Megachurches Cancel Sunday Services after Christmas

Thou shalt keep the Sabbath Day - except when it falls the day after Christmas.

After gearing up for Christmas services throughout this week, several megachurches will wind down by canceling Sunday worship on Dec. 26th.

Pastors and church leaders say taking that day off allows the staff and volunteers more time to spend with their family during a traditionally busy season.

North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., pastored by Andy Stanley, will be among the churches closing its doors this weekend after holding four Christmas services.

"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, director for ministry environments at North Point, which draws 23,000 people across its three campuses on a typical Sunday.

Willits told The Christian Post that the church requires at least 2,000 volunteers every week to pull off one of the Sunday morning services.

Hundreds of those volunteers include high school students who help with the middle school worship environments before going to their own service time.

He said the church has always taken the Sunday after Christmas off, a move that has been widely applauded.

"We're 15 years old and we've always done it," said Willits. "Our volunteers are very, very grateful because it's such a busy season."

Pastor Perry Noble of New Spring Church in Anderson, S.C., also cited recovery time for volunteers as the reason for canceling communal worship time on Sunday.

Church workers will put on 17 Christmas services across four different campuses, drawing over 20,000 in attendance.

The hiatus allows the church's "staff and amazing volunteers some time to catch their breath," Noble wrote on his blog.

For many megachurches, the decision to cancel the post-Christmas Sunday service is also a practical one.

Willits said that many worshippers at North Point's campuses travel outside the area during that weekend. At the Buckhead campus in Tower Place, at least half of the 6,000 congregants are single adults who visit their parents' house for Christmas.

"A lot of our members leave for home for the holidays," said Willits.

The North Point director rejected the idea that not holding Sunday service for one day out of the year would hinder the church's mission, pointing out that the church has over 12,000 adults in small groups throughout the city every week.

"Those are really ongoing expressions of the body of Christ," he said. "It's not just Sunday to Sunday. Small groups are allowing the church to be the church in the community every week."

Many other megachurches are holding Sunday services this week but holding fewer service times.

Dallas-area Village Church, headed by Pastor Matt Chandler, will be combining its children, middle school and high school services with the adult services.

"We receive a lot of requests to allow the families to worship altogether," said Gilbert Montez, director of communications at Village Church, to The Christian Post.

He said the service format will also be shortened from about 75-80 minutes long to 50 minutes.

Next year, the Christmas season schedule will pose an even greater challenge to megachurches since Christmas Day will fall on a Sunday.

It's going to be tough, acknowledged Montez, but said the church usually doesn't cancel services altogether and doesn't plan to next year.

"It's on Sunday but it's also a day of worship," he said.

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