Like many of you, I have struggled to prepare Christmas sermons that are faithful to Scripture and yet engaging to an unchurched audience. This year I'll prepare sermons for my 40th Christmas season at Saddleback.
Christmas services have played a big role in Saddleback's growth through the years. We built Saddleback on two seasons: Christmas and Easter. We've called it the two humps of the camel. We'd see exponential growth during a holiday and then it would drop off a bit, but it didn't drop off much. During the rest of the year, we're typically consolidating our growth and moving people from "come and see" to the "come and die" purpose-driven paradigm I wrote about in The Purpose Driven Church.
I know some pastors have the idea that their churches will grow by adding one family a week for the rest of their existence. But that won't happen. You'll never grow a little bit by little bit. Growth usually happens in spurts. Your attendance will stay static for several months but then, on one big day, you'll jump past a growth barrier (whether it's 200, 500 or 1,000).
That's why it's so important that we're preaching messages that resonate with unchurched people during the Easter and Christmas seasons. Unless your holiday sermons engage an unchurched audience, you'll struggle to retain all those guests coming to your church.
I want to help you overcome that obstacle, so I've created a list of some of the most effective and engaging Christmas sermon ideas we've used at Saddleback.
Christmas is a time of miracles. In this sermon, I looked at four of the most important miracles of the Christmas story.
In the first Christmas story, baby Jesus messed up the plans of both Mary and Joseph. Jesus is still in the business of messing up plans. In this sermon, I taught about how God messes up our plans in order to get our attention and shift our focus to His plan for our lives.
3. Radical Joy
The very first thing the angel told the shepherds on the first Christmas was, "Behold, I bring you good news of great joy." Joy is at the heart of the Christmas story. I taught this sermon as part of my "Radicalis" sermon series focusing on radical faith, radical joy and radical love.
Jesus didn't come to Earth to be a baby. He came to grow up, live a perfect life, die on the cross and be resurrected again. He came "to seek and save the lost." In this Christmas message, I taught about the three stories of "lostness" in Luke 15—the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son—and what they can teach us about God's passion to reach the lost with the Good News about Jesus.
Jesus came on the first Christmas to give us peace—with God and with others. In this sermon, I explained the four kinds of peace that Jesus gives us and how we can have his peace in our lives on a daily basis.
Lights were important in the first Christmas. The angels orchestrated the dazzling light show in the sky, and the shepherds went to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus as a result. The wise men saw another bright light in the sky, the Star, and followed it to where the Savior was born. In this sermon, I used the theme of light to show how Jesus is the antidote to the dark days of disappointment, distress, doubt and depression.
Several people in the first Christmas story completely missed the true meaning of Christmas. In this sermon, I used the cautionary tales of these characters to provide wisdom on how our congregation can avoid missing the real meaning of Christmas in the middle of all the busyness of the season.
It can be difficult to come up with fresh and original sermons for holidays year after year, but the Christmas story is endlessly applicable to people's lives. I pray you will see the story with new eyes during this season.
I hope these ideas will provide you with some inspiration as you prepare your holiday sermons!
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times' bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
For the original article, visit Pastors.com.
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