The following is a helpful report of how one church got really creative in how they utilized their music and arts ministry to reach their community at Christmas 2008. Great ideas as we plan toward Christmas 2009!
Guest Post by Frank Nihart, worship pastor at First Baptist Church, Deridder, LA:
As a worship leader, it was my first opportunity in a new town and a new church and ministry setting to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I knew that this church had great success in the past with their Living Christmas Tree presentations. But, I wanted to be more holistic and comprehensive in our approach.We decided to title our seasonal celebration “Christmas In DeRidder”. As part of Christmas In DeRidder we involved the Celebration Choir the first weekend with the musical “Tonight, Heaven Touches Earth” which they sang on the Living Christmas Tree. Because I wanted to do an “instrumental only” Christmas concert the next weekend, we did not use a live orchestra like they had in the past. We used the DVD accompaniment provided by the publishers of the musical. It was absolutely gorgeous.
It must have been effective since seventy people out of about 2000 who attended filled out a registration card indicating that they had prayed to receive Christ as their Savior.
Not using the orchestra for the tree gave us the financial freedom to hire a number of players to combine with our own instrumentalists and present “The Sounds of Christmas” the next Sunday afternoon. We did three full symphonic pieces and three with strings and organ only. We also featured our lead hand bell group along with several gifted instrumental soloists from our church.
The following Thursday night was a tremendous experience when fifty of our children sang “Children Go Where I Send Thee” and “Little Drummer Boy” with Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. Denver and his band play Christian big band music. You may have seen them on television on ” America ‘s Next Great Band” sponsored by American Idol in the fall of 2007. These children, their parents and their grand parents will never forget that night.
On the morning of the next Sunday our newly organized Worship Arts for Youth led us in Christmas worship through puppets, hand bells, drama, guitar ensemble and of course as a choir. We called that morning “Christmas Through Their Eyes”.
On the last Sunday of the month our “Joy Singers” led us. We called that Sunday “Christmas Continues”. We have about fifty five active singers in this group. It is a moving experience to see and hear the testimony of so many “centuries” of combined faith from this group.
To cap off Christmas In DeRidder, we had a candle light services with carols and the Lord’s Supper on Christmas Eve. We used a variety of types of music and instruments and concluded the service by singing “Silent Night” while each lighting our candles.
People are still talking about having experienced Christmas in so many ways. I would challenge all of us to find as many ways as we can to involve our people in creative corporate worship which in turn may draw non-believers in to find Jesus. Jesus said: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32)
(c) 2009 Frank Nihart
Note: Frank is a dear friend of our ministry and a great servant of God through music. He is hosting our first Next Level Worship Conference at his church February 21 of this year.