Christmas day falls on Sunday this year, so many churches will have a full weekend of inspiring worship and other ministries to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Happening every five to seven years, Christmas on Sunday offers a special opportunity for church members, seekers and those who are “just curious” to come together.

Here are some of the ideas that clergy, worship planners and other leaders shared via Facebook and Twitter when asked, “What are your plans for Christmas Sunday?”

The tips below summarize the many great – but sometimes similar – ideas.

Worship. Pastors who lead from one to five services on Christmas Eve will greet members and guests again on Christmas morning. Many are planning services, where the exciting merriment of Christmas morning will contrast with the soft lights and quieter joy of Christmas Eve. Here are a few of the adjustments.

  • Use the arts. A message will be a part of every service. You can preach the message or deliver it in other ways. Music is almost synonymous with Christmas. Give people time to sing the hymns and carols they love. Perhaps, you can have someone present a Christmas monologue or short drama and intersperse the speaking with singing. A relaxed, modified “Lessons and Carols” service can let worshippers sing their favorite songs between readings of Scripture and other seasonal selections.
  • Bless the toys. Help children connect the gifts they receive on Christmas with the gifts the Magi brought to Jesus. You could also use this blessing on Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 1, in 2012.
  • Change times. You might consider moving morning worship to early afternoon or Christmas evening. If you usually have two services on Sunday, consider having one service on Christmas morning – and split the time difference.
  • Serve. Jesus’ birth was the Incarnation of God’s love. Following this model, several congregations will “put skin on God’s love” by reaching out to their neighbors.
  • Be like shepherds. Participants in a Shepherds’ Run make stops on their way home from church to deliver cookies, candies or other goodies to police, fire fighters and other emergency workers, convenience store employees, hospital staff and others working on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
  • Collect food. Food collections abound during Advent – but by mid-January and early February, many food pantries have bare shelves. Ask people to bring a gift of food on Christmas.
  • Build a community. Whatever other plans you are making, be sure you are intentional in welcoming newcomers or those who may not have been at church for some time. In members’ excitement as they greet family and friends who may have come from a distance, they may overlook newcomers.
  • Invite inactive members to come home for Christmas. One congregation is inviting members who have been inactive to commit to being a part of worship.
  • Consider streaming. For those people who cannot be physically present for a service on Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve), consider web streaming your service so they can view it wherever they are.
  • Give to the Bishop’s Christmas Offering for Children. If your congregation has not yet scheduled the Indiana Conference Bishop’s Christmas Offering for Children, Christmas day would be the perfect time to invite them to support children’s ministries here in Indiana and around the world. Promotional materials are available online at

A UMNS photo by John Gordon

German prisoners of war during World War II spent a year creating a 60-piece Nativity from concrete and plaster during their captivity at Camp Algona in Iowa. United Methodist Men at Algona United Methodist Church built a permanent home for the display and have cared for the Nativity since 1958. More than 2,000 people view the Algona Nativity each year.