Closed for Christmas, even churches

Speculations have surfaced that some churches are combating the nominal C&E (Christmas & Easter) Christians by keeping their doors closed on Christmas this year, to goad these nominal Christians to either attend more regularly or don’t come at all.

I had first picked up on this breaking story via the CT Weblog, as it made its circuit over mainstream news media (with lots of help from the AP wire), and then yesterday landing on the front page of the New York Times: When Christmas Falls on Sunday, Megachurches Take the Day Off (cf. more at Google News search). According to Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in greater Atlanta, his church had been closed on the Sunday after Christmas since it started, but it seems only this year that it has generated buzz [cf. a most lengthy commentary by InternetMonk; and lengthy comment thread at GetReligion].

I’ll not track down all the articles and blogs buzzing about this. We all love snow days, students and teachers alike. Just as we have school closings for snow here in the metro DC area, here’s the unofficial list of church closings on Christmas:

Church Closings for December 25th, 2005 (no links, b/c they’re closed after 100s of celebrations)

Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL)
Southland Christian Church (Nicholasville, KY)
Crossroads Christian Church (Lexington, KY)
Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX)
Watermark Community Church (Dallas, TX)
Redemption World Outreach Center (Greenville, SC)
Seacoast Church (Charleston, SC and other locations)
North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA)
First Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA)
Mars Hill Bible Church (Grandville, MI)
Grace Fellowship Church (Timonium, MD)
Church of the Redeemer (Gaithersburg, MD) (changed)
Northview Christian Life Church (Carmel, IN)
Grace Community Church (Noblesville, IN)
Calvary Chapel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) (changed)
Christ Fellowship (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Flamingo Road Church (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Christ the Rock Community Church (Cooper City, FL)
RockHarbor (Costa Mesa, CA)
Harbor Christian Center (Gig Harbor, WA)
Northland, A Church Distributed (Longwood, FL)
Kensington Community Church (Troy, MI)
Calvary Christian Center (Louisville, KY)
Ambassador Bible Church (Centreville, VA)
All Souls Church, Unitarian (Washington, DC)
Lord of Life Church (Indiana, PA)
Skyline Presbyterian Church (Tacoma, WA) (changed)
Bridgeway Community Church (Columbia, MD)
Grace Community Church (Columbia, MD)
History Church (Oak Hill, VA)
National Community Church (Washington, DC)
Reston Bible Church (Reston, VA)
Mosaic Manhattan (New York City, NY)
The River Church (Poughkeepsie, NY)
Journey’s Crossing (Gaithersburg, MD)
Discovery Christian Church (Pittsburgh, PA)
Watermarke Church (Canton, GA)
Liquid (Austin, TX)
St. Paul’s Collegiate Church at Storrs (Storrs, CT)
NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC)
LifeChurch (locations in OK and AZ)
Neighborhood Church (Redding, CA)
Center Point Church (North Richland Hills, TX)
Ethnos (San Diego, CA)
Revolution Church (Long Beach, CA)
Mariners’ Church (Annapolis, MD)

I love going to all kinds of churches. Our family tradition for Christmas and Easter is not to stay home, but to attend as many churches as possible. So for people in the church-forsaken places like Chicagoland, Dallas, and Atlanta, here are some churches open for Christmas [recommend a church for thousands who are without – add a comment below]:

New Community Covenant Church (Chicago, IL)
Grace Outreach Center (Plano, TX)
Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, TX)
Park Cities Presbyterian Church (Dallas, TX)
Lifepoint Community Church (Greenville, SC)
Mount Paran Church of God (Atlanta, GA)
Crossroads Church of Atlanta
Perimeter Church (Atlanta, GA)
Resurrection Life Church (Grandville, MI)
Gaithersburg Community Church (Gaithersburg, MD)
McLean Bible Church (McLean, VA)
Providence Baptist Church (Raleigh, NC)
Young Nak English Ministry (Los Angeles, CA)
Cedar Ridge Community Church (Spencerville, MD)
Barstow Free Methodist Church (Barstow, CA)
Faith Community Church (West Covina, CA)
ChurchReviews.org listings (for Louisville; Chicago)
Barrington Houses of Worship
my index of online church directories and search engines

* Note: neither listing above is disapproval nor endorsement – simply public information; also listen to NPR’s All Things Considered piece on this [aired on 12/14/05]

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12 Responses

  1. ksc says:

    I was/am gonna blog about this and what people thought about it. It’s interesting because at our church, our pastoral staff was going back and forth on whether we would have more people on Christmas Sunday/Day service or less. Would it be a good outreach Sunday, as past Christmas Sundays?

    As I began to research about a month or two ago, I found that churches are cancelling their services. For our church (YNEM), being an Asian-American (mostly Korean) church, this was confusing. Culturally, Koreans attend church on Christmas Day, even when it doesn’t land on Sunday and many come out as part of their Christmas tradition. Even people who have left the church or haven’t been in a while might come on Christmas day with their parents as a family tradition. So, in some way, this might be a prime time to be outsider focused (although we desire to be outsider focused all the time).

    So, this is an example of being caught in two cultures, and seeing which culture will dominate the church culture. Time will tell … we will see.

    There are many people in our church who sound like they are judging these churches that are closing on Christmas Sunday. What I don’t like about that is that they seem like they are imposing their own cultural values on these churches, which might not even know what these churches stand for.

    But all of this is so interesting to dialogue about.

  2. Greg Surratt says:

    Our church, Seacoast, is one on your list. I have posted a response at http://www.gregsurratt.org

  3. Our church has always had the tradition of having service on Christmas Eve and not on Christmas Day- We will be doing that this year as well, even though Christmas is on a Sunday. Our Christmas service will be on the 18th. And yesterday we went caroling to invite others to our church-I think our church is celebrating the season quite well. I don’t think canceling Sunday service is a big deal. It is nice to have a holiday where the pastor and musical ministry do not have to get up early and set up for church- Do attendees and these Newspaper writers realize the work involved in every service? It sure is a labor of love. Don’t they realize that church staff like to open presents too? Parents will be up very late getting ready and the kids will be up very early to open them!! It is enough to get Christmas Dinner ready [or travel to it] in early afternoon- While worhsip is important- this American drive to always be on the run and rushing to and fro- has got to go! [And personally, I wonder why we can’t have more evening services- I am no morning person anyway!] On Christmas our family prefers to slow down and relfect on Jesus’ gift to us. Our family will have a birthday cake and will sing ‘happy birthday to Jesus.’ The kids can blow out the candle. We do not need a big church production to worship him.

    Blessings and Merry Christmas
    deborah

  4. yvonne says:

    Hey Deej,

    I’m proud to say Providence is “open for business” Christmas Eve (Love Feast), Christmas Day and New Year’s day, so add that to your list! 🙂 But, they’re only doing one service as opposed to the regular 3. Our choir is even supposed to sing in the Christmas Day service.

  5. ksc says:

    oh yeah, you can add us (Young Nak English Ministry – http://www.ynem.org) to the list of churches having Christmas Day service as well.

  6. betsy says:

    Our services at Cedar Ridge:
    Christmas Eve: 8pm
    Christmas morning: 11am
    New Years Day – 9am and 11am

    I have never in my 43-year-churchgoing-life (Episcopal, then independent evan/’emerging’) been to a service on Christmas day, and I have been looking forward to it.

  7. In case you want to visit Seacoast this Christmas:
    Dec 23
    6:00 p.m.
    Dec 24
    2:00 p.m.
    4:00 p.m. (4 locations)
    6:00 p.m. (7 locations)
    8:00 p.m. (3 locations)
    Dec 25
    No services

    While we do not have a service on Christmas day, all are welcome at the other 16 Christmas celebrations.

  8. Chris Monroe says:

    the church I pastor is meeting on Christmas Sunday: 10am

    And… the megachurch I grew up in will also be open:

    Faith Community Church

  9. Mo says:

    Accidentally stumbled on your website July 1, 2006; Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg, MD did have services on Christmas day. Correction, please.

  10. djchuang says:

    This is an old post dated from 2005 — so the comments are now closed.