10 Things I’d Do Differently as a Pastor During the Christmas Season

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It’s December, and the Christmas season is upon us. As I look back on my years as a senior pastor, I think of things I would do differently during this season today if I were again a senior leader in a church. Here are some of those things:


  1. I would spend more time teaching the theology of the incarnation. I talked a lot about Jesus’ coming in the flesh, but I didn’t spend nearly enough time helping my church members understand all that truth meant.
  2. I would tell the whole gospel story more often. I fear I so focused on the birth of Jesus that I may have missed opportunities to talk about His death and resurrection. Christmas alone is only one part of the story.
  3. I would preach more about the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. That way, I would also be teaching about the reliability of the Word as I taught about Christ’s coming. The story of Christmas does not start in Bethlehem.
  4. I would lead my church to develop ongoing ministries to our community – not just temporary steps to help people during the holiday season. It’s great to give gifts to the poor and feed the hungry during the Christmas season, but those needs exist the rest of the year, too.
  5. I would teach more about the stories behind Christmas hymns. Hymns like “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” have incredibly powerful stories behind them that are both inspirational and convicting. We sing them differently when we know their origin.
  6. I would challenge my church members to give at least as much to missions as they spend on people they know. Surely the work of God matters more than the temporary stuff we give one another.
  7. I would take time each week to introduce my church to a people group that has no knowledge of Jesus. That way, they could pray for people for whom December 25th means absolutely nothing.
  8. I would attend fewer Christmas parties. I know that it’s hard to choose among all of them, but pastors can be committed every night for weeks if they attend every party in the church. I wore myself out so much that I couldn’t wait for the season to be over.
  9. I would send more cards to families who lost loved ones during the previous year. I didn’t know then how much you miss departed loved ones when the family gathers. Now, I do—and I realize I missed an opportunity to minister to others.
  10. I would fast at least one day during the season. At one level, fasting is an expression of longing for the Redeemer (Matt. 9:14-15). In the midst of a season of often too much eating, I would want to long for Christ more than for food.

What would you do differently? What ARE you doing differently?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published at


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MDiv Preaching and Pastoral Ministry

The Preaching and Pastoral Ministry track prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on expository preaching.

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Chuck Lawless

Director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership

Dr. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctoral Studies, and Vice-President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. He previously served as a Vice-President for Global Theological Advance for the IMB. Prior to that, he was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as Vice President for Academic Programming and the Director of Professional Doctoral Studies. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals. He and his wife Pam have been married for over 25 years and reside here in Wake Forest, NC.

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