Christmas day lands on a Sunday this year. I have noticed that fact has stirred up some debates online among Christians about whether or not it is acceptable for a church to not schedule a “worship service” on Christmas Day.
One of the pastors in our region took to social media in a rather aggressive fashion, basically accusing any churches of not holding a full-fledged worship service (or services) at their routine time(s) as compromising their faith and being disobedient to the Lord, and any church members not attending of being the same: compromising and disobedient. At first I started to respond to his public social media but then I noticed plenty of Scripturally-informed believers had already done so. Unfortunately, the pastor just dug himself in even stronger and would dismiss them without any reasoned response.
Another pastor in our region took a much less aggressive approach, addressing his congregation rather than the public at large, but still telling them that going to church on Christmas Sunday morning was something that Christians needed to do.
In a day and age in which there is far too much compromise in the churches and among Christians it is easy to fall prey to this line of thinking (regardless of the degree of intensity of the messenger).
But in an effort to be faithful to the Lord and not compromise or be disobedient, we must also be careful to make sure we are being SCRIPTURAL, something the afore-mentioned pastors failed to do.
Is it wrong for a Christian to choose to spend Christmas day with their family rather than “go to church” that morning? Is it wrong for a church to not offer a worship service on Christmas Sunday morning, but have it on Christmas Eve instead?
Answers? No, and no.
And here’s why: nowhere in the Bible are Christians commanded to gather together on Sunday.
Yes, the Scripture commands us to meet together regularly (see Hebrews 10.25, for example). But no where does Scripture say it has to be on Sunday. In fact, the Scripture commands us not to let other judge us on this topic (see Colossians 2.16).
It’s true that Bible gives examples of the early Christians gathering on the first day of the week (Sunday). But that’s description, not prescription. Another way of saying it is that is an example not a command. It’s also true that throughout Christian history, Christians have overwhelmingly chosen Sunday as their primary day for gathering together to worship the Lord. But that’s simply tradition, not a command from the Bible.
And yet there are some Christians who consider it compromise if a Christian spends all of Christmas morning with their family or if a church doesn’t offer a Sunday morning gathering opportunity but only offers a Christmas Eve service this year (like our church is doing).
This is a classic example of confusing an example in the Bible or a tradition through church history with a biblical command. To say that Christians MUST go to church on the specific day of Sunday or to say that it is wrong for a church to choose to gather on Christmas Eve this year instead of Christmas Day is a form of legalism.
So, if your church chooses to have a “worship service” on Christmas morning, wonderful. Nothing wrong with that. And if you choose to go to a worship gathering on Christmas day, at your church or elsewhere, good for you. Just please don’t judge other Christians for not doing so. You have no Scriptural basis.
Here is a podcast episode from this past summer where I talk about not confusing description in Scripture with prescription, with some special emphasis to the topic of what day of the week in which churches should gather…