Yes, it’s time to think about Christmas. It’s only six weeks away, but the time to think about this is now. Many of you may plan Christmas-based sermons for the entire month of December like I do. Others of you may plan missions sermons (especially if you’re SBC, which is the time for emphasizing international missions) and preach a Christmas sermon just twice. Twice?
Usually, two services around this time really matter during Christmas time are the service the Sunday before Christmas, and the Christmas Eve Service. I include the Christmas Eve service because in my 20+ years of ministry and almost 13 years as the preaching pastor of local churches, I’m always amazed at how well Christmas Eve services are attended. People who come to these many times do not come to a regular worship gathering. So preachers should prepare as well for the Christmas season, especially Christmas Eve service Sunday-before-Christmas service.
As expositors, what do we do?
First, resist the temptation to discard or disregard or discount exposition in your sermons. Our conviction is to preach the whole counsel of God and bring out the Book. We believe that God intends for His Word to be shown and searched. That should not change.
However, second, conciseness would suit the occasion better. While the background of the Magi would be an interesting foray into biblical history, this may not time. While flexing the lexical muscles of your Greek and Hebrew prowess may impress on other Sundays, refrain on this one.
Thirdly, be concise and be clear. Roll out the main point (or the Big Idea, for all you Haddon Robinson fans), and stay tethered to it for the duration of the sermon. Get to it. Clearly. Repeatedly. Make it pass the 3 AM test, where you could call your listeners up at 3:00 AM the following week and ask them what the point of the sermon was, and they could answer!
Fourthly, be Christian. ‘Be gooder, do better’ sermons need to go the way of the do-do. Preach about not what your listeners should do, but drive home what Christ has done. Don’t pour on more law, but slather your sermon in God’s mercy and grace. Do we avoid the sticky subject of sin? No, for Christ came to save His people from just such a thing (Matthew 1:21). But by him coming is the epitome of his mercy and grace put into action, culminating at the bloody cross and the empty tomb.
Fifthly, encourage them to come, and keep coming. The church is the Bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the pillar and ground of the truth, and puts on display the manifold wisdom of God. This is a great place to be, a place where sinners can come to be with other sinners who have been rescued by Christ. Help them to take that next step in their journey with Christ. And ultimately, you want them to repent of their sins and come to Christ.
Sixthly, once they come, encourage them to connect. Christ has set up his church and various local kingdom outposts for us to join and be accountable. Through baptism, membership, connecting in a small group, connecting with another fellow member of the church for discipleship and accountability as well will provide that connection so many in our world long for, and the church provides in Christ.
Seventh, encourage them to contribute. Everyone wants to belong to something and Someone bigger than themselves. As they connect, they grow and mature to the next step of leadership and contributing to the work as ambassadors of the Kingdom. Again, help them to take that next step.
What else would you suggest as an expositor over Christmas?