Despite speculation that many church doors could remain shuttered on Christmas Day, it turns out the vast majority of Protestant pastors — 89 percent, according to a new LifeWay Research survey — plan to hold services on Dec. 25.
And while 9 in 10 senior pastors said church will continue as planned, 71 percent also said they plan to hold Christmas Eve services — and 85 percent plan to host New Year’s Day services.
This is notable, considering both Christmas and New Year’s fall on Sundays. While the Christmas season is a time in which churches reach out to people with the gospel message, this year some critics have worried that the holiday falling on a Sunday will mean fewer churches remain open.
After all, parishioners, like everyone else, tend to travel to see family, or have special morning traditions inside their homes — events and happenings that might cause them to stay in rather than venture out to church.
No one knows for sure how many people will actually show up to the vast majority of churches keeping their doors open this year on both Christmas and New Year’s, though it’s certainly notable that so many pastors have chosen to do so.
“Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year especially at churches, with many churches having extra Christmas Eve services and special programs,” Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said in a statement. “If Christmas falls on Monday through Saturday, churches might be closed on Dec. 25—but almost never on a Sunday.”
There were some slight differences among denominations. While more than 90 percent of pastors affiliated with Church of Christ, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian/Reformed and Holiness denominations are planning to hold services on Christmas Day, a lower proportion of Pentecostals — 79 percent — said the same.
These results are based on phone surveys with more than 1,000 Protestant senior pastors. Read the complete results here.
As Faithwire previously reported, some pastors have come out pleading with their fellow faith leaders not to bow to pressure and cancel Sunday services. Among them is Pastor Kevin DeYoung of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, who penned a recent op-ed on the subject for the Gospel Coalition.
“Dear brother pastor, I hope it’s not too late to make you reconsider your decision to cancel church on Christmas. I know that December is crazy busy—for you and for everyone else,” DeYoung wrote. I know you probably have Christmas Eve services, maybe even one that bumps up against midnight. I know that families like to gather Christmas morning to open presents.”
(H/T: LifeWay Research)
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