13 Things Pastors Need to Do at Christmastime
Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- joemckeever.com -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net), as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
- 2016 Dec 14
I’ve not pastored since the Spring of 2004, and so have the perspective of a good many years on this subject.
I have, of course, been in church all that time–for five years as director of missions for the SBC churches in the New Orleans area, retiring in 2009–and probably two-thirds of the Sundays have been preaching in churches far and wide, big and small, contemporary and traditional, impressive and otherwise.
I have always loved the Christmas season. I enjoy the constant carols in the department stores (although I confess that Brenda Lee’s “Rock Around the Christmas Tree” and a couple other seasonal things have outlived their usefulness with me!) and browsing the stores and the displays some stores still make. I’m good with Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings as well as Merry Christmas. One is as scriptural as the other.
If I were the pastor, once again, of a church during the Christmas season, here are a few things I would do…
–I would plan my calendar to include family time and ‘do nothing’ time. The human spirit needs such rest periods.
–I would visit every nursing home in the area with gifts. I would take along a child or two.
–I would make myself available for every retirement home/assisted living place to do a short Christmas program during December and would bring gifts to all the residents.
–I would make sure the Angel Tree program was alive and well in my church, as it blesses the families of incarcerated prisoners.
–I would support the Operation Christmas Child with its shoe boxes.
–I would never pass a Salvation Army kettle without making a donation. I do this now, but if I were pastoring, I’d encourage my flock to be generous here too.
–I’d promote our denomination’s big Christmas offering for international missions, and one thing more: I would not worry about protecting the people from requests for money. As a friend told me, “I don’t have to protect my people’s billfolds; they do that themselves.”
–I would overeat, of course. Because I always do at this time of the year.
–I would do two things at every musical presentation at my church: Welcome everyone at the start, and then conclude the program with a brief presentation of the message of Christmas and an invitation for people to give their hearts to Christ.
–I would carve out some quiet space on my calendar for myself and for my wife and me to be alone and still and together. (I’m aware I already said this more or less above, but it’s important enough to repeat.)
–I would learn all the great Christmas events going on in my area (say, a hundred mile radius) and would choose two or three of the most interesting and attend with those of my family willing. I would worship the Lord Jesus Christ at every opportunity.
–I would labor to learn how to read Scripture aloud for my people in better ways than I do now. And if I found someone–a teacher or an actor or anyone–gifted in public reading of Scripture, I would bring him/her to my church and put them to work!
And one thing more…
When Christmas Day was over, I would not take the next week as vacation. Nothing much is going on in town that week, and nothing is happening at church. So, this is a perfect week to hide in the church office and work on sermons for the New Year and beyond. Enjoy each evening with the family. Watch some ball games. Sleep late in the mornings.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. Heaven loves you enough to provide a Savior for you, for now and for always. You are amazingly blessed. Revel in it, friend.
Enjoy the joy.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: December 14, 2016