How Twin Cities Churches are Handling Christmas Under COVID-19

In one way or another, Christmas is looking a little different for almost everyone this year. Family gatherings are being downsized or held virtually. Parties with friends and work are being pushed back into the new year.

Meanwhile, churches are finding themselves having adapt once more to 2020’s everchanging rules and attitudes.

Christmas Eve is one of the biggest days of church attendance in the year, second only to Easter. Here in the Twin Cities, churches already had to go online-only for Easter. The laws have loosened slightly since then, allowing for religious gatherings in person as long as capacity requirements are followed.

Still, a number of churches have yet to reopen their physical doors, opting to operate online-only until we’ve made it through the pandemic. Even where churches are open, many congregants are hesitant to attend in-person services, especially right before a holiday like Christmas.

All of this has led to churches getting creative, adapting quickly, and ultimately changing the way we experience Christmas services this year.

Christmas Services in the Twin Cities

Despite limitations and concerns, churches are going above-and-beyond to provide a true Christmas experience as they focus on the reason behind this wonderful season. Live nativities have long been a popular tradition for churches to host during Christmas time. This year, many have transitioned to drive-through nativities, providing a quality experience without attendees ever having to leave their cars.

As far as Christmas pageants go, churches are leveraging today’s accessible technology to showcase performances and tell God-honoring stories while maintaining social distancing protocols. For example, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Roseville held a virtual Christmas pageant. Children recorded their parts from their own homes, and then the clips were gathered and edited together.

Though it’s certainly different, it still carries much of the charm you’d expect from a children’s pageant.

Then, of course, there are Christmas Eve services. Larger churches such as River Valley are requiring people to register online to ensure capacity limits are followed. With multiple service times across eight Twin Cities campuses, there are still plenty of chances to attend in person. River Valley will then be holding this week’s Sunday service solely online.

St. Michael’s is holding a special outdoor Christmas Eve services where people can gather across their lawn. Other churches are opting to go fully online for their Christmas Eve services as well. Substance Church is promoting live specials for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. To help add immersion, they put together a box of “goodies” which people could pick up at this past weekend’s services.

What Will Future Christmas Eve Services Look Like?

While church as a whole will almost certainly look different in a post-COVID world, it’s hard to say whether future Christmas services and activities will permanently change in the coming years. After all, Christmas is normally a time for gathering in person. Though we’ll almost certainly see continued support for online services next year, most Christmas events will likely return to more traditional setups.

We know it can be difficult to have our usual Christmas traditions disrupted, but it’s important to be thankful for the tools and opportunities we have to share the Gospel far beyond the physical walls of a church building. Just because the way we celebrate Christmas this year looks a little different doesn’t mean the reason for the season has changed.

Unto us, a child was born.
Unto us a Son is given,
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Take heart in knowing that we have a hope that transcends the sorrow and uncertainty that has plagued 2020. However you’re celebrating the holidays this year, we wish you a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

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