About as mysterious as knowing how the many robots help to fulfill the billions of Amazon orders that happen every hour is what life as a church staff member looks like during December. As a worship leader and musician, Christmas means more work than at any other point in the year–including Easter. This past May, I left my position of more than ten years as one of the three main worship leaders at a great church near Nashville, TN. I exited to pursue a personal music and author career, so I’m glad to say that the parting was on great terms. With that mindset, I’m letting you in on what a church staff goes through in December so you’ll know how to pray and support them.
ONE: Christmas concerts
Each year, our church produced a Christmas show that was free for our community. This was a large scale production that involved several rehearsals. Those typically included: a vocal-only rehearsal on Thursday evening from 7-9pm; the following week a Tuesday night band and vocal rehearsal from 8:30pm-10:30pm (After normal Tuesday night rehearsal for weekend worship); a Thursday night dress rehearsal from 6:30pm-9pm; a Sunday afternoon for camera run-through before the actual Christmas concert. Each of these came in the midst of regular Tuesday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning rehearsals and services. Plus, I was in charge of music for the youth group that met on Wednesday evenings, so I’d be there as well.
TWO: Christmas Eve
Taking from the previous paragraph about Christmas concerts (the concert was typically scheduled for December the 10th), you can use that same schedule for Christmas Eve services two weeks later. While our church only performed one or two Christmas concerts, we held as many as five Christmas Eve services over two days. Yes, some of our Christmas Eve services were actually Christmas Eve Eve. This meant that in December I was gone most nights of the week for rehearsals and youth meetings. My wife and her friends in the same circumstance called themselves Christmas widows during this time. As you might imagine, Christmas Eve became a type of finish line for us.
THREE: Christmas visits/pastoral care/parties/gift wrap…
Beyond the scheduled concerts and services, staff members are extra busy visiting with members of the congregation who have lost someone during the year and it’s their first Christmas alone. Pastoral care is ramped up in this season. Plus, we are often invited to everyone’s Christmas party. While it’s an honor, it’s still a time commitment. Adding to all of that, our church wrapped presents for free at the local mall and we always had at least one-time slot to fill. Phew!
So, why tell you all of this? If you’re on a church staff, you can likely relate. If you’re not, I invite you in to understand what December looks like for them. Pray for your church staff. I’m recognized all over our city. The people I’m with often ask me what it’s like to have people know me around. The truth is, it’s like being famous without any of the money. Church staff members are some of the most hardworking and considerate people on the planet. The church I worked for had nearly fifty full-time employees who often gave more of themselves to our congregation than was ever asked of them.
So, when you see one of your church staff members, tell them “thank you”. Give them a Christian side hug. Don’t invite them to your Christmas party if you aren’t really friends with them or it would make them uncomfortable. Lastly, pray daily for their clarity of mind, strength of body, and peace in their family.