Overheard between two pastors at a January Ministers’ meeting:
Pastor 1: Happy New Year, brother! How was Christmas at your church? Good?
Pastor 2: More or less.
Pastor 1: More or less?
Pastor 2: Well, yeah. I mean it was good. I’m just still worn out from everything. I feel like the whole church just ran a marathon. It was all good, but there was so much going on.
Pastor 1: I know exactly what you mean. I feel the same way. I told my wife after it was all over that we seemed to squeeze so much into Christmas that we squeezed Jesus out!
Pastor 2: Why do we let that happen?
Pastor 1: I don’t know. Christmas just takes on a life of it’s own, and we just end up caught in the whirlwind.
Pastor 2: You got that right!
Pastor 1: You think we’ll do anything different next year?
Pastor 2: Probably not.
Pastor 1 and 2: Laughter!
Whether it’s Christmas or Easter, the high and holy days of the Christian church, it might be time for pastors to step back and consider the Principle ofLess is More, and make the choice that leaders sometimes need to make between more or less:
• Less hype and more Holy
• Less noisy days and more silent nights
• Less calendar and more communion
• Less work and more worship
• Less sensational and more incarnational
• Less pageantry and more praise
• Less jingle and more Jesus
• Less season and more Savior
• Less presents and more Presence
• Less tinsel and more Truth.
The Christmas tree could serve as an object lesson to leaders. A Christmas tree of simple, unadorned elegance is often the most beautiful and meaningful.
Too often our churches are like an over-decorated Christmas tree. Every branch and bough is so loaded down with every conceivable ornament that the tree itself becomes invisible, lost in the cosmetics of Christmas.
To avoid the holiday hangover that often accompanies a New Year, pastors would do well to lead their churches to celebrate the simple, unadorned elegance of the birth of Jesus and the beauty and grace of the incarnation with all its meaning of hope to humanity.
Truth has its own beauty, power, and meaning. Christmas is Truth. The less we adorn it, the more we adore Him!
Hal West spent 33 years as a pastor with an emphasis on creating effective change and transition in a traditional church setting. He is the President of Compass Coach and Consulting (compasscoachandconsulting.com) whose mission is to assist pastors and churches find the road to success. He has authored 3 books. His latest is The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back (CrossBooks Publishing, 2011)