serving commercialism that Christmas has become. Why cancel on the one day that many think about Jesus who may not give him a second thought the rest of the year? I do, however, think it’s a mistake to ignore Christmas in worship and just pretend it’s another day, as some fellowships have done in the past. This is a golden opportunity to take advantage of the seasonal warmth and tell the true story of Jesus.

  3. Honestly, and at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I’m not a fan of churches canceling services on Christmas day. I think it sends a lot of bad and mixed messages. That being said, we aren’t doing multiple services this Christmas, just one, and it’s beginning at a different time.

    I could go into why is a bad idea to cancel them, but no one cares.

  4. My home church is merging our first and second worship hours and canceling only the Bible study hour in between them.

    It’s always awesome when we do this, whether for a holiday or other reason, and the singing gives us all an audio sampling of heaven.

    We don’t have a Christmas eve service, which is a definite missed opportunity; and we’ll cancel Sunday night the 25th and Jan. 1 … which I personally believe is also a missed opportunity. How much critical mass is required for gathered worship? Jesus said wherever two or three were gathered in His name, He was among them.

    But no one asked me.