In 2014, Church on the Move took a major departure from their typical Christmas services. Anyone who?s familiar with the church knows that they typically go big, theatrical, and evangelistic with their Christmas services. Their goal is to make a spectacle that brings people in from all over their community?making it the thing to do for Christmas.
But this year, a couple of things caused the creative team to take a slightly different approach to their Christmas services. For one, their creative director, Whitney George, had been given a new position as Executive Pastor. Whit had input in guiding creative decisions, but he turned the reigns over to the creative team to take the charge. Angie Woods and Andy Chrisman lead the overall creative expression for the service.
At the same time, 2014 was a big year of giving for the Church on the Move congregation. They had just adopted a new small group program that was about getting people involved in giving back to their community. They had also raised tons of money through the congregation to help fund local and international ministries. Thus there was a solid community element in the church from such a big focus on small groups.
Because of this, they felt 2014 was more of a time for the family of Church on the Move. They were still going to be making it an event that people could invite their friends to. It was still going to be evangelistic. But they also wanted to make it more worshipful. They especially wanted to celebrate all of the cool things that had been happening in their church over the last year.
So they began planning. They usually start thinking about Christmas in early October, but nothing actually happens until late October or early November. (This year is the first year they really started planning in early October.)
Note: This planning only included their Tulsa room. Their other campus in Glenpool did their own thing in their portable location. (Setup in the round, same candle lighting, and Pastor George reading the Christmas story streamed to them.)
They?ve experienced a unique dynamic in their planning because Whitney George, son of senior pastor Willie George, was their creative director for so long. There was loads of mutual trust between the two, so the creative team got to have a lot of liberty in their jobs. And even though Whitney has moved to a new position as executive pastor, they still enjoy that same sort of liberty in their creative planning.
Because there?s so much trust involved in the process, pretty much the whole service is up for grabs when it comes to the creative process. The only thing that was traditional?or assumed?for the Christmas services was Willie?s reading of the Christmas story. They began that tradition in 2005 and have done it almost every year since. It?s one of the staff’s and congregation?s favorite parts of the Christmas season, so it was just sort of expected that it would happen again. Whether they do the big spectacle of entertainment or the more worshipful experience like in 2014, they plan to do the Christmas story set to a live soundtrack each year.
Ultimately, the team accomplished what they set out to do. They were thrilled by the different stories they were able to tell during the service. They were also pleased with the response at the end of the service to their more traditional altar call.
It?s important to note that they don?t normally do an altar call like that?with people coming forward to receive something from the pastor. But because of the more traditional feel of the service, Whitney and Willie both decided it might be good to do something like that. It actually made sense in the context of the vibe of the service, especially since the whole service was a bit of a celebration about what Church on the Move had been able to accomplish that year.
It was cool for the congregation and the staff to see so many people walking down to the front of the church and accept Christ. It allowed you to see real faces and imagine real stories of people whose lives were being touched by Church on the Move.
Of course, Church on the Move will be back to their big spectacle this year. This wasn?t the normal Christmas service for them. But it was right for the church in their current season.
Here?s the take home for you and your church this Christmas season: What has God been doing in your church throughout this year? And how can you reflect that in your Christmas planning?