Around the country, Christians and traditionalists are pushing for retailers to use the word “Christmas” rather than euphemisms like “Holidays” or “Winter Season”. Under pressure from conservative Christian groups, retailers like K- Mart, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Sears, Target, and Macy’s have all reversed earlier policies of secularizing their Christmas displays, and have returned to referring to “Christmas.”
One pastor in Kansas City, however, believes that the real threat to Christmas doesn’t come from secular stores using the wrong words. The danger to Christmas comes from the fact that the church itself is missing from its central position in the holiday. Christmas has become a celebration for the family, not a celebration within, around and about the church that Christ built. Reverend Larry McKain says “Much of the power and majesty of the Christmas celebration is lost in well-meaning clichés about family love and Hallmark stories of emotional bonding. We love the family, too – but Christmas is a spiritual event, not a family tradition. When we lock Christmas into our houses and out of our churches, we remove its ability to impact lost souls for Christ.”
Reverend McKain points to the widespread phenomenon from 2005 of churches canceling some Christmas celebrations because they would fall on a Sunday – getting in the way of family activities on that day. The largest megachurches in America actually shut down after their Christmas Eve services, citing the need to be “family-friendly” and “lifestyle-friendly” for their parishioners. New Church Specialties, Reverend McCain’s ministry that specializes in training church leaders, believes that this represents a serious peril for Christians and for the church.
Reverend McKain: “The Bible doesn’t show us a form of Christianity in which individual Christians love Jesus outside of a church family. The church isn’t a building; it is, literally, Christ’s body on earth. We cannot love Jesus without loving the church that he died for. Christ did not come to earth to suffer and die just for individual believers; he came for the sake of his beloved Bride, the church to which he gave everything.”
NCS is committed to helping believers recapture the love and passion for the church that Christ felt, at Christmas and all through the year. Jesus advised us that we were to seek to be like him in all things – and that includes loving the church. We don’t love the church for its grace and wonder; we love it because Jesus loves it. Reverend McKain adds, “We all have a burning need for the Holy Spirit to rekindle in us the love for the church that Christ felt. We need that every day – and Christmas Day most of all.”
To revitalize this idea of a church community that is in genuine love with the church itself, NCS is launching the “LOVE THE CHURCH!” campaign. Rev. Larry McKain has written a book, “Falling in Love with the Church”, a 280 page how-to guide to lead church members and leaders in building harmony, love and health back into the church. NCS is offering a FREE COPY of “Falling in Love with the Church” to anyone who is considering the possibility of leaving the church, or to anyone who knows someone who is considering leaving. To get a free copy of “Falling in Love with the Church”, contact NCS at 317.881.3693 or visit the website at www.lovethechurch.net.
In addition, NCS has launched a weekly electronic devotional newsletter called “LOVE THE CHURCH” to encourage all believers in the joyful task of loving the church and loving one another. This e-devotional offers insights from scripture to help Christians understand why we’re called to love the church as Christ loved her – even when the church is behaving badly! It offers helpful advice and sound counsel on building a relationship with the church that will last a lifetime – through good as well as bad times.
Christians who are thinking of leaving their church aren’t stepping off a bus – they’re stepping off a cliff, and NCS wants to make sure they know there’s a better way – a way that NCS will be glad to show concerned Christians through this free book and e- devotional offer.
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