The Christmas season is one of the busiest times of year for churches. According to a recent survey by LifeWay Research, nearly 9 out of 10 Protestant senior pastors say their churches plan to hold services on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day this year, since they fall on Sundays.
Over 70% of pastors also report holding Christmas Eve services. This season is a major outreach opportunity, with more than half of Americans saying they visit church at Christmas. Many who don’t normally attend are open to invitations during the holidays.
Some megachurches have canceled Sunday services when Christmas falls on a weekend, but few pastors seem to follow suit. The survey found little demographic difference, with most churches planning Sunday services regardless of size or denomination. The one exception is African American congregations – they are less likely to hold Christmas Day services, but nearly half hold “Watch Night” services on New Year’s Eve, continuing an important cultural tradition.
For many, the Christmas story remains a meaningful symbol of hope. As one researcher put it, “The incarnation of Jesus is one of the greatest celebrations of hope that Christian churches observe.” Churches aim to share this message of hope during their busy Christmas season services.