How to Keep Your Congregation Engaged this Christmas

“Why did we do that song on Sunday?”

I’ve asked myself that question in frustration before… how about you?

What seemed like a good idea in the music planning meeting, didn’t turn out all that great in the service on Sunday.

Maybe it was too hard, too high, too hip… whatever the reason, it didn’t connect. And as a result both me and the congregation left the service thinking, “Why did we do that song?”

Remember — when planning our worship sets, we’re not there to sing songs, but to create moments. And that’s especially important this time of year as we sing Christmas songs that have tremendous power, yet at the same time can come across mundane and boring without proper planning.

I don’t want that for your Christmas Worship sets or mine this Christmas. That’s why recently, I began this 3-part series on how to create “transformational moments” in your Christmas worship sets this year.

You see, when it comes to creating moments in our worship sets we have to look deeper than “I really like this song.”

That’s a good starting point, but for that song (or set) to really engage people in worship we have to ask some important questions. And this week the question we’re going to talk about is:

Does the Message of the Song match the Message of the Service?

There may be no more powerful way to create ongoing “moments” in your worship service this Sunday than by adhering to a simple rule that we follow for all of our worship planning at The Journey . . .

The Message Drives the Day.

This is one of our music planning core values and it reminds us that whatever we do on Sunday, we only want to tell one story!

We don’t want to sing songs about heaven, show a video clip about hell and teach a message about “How to Deal with Family Frustrations” (though th e last two could go together – ha!). Too many stories… too many places to lose your congregation.

So just tell one story . . . but tell it throughout the service.

For instance, this past Sunday at The Journey we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called “The Heart of Christmas”. The message for the day was about “Why we celebrate Christmas, and how to BEST celebrate Christmas this year”.

Rather than telling one story in the opening worship set, another story in the 2nd set, and a 3rd story in the message, we told one continuous story throughout.

  •     In the opening set our worship leaders read the account of the angels celebrating Christmas
  •     Later, our band transitioned into a song that tied into one of the main points in the message — “We celebrate Christmas because of what Jesus was born to do”
  •     We finished our set with “Joy to the World” (a celebration song

By the time we got to the message, we had created 2 powerful moments in the service already, and we set up our pastor to teach a message that brought all the pieces together.

There are a lot of facets to the Christmas story. So as you’re planning your services over the next few weeks, try to focus on just one each week. Plan all of your music and creative elements to tell one story . . . and tell it well!

Your partner in ministry,



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