December 2019 Pastor’s Article
We are part of the more than 10 million people who jumped onto the bandwagon and subscribed to Disney+. This is a streaming video service like Netflix, except it is all focused on Disney owned content. Like many others, we have been enjoying it so far. On social media, I have noticed a trend among parents with Disney+. They are using the service to introduce some nostalgic favorites to their children. I am just as guilty. My kids have now seen the Rocketeer and it is just a matter of time before I subject them to deep cuts like Mr. Boogity.
Nostalgia is actually a driving factor for Disney+. For instance I noticed a lot of people in their late 30s to early 40s were excited to watch Duck Tails and Darkwing Duck again. Compared to other streaming services, Disney+ is currently very light on original programming. Though that does not seem to be a problem as a lot of subscribers are more than happy to have the movies and shows of their childhood available on demand. It seems that reminding people about what they loved is a good business model. This is a lesson that Christians can learn from.
Despite all of the candy cane flavors, shopping deals, and Hallmark movies, Christmas is still technically a religious holiday. For decades there has been a slow but unending push to supplant the true meaning of Christmas with a nebulous feel-good message of family and “Christmas magic.” Despite that though, the true Christmas story has nothing to do with a BB Gun and everything to do with a baby in a manager. There are a lot of attempts and noise to cover it up, but the undeniable fact is that the holiday exists to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.
American culture is often described as becoming “Post-Christian”, despite that the biggest cultural holiday continues to be one that celebrates Jesus. In a cultural landscape that pushes religious expression to the outskirts, the birth of a savior is an undeniable part of the Christmas celebration. If there is an area where people who are not currently involved in a church have positive memories or experiences with the Christian life, then there is a good chance those memories are wrapped around Christmas. In fact 62% of adults who do not regularly attend church, did grow up attending church. Just like many of you, they likely have positive memories of Christmas plays and candle lit Christmas eves. Just like Disney+ capitalizes on nostalgia, there are a lot of positive feelings around Christmas that make people more receptive to an invitation.
A survey by Lifeway research found that 55% of unchurched people are likely to attend if invited by a family member, and 51% of unchurched people are likely to attend if invited by a friend. More than any other time of the year, this is when the Christian faith is closer to the forefront of people’s minds. This is a time when people who have been absent from church are more likely to feel nostalgic for an “old fashioned Christmas.” This is the time, more than any other, for us to be intentional to invite people to church. I challenge you to do that this month. If we all invite just two people, there is a good chance that at least one of them shows up. The more people we invite, then the more people we have an opportunity to remind that Jesus is still the reason for the season.