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I was on Twitter the other day and discovered there’s a big debate among evangelical churches about whether to have church on Christmas Sunday.
At first I thought I was being punked — Babylon-bee’d.
But it turned out to be true – a good many evangelical churches will not have services on Sunday.
One popular Southern Baptist megachurch pastor in North Carolina told The New York Times that his church would be closed on Sunday.
For some of the largest congregations, the more popular Christmas Eve services are a major opportunity to attract people in their communities who don’t otherwise attend church. The Summit Church, whose 11 locations in North Carolina draw about 11,000 people on a typical weekend, and up to 20,000 in the days before Christmas, will host at least 17 Christmas services on Dec. 22 and 24, events requiring the services of hundreds of volunteers and staff members.
The church will be closed on Christmas Day.
“Sunday is the Lord’s Day, and it ought to be a day you spend with the family of Christ,” said J.D. Greear, the church’s pastor, who was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2018 to 2021. “But I don’t want to be the Pharisees of this generation, where I turn it into some kind of rule that there’s never an exception for.” He pointed to the Bible’s account of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath, in defiance of local customs about proper behavior on that day.The New York Times
Pharisees? Encouraging people to go to church on Christmas Sunday makes you a Pharisee?
Instead, many pastors are calling on church members to spend time with their family.
“I hear people say, oh, well, we can’t have it Christmas services because Christmas is for families. It’s about family. Well, no, it’s not about families. It’s about the son of God who came and died and rose again so that we could be a part of God’s family,” said Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.
And others argue that there’s just too much going on with Christmas celebrations to attend a local service. They say it’s not convenient.
“Well, it wasn’t convenient for the Son of God to leave heaven and come to be born into beating, drop and crucified,” Jeffress said. “But He did it even though it wasn’t convenient because he loved us.”
So what does it say about American Christians that they would snub Jesus on his birthday?
“I mean, of all the days you ought to be celebrating, that ought to be on Christmas Day,” Jeffress said. “And we’re having Christmas Eve services and then we’re having a full service Sunday morning. It’s going to be great.”
He said that for a church to close on Christmas would be like a fireworks stand being closed on the Fourth of July.