How Your Family Can Survive Multiple Christmas Eve Services

Like Don't move Unlike

If you serve on the staff of a church with multiple Christmas Eve services, you may already feel the tension mounting.

You know that this is one of the highest-impact seasons on the church calendar, and yet if you have school-aged children (or younger) no season of the year demands more of your family’s attention.

It’s the classic Christmas tug-o-war.

In my early days as executive pastor in a church of 2500, with six Christmas Eve services, I felt this tension mount every year at this time.

On the one hand, since Christmas Eve was like our church’s ‘Super Bowl’, I felt I needed to lead by example by being there for each service.

On the other hand, we had family Christmas traditions to uphold, and I

didn’t want to let down my wife and children.

By my third year, however, I had learned that it really is possible to be fully engaged in multiple Christmas Eve services, and still be fully present with my family. And if you find yourself in the same stage of life, this can be true for you too.

The key, I learned, is to fully engage your family in your church’s Christmas Eve celebrations. Rather than looking at our Christmas Eve services as something that was taking me away from my family, all five of us became volunteer maniacs at Christmas, and it became an irreplaceable part of our family Christmas traditions.

Specifically we learned four vital ingredients to achieving this:

  • Getting your children excited about the genuine fun of serving in the Christmas Eve services.
  • Guiding them into volunteer roles that interest them and suit them.
  • Reconnecting as a family during breaks between services.
  • Throwing yourselves a family party when the last service is over.

Try it. You really can win the Christmas tug-o-war

How do you manage this tension?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. This is my 6th Christmas at OBC where we do two Christmas Eve services. We’ve developed two family traditions that we practice each year with my kids.

    1. My family comes to the 4:00 service and stays for dinner between services, joining all of our staff/volunteers who are there for both services. That gives them some time with me on Christmas Eve and also includes them in what I’m doing that day.

    2. After dinner, we go to a room in the church and my kids get to open one present each. They are always amazed to find that they all got new pyjamas 🙂 My oldest is 5 so I’m sure that this year she will catch on!

    Finding a way to include family in the events of Christmas Eve is vital. I can’t imagine what would happen if my kids grow up resentful towards the church (and maybe towards God) for keeping their dad away from them the night before Christmas.

  2. Chris I love the opening one present idea. I wonder if there are other family traditions that leaders could incorporate into their Christmas Eve service routines…

    I like this one Dad. I remember our Christmas traditions, and I never EVER felt that you were unavailable or unable to “uphold” these Christmas traditions during our younger years as a family.
    I hope you have an amazing Christmas and that the Christmas services this year I’m sure will be remarkable

  4. Amy- Thanks! One of my favorites was the year you were ‘Mary’, Mom was with the little kids, me and the boys were helping with parking etc. Too fun!

    Have a great Australian Christmas Sweetie…won’t be the same here without you, but we’ll keep the traditions alive!

    (Thanks for checking your ol’ Dad’s blog too!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *