It’s Halloween, which means Christmas decorations are going up in public places and holiday advertisements are everywhere. A phrase has been coined to describe the expansion of the Christmas season earlier and earlier into the Fall—Christmas creep. Serious studies have been done on this phenomenon, published in places like the Harvard Business Review. Despite the objections of a frustrated minority, advertisers, retailers, and entertainment companies are expanding Christmas in response to popular demand. Surveys show most people like it.

My first response is to lead the chorus of objectors. I feel like morphing into an old man yelling “get-off-my-lawn” and decrying the commercialization of Christmas and the weeks of sappy Hallmark-type movies. Reading the studies that show most adults like a longer Christmas season, however, has prompted me to reconsider my position. I have been mulling two questions. Why do people like stretching out the Christmas season? What does this mean for ministry leaders?

Christmas is a happy, hopeful time for many people. The human longing for hope is a powerful force. People have always longed for hope, but particularly as we emerge from the pandemic, many people hope Christmas will be a fresh source of hope. Unfortunately, their misplaced hopes are often connected to the fleeting pleasure of receiving a gift or the illusion of dysfunctional families somehow coming together.

People also associate Christmas with rest, with taking some time away from normal demands. Most schools and many companies wind things down near the end of the calendar year which creates a natural time to recharge for the next year’s sprint. Even more than in recent years, people are pandemic-weary and longing for rest right now.

Extending the Christmas season also satisfies, for some, a basic spiritual impulse to connect with God and his redemption story. They may only be Christmas and Easter Christians, but at least they have enough faith tradition to connect on that basic level. It may only be a flicker of spiritual interest, but at least it’s there.

So, rather than complain about Christmas creep, leaders should maximize the Christmas season to connect with needs expressed by people who expand Christmas into the fall. Focus on offering hope to hurting people. Focus on the gospel as a source of rest and peace. Focus on fanning spiritual flickers of faith, not extinguishing them by making sarcastic comments about casual commitments.

Christian leaders can become jaded by the commercialization and superficiality of cultural Christmas celebrations. We can also become frustrated by having to find new ways to tell an old story. Let’s resist those temptations. The Christmas season is an unprecedented opportunity to communicate hope to the hurting and rest to the weary. It’s a good time to fan-flickering faith and enhance relationships for future ministry.

Christmas creep tells us something about our culture. Let’s pay attention to what it means and make an intentional, positive response with the message and ministry of Jesus as the heart of Christmas this year.


Read More

Illustrating Well – An Excerpt

Dr. Jim Wilson’s new book, Illustrating Well, provides preachers with a resource to learn what makes an effective sermon illustration. You can find an excerpt of his new publication here.

James L. Wilson
Director, Doctor of Ministry Program | Professor of Leadership Formation
Dr. Jim Wilson serves as the Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program and the professor of leadership formation since 2006. Dr. Wilson has continued to serve the local church as an Interim Pastor, Transitional Pastor, Teaching Pastor, and guest speaker. He is a frequent speaker at conferences, seminars, retreats and does some International speaking.

Faculty Dialogues: Dispensationalism or Not

In this episode of Faculty Dialogues, Dr. David Rathel and Dr. Paul Wegner held a live discussion on their views on dispensationalism.

David Rathel
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Dr. Rathel is the associate professor of Chrisitian Theology at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, Dr. Rathel supplied pastoral care to churches in the United States and Scotland, served as an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy for the Baptist College of Florida, and provided teaching assistance for the University of St Andrews.

Listen

Lead On Podcast
May 15, 2022

Maintaining Perspective

Dr. Iorg encourages leaders to maintain perspective and to focus their intelletual, relational, and emotional resources on what really matters.
Lead On Podcast
May 15, 2022

Raising Men

Dr. Iorg discusses the responsibility leaders have to reach more young men with the gospel and provide them with healthy models of Christian manhood.

Watch

Faculty Dialogues: Christology

In this episode of the Faculty Dialogues, Dr. David Rathel and Dr. Rick Durst have a candid and enlightening conversation on Christology.

Rodrick K. Durst
Chair, History/Theological Studies | Professor of Historical Theology
Dr. Rodrick Durst has served as Professor of Historical Theology and a variety of administration roles at Gateway Seminary since 1991. His current research includes a study of emerging church movements, ecclesiology for rapid cell and simple church multiplication, new paths for apologetics, single adults in the church, and faith and film.

Faculty Dialogues: Providence, Prayer & Evil

In this episode, Gateway faculty from the department of theology discuss integral doctrines of providence, prayer and evil.

David Rathel
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Dr. Rathel is the associate professor of Chrisitian Theology at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, Dr. Rathel supplied pastoral care to churches in the United States and Scotland, served as an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy for the Baptist College of Florida, and provided teaching assistance for the University of St Andrews.

Get updates on new content!