We Need Christmas
Years ago, like a lot of Christians, I often lamented the commercialization of Christmas and talked at length about how our American style of materialism worked against the spirit of the season. For me, this was obvious in the way Christmas spilled to earlier starting points on the calendar. This year for example, I heard a radio station playing non-stop Christmas music the day after Halloween, and we have already received our first cards and presents in the middle of November.
But that’s okay. I don’t worry about it anymore. Because I have come to understand we need Christmas. We need Christmas so much, we are willing to devote one-sixth of the year to it, and maybe more. Sure there is profit to be made, but that is only because people want Christmas as much as possible. I grew up with Christmas season starting on Thanksgiving night. My grandchildren will look for it when they come home from trick-or-treating. That’s okay. Christmas is that valuable. Certainly it’s that big. And it is obvious there is something in Christmas that people want and need.
I have found that people also need giving. I mean, we need to give. I need to eat, sleep, exercise, have time alone and with other people, and take walks with my wife. I also need to give. It is an essential part of living. I touch something valuable and important inside me when I give away something I value to others. That’s at the heart of Christmas, but it is also a vital part of the life of any church. When we receive the offering, we are not pausing worship. The offering is one of the great acts of worship and is rightly in the middle of all that we do to honor God in a service. This is because people need to give.
However, many congregations are over-focused on the need of the church to receive. This creates a very different idea of giving that often hinges on obligation, a negative sense of duty, and the expectation that we barely have enough to give. There is no joy in this approach.
Why not talk about giving because people need to give, and trust that God will find a way to do what God wants to do with your ministry? Why not divorce the stewardship appeal from supporting the budget and make it a spiritual response of the giver to God’s blessings? Now talking about giving becomes ministry focused on people, and not some dreaded administrative task that few church leaders want to do.
I’m a lot more relaxed knowing something good is going on with ‘early Christmas.’ How can you release stress by addressing people’s need to give?