Larger ministries with special Christmas events have been planning for months. However, when I was a worship leader at a smaller church I wouldn’t start thinking about Christmas until mid to late November as Christmas for us (in our early years meeting in an elementary school) simply meant adding a few Christmas carols to my praise sets.
You have four weeks in December and Christmas Eve (5 services) depending on the year (when Christmas Eve falls on the weekend some churches may only have the Christmas Eve service in lieu of a Sunday morning service.)
Many hipster worship leaders are, for some reason, terrified of Christmas music and simply refuse to do any carols. At all. Last year I visited a famous megachurch the Sunday before Christmas Eve and they didn’t sing a single Christmas carol (however, they did manage to bizarrely fit in a popular Easter worship song LOL!)
At the dawn of the contemporary worship movement the fear was that your rocking praise sets would come to a screeching halt as you’d be forced in December to sing carols straight out of the hymnal. Today this is simply not the case as there are hundreds of contemporized Christmas carols as well as new Christmas worship songs available to us that will fit seamlessly into any modern worship order.
Try progressively adding Christmas music to your December praise sets. Start simply and briefly: you might tack the “O Come Let Us Adore Him” chorus to the end of your regular praise set on the first December Sunday to let people know Christmas has begun.
The second Sunday you could kick off your praise set with an upbeat contemporary Christmas carol and follow it with regular praise songs. Perhaps you have a favorite, new Christmas worship song by a popular artist that you’d like to teach your congregation throughout the month. Introduce it on this second Sunday as an offertory special, then invite the congregation to sing along on the 3rd and 4th Sundays and Christmas Eve.
By the 4th Sunday you should have a full praise set of contemporary Christmas carols. This progressive planning method also makes for an easy Christmas Eve service for smaller churches – craft your Christmas Eve by choosing from the songs you’ve sung throughout the month and interweave them with Scripture readings. An added benefit: this service will require minimal rehearsal time as you and your musicians will already be familiar with the music!
Bottom Line: Start your Christmas planning now for a stress-free holiday season.