How to survive Christmas as a Worship Pastor // Anna Hellebronth

There is nothing like the Christmas season. I love it! Yes, the lights, mulled wine, trees, but more than anything, it seems the time to embrace your community.

For the church, boy is it busy! 

Being the Worship Pastor at our church, I always know that I’ve got to get ON IT with my diary from September to December, tighten the seatbelt and enjoy the craziness. Embrace it. Laugh. Let things go. Work hard. Don’t be afraid to put other things on hold.

It’s a hugely significant time of year for the church where we welcome guests perhaps for their first visit ever or for a long time. We work so hard to invite people all year round yet at Christmas, inhibitions come down - it’s like it’s almost fashionable to be at church. Come on!!

It is always worth the hard work. Remember that when you’re up late at night, hanging fairy lights from the rafters on a dodgy ladder (don’t worry, we do actually comply with health and safety regs). There is something about busting your gut as a team to pull something off that brings you much closer together.

I remember speaking a couple of years ago with Simon Harper (Worship Pastor in Liverpool) and sharing about what hard work it was. I remember him saying “Yeah but it does something to you, it does something in your Spirit”. He was right. When our worship is unseen and costly, it brings God great joy and cultivates a deep satisfaction within us. Through the process He deposits something in us that your team can also share in. 

The key word here is TEAM. It’s never fun, feeling like you are working hard, all by yourself. We have to make it sustainable and enjoyable - the only way to do that is with a team. And it’s a brilliant opportunity to invite others into the adventure.

I’d love to just share some practical tools that helped us focus, work as a team and really enjoy the process:

1. Find a theme.

Once you lock down a theme - everything else follows. This can sometimes be the most difficult part. Dream, go big and then boil down (be wary of boiling down too quickly). Also, stick to the story - the Incarnation - God became human - it’s a pretty incredible story as it is but think about the use of language and creativity to make it come alive again. From a worship point of view, this is an incredible opportunity to go wild on creativity. So many carols have such stunning and deep lyrics, think about how to draw out their meaning. Hunt out any musicians or creatives who will help bring a new sound to the traditional lyric. It gives me goosebumps to know the power of what we are singing over people.

2. Make a plan.

This year, we put different people in charge of each element (Marketing, Video, Worship, Production, Hosting). We set dates to meet every 3 - 4 weeks and communicated that these were planning and update meetings only. Whatever each person needed to make happen, happened outside of those times. Our senior pastors had the final say on everything but my role (or a Producer role) was about checking in and making sure the plates are all spinning, offering support or direction where needed. 

Set the goals, set the pace and COMMUNICATE. Get organised with rehearsals - you want everyone there, get the rehearsal dates out early - no excuses! It’s so important to have everyone on board and prepared.

3. Marketing.

Marketing is crucial! These days, social media is such a valuable resource. And it’s free! You don’t have to be a pro (although try and research how best to use it), just try and be clear. Give your theme a visual trigger that can be used for everything from flyers to stage design. Consistency in the message is really important. Word of mouth is always the most effective so whatever happens, over-communicate to your church about it.

4. Running Order.

Think of the whole service as one big worship set. Take people on a journey; giving good amounts of content, inspiration, revelation, moments to breathe or reflect, and moments to respond. Practically, a running order gives the whole team a really good framework to operate within. With creativity, you always need some boundaries and it can be as simple as having a running order.