Every year you find yourself at ‘that place’ again. You know, the one where you go to your local Christian or online store or to sift through selections looking for the perfect church Christmas play.
It’s a big responsibility and can be an exhausting process.
So how can you know when you’ve found the perfect Christmas play that fits your church’s culture, talent pool and financial resources?
A play that:
• You’ll be proud to have your name attached to.
• The cast and production team will enjoy working on.
• Your pastor and church leadership will feel comfortable with.
• Will minister to your congregation and community.
Below are five tips to help you choose a church Christmas play fits the needs of your church. We hope this makes your job easier and helps you find the perfect Christmas play for your church this year.
Tip #1: Choose a play based on Biblical principles
The first question you want to ask when choosing a church Christmas play is the most important: is the program Biblical?
It might surprise you to know that not all church Christmas plays are based on Biblical truths. Sometimes, in an effort to be creative, writers focus on universal topics like ‘love’, ‘giving’ or ‘social concerns’. While these topics are important and can be based on scriptural principles, they may not necessarily in and of themselves provide a strong enough Biblical foundation to communicate the Christmas message.
This is stating the obvious, but it needs to be said: you want your church Christmas play to communicate the truths of the gospel – whether that’s a recounting of the traditional Christmas story or a modern approach.
Some ‘warm and fuzzy’ elements are fine, but if the program doesn’t deliver meaningful and life-changing truth based on Biblical doctrines of repentance and salvation, shouldn’t you consider a different program that does?
Tip #2: Your choice should match your church’s skill and technical level.
It’s disheartening when a drama team is handed a script that doesn’t match their talent level.
If your actors are less experienced and the program is written for a high level of talent, try as they might, they may just not be up for the task. This can produce feelings of inadequacy and fear.
Conversely, if you have actors who are very experienced, handing them a program that is less than challenging will not motivate them. They may feel the program is ‘beneath’ them and back out.
You need to know the level of experience and skill in your creative team and try to find a church Christmas play that matches that level.
Smaller churches often struggle to find seasoned actors, singers, as well as technicians who can master professional-quality lighting and sound.
Larger churches often have more seasoned talent pools, which allow for greater flexibility of choice.
So when searching for your play, be sure the production fits your church’s skill level. If you have doubts, run it by some of your key leaders in your creative team and ask for their feedback.
Let them help you make the decision and you’ll have their buy-in from the beginning.
Tip #3: It should offer a fresh approach.
Although your congregation won’t remember everything about previous Christmas programs you’ve presented, they will remember enough to know whether or not you’re doing the same thing, something similar or forging new ground.
Why is it important to keep things fresh?
In today’s technologically savvy world, people bore easily. With hundreds of cable television channels, tens of thousands of You Tube videos, movies-on-demand, websites, social media and on and on – it’s more important than ever to be creative, memorable and fresh. Lose your creative edge and you might lose your audience.
Think back over the past five years, review your Christmas programs and ask yourself if there’s been enough variety in your program selections to appeal to a range of dramatic tastes, musical tastes – even entertainment formats vs. evangelistic formats.
If your program feels the same from year to year, step outside of the box, and your comfort zone and choose a bold, new direction.
As a creative person, you will find yourself challenged and invigorated as the producer/director. You will renew the excitement for your cast and production team. And your church will appreciate the fresh approach.
Tip #4: The play should fit your budget.
If your church is like most, it operates within a budget – which means your church Christmas play may or may not be included.
Some churches have fine arts departments which budget for productions. Others budget their productions within their worship department or maybe there’s even a special budget category for ‘evangelistic outreaches’ or ‘missions’.
If you aren’t familiar with how your church allots funds for productions, ask questions and get a full understanding of how to proceed.
Regardless of the amount of your budget, take care to spend wisely. Use what you already have, ask for donations of costumes and decorations, and look for creative ways to save money. Your pastor and/or finance committee will appreciate your thriftiness.
But What If You Don’t Have a Budget?
If your church has no budget, you still pull off an incredible church Christmas play. You just have to be more creative, more intentional with asking for donations, and using volunteers to make costumes or design and build your set.
This is a great opportunity to pull your creative department together and organize a fundraiser to raise your own budget. Fundraisers are a great team-building experience and your pastor and church leaders will appreciate your initiative.
The Bottom Line
The truth is, it’s not about the amount of money you have to work with but the amount of passion, creativity and effort you put forth. Remember that your goal is to produce a program that merits the gospel message and one to which your congregation will be proud to invite their guests.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. And it doesn’t have to be cheap as dirt. Somewhere in the middle is just fine.
Tip #5: A Christmas play should meet your objectives.
As you consider your options when choosing a church Christmas play, ask yourself what you are hoping to accomplish with your church Christmas play.
If you’ve not established objectives for your Christmas play, why not stop now and decide what you hope to accomplish?
Don’t do a church Christmas program just because you’ve always done it. Establish objectives for your program and the outcome you hope for. This will give you a guiding principle.
Your Primary Objectives
You can have more than one objective. In fact, you can have a primary objective as well as a secondary objective.
For example, if your purpose is evangelism:
• Make sure the gospel message is clear and strong
• Give your pastor time during the program to say a few words
• Invite people forward for prayer or to make a salvation decision
Or your primary objective could be to provide an entertaining experience that connects with unbelievers and guests. If so:
• Communicate your intent beforehand so your congregation won’t be disappointed when a strong call to salvation isn’t made.
• Organize a fellowship after the program to connect with visitors.
• Give visitors a small gift as a way of building a deeper connection.
A great example of a secondary objective would be ‘to encourage teamwork and relationship building among members.’
Because the more people you get involved as volunteers, the more your church members will build relationships and feel part of the team. That will pay dividends for years.
Begin with the end in mind. Decide why you’re producing this program and what you and your pastor hope to see happen. Then work to make it happen.
Searching for a church Christmas play can be overwhelming. We hope these five tips will help you find the perfect Christmas play for your church this year.