89% of Pastors Will Hold Worship Services on Christmas Sunday: LifeWay

Nearly nine out of 10 American Protestant pastors plan to hold worship services on Christmas Sunday this year, according to LifeWay Research.

In a survey released on Monday, LifeWay found that 89 percent of Protestant pastors surveyed were planning to hold worship services on Christmas Day. 

Taken from a sample space of 1,000 pastors surveyed from Aug. 22 to Sept. 16, LifeWay noted that support for holding worship on Christmas Sunday was overwhelming across various denominations and congregation sizes.

"Leaders of Lutheran (94 percent), Church of Christ (93 percent), Baptist (91 percent), Presbyterian/Reformed (91 percent) and Holiness (92 percent) churches are most likely to say their church will hold Christmas Day services. Pentecostals (79 percent) are less likely," noted LifeWay.

"Eighty-four percent of pastors whose churches have fewer than 50 attenders say their church will hold services on Christmas. So do 85 percent of pastors with more than 250 attenders. Among pastors of mid-size churches — those with 100 to 249 attenders — 92 percent say their church will hold Christmas Day services."

(Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)Actors dressed as Mary and Joseph carrying a baby representing Jesus, lead other actors portraying the Three Wise Men as part of a live human and animal nativity scene in front of the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol (background) in Washington, December 5, 2012. The Christian Defense Coalition gathered to demonstrate that such displays are protected by the First Amendment. The event was a reaction to other courts involvement in the banning of nativity scenes in some parts of the United States.

In addition to 89 percent of pastors saying they will hold services on Christmas, 85 percent plan to hold worship on New Year's Day, which also falls on a Sunday.

"Most senior pastors (85 percent) also say their church will hold Sunday worship services on New Year's Day. Leaders of Presbyterian/Reformed (92 percent) and Church of Christ (95 percent) congregations are more likely to say their churches will be open," continued LifeWay.

"LifeWay did find some demographic differences in attitudes among pastors. White pastors (86 percent) are more likely to say their church will worship on New Year's Day. African-American pastors (65 percent) are less likely."

This year, Christmas falls on a Sunday, leading some churches to cancel their usual worship schedule and only hold services on Christmas Eve.

One example is North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. Led by Pastor Andy Stanley, instead of Christmas Sunday, the megachurch will hold three services on Friday, Dec. 23 and three more on Christmas Eve on Saturday.

In the past, North Point Community Church has been known to also cancel Sunday services on years when Christmas fell on a Saturday.

"The Sunday between Christmas and New Year's just gives us a great opportunity to say thank you, prioritize your family, enjoy a week off," said Bill Willits, executive director of ministry environments at North Point Ministries in an interview with The Christian Post from 2010.

Other evangelical megachurches, including the Chicago-based Willow Creek Community Church and Immanuel Bible Church of Springfield, Virginia, will hold one service instead of their usual multiple services.

"We will not be having any children's Sunday school or adult Bible fellowships. We have found over the years that trying to cobble together children's ministry on Christmas Day is difficult in light of families traveling away for Christmas," said Steve Holley of Immanuel Bible Church in an interview with CP earlier this week.

"We have always held a service on Christmas Sundays unless we are completely snowed out. Many times we will cancel our first two Sunday morning services due to inclement weather and at least try having one service at 11."

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