Church Replaces Prayer Service With Santa Claus Meet And Greet To Usher In Christmas Season
Increase Church In St. Louis, Missouri always does Christmas big. They have consistently offered one of the most spectacular nativity scenes and musicals in the greater St. Louis area. This year they decided to take it up a notch by kicking off the holy season with a Santa Claus meet and greet.
Entertainment Pastor, Harris Campbell explains, “Well, you know we have always done a tremendous job of putting on big productions. But it is a very tough market at this time of year. There are a lot of things competing for the time of our audience and those who might be visitors. We had a lot of choices in terms of how to kick-off advent. In a creative teams meeting Annette asked, ‘Why don’t we bring in the big guy?’ I responded that we do that every Sunday when we invite God into our service. She came back with, ‘No… the BIG guy… you know… Santa Claus.’ It was like a strand of Christmas lights went on over our heads… sort of like tongues of fire, I suspect.”
While the entertainment team was on board, there was still one more hill to climb. “Pastor Steve is all about reaching people. But he hates gimmicks. Our plan was to have a meet and greet with Santa on the first Sunday of December. Honestly, it was as much for our cute parents as it was our cute kids. But we always have a prayer service before morning worship. Our pastor is huge on prayer. So he wasn’t excited about cancelling it to have a party with Santa Claus. One of our team member told him that we would have a huge turnout. So he relented. Think about it… our pastor was willing to remove prayer time in order to have a fantasy character time. We couldn’t believe it. It was a Christmas miracle.”
Pastor Steve says, “People are going to find fault. It sounds bad to replace prayer with Santa. And it probably is. But it will make so many people happy. And I think it is a great way to encourage people that there is someone out there who wants to bless them by giving them what they want. So Santa Claus isn’t my thing. But if we can have 200 people come through to meet Santa when there would have only been about 15 people show up to pray, I think that is a God thing.”
The Entertainment Ministry team is already negotiating a deal with the pastor to have the Easter Bunny deliver the sermon at the Sunrise Service on Resurrection Sunday.