Churches Across America Prepare For Influx Of Holiday Christians On "Black Sunday"
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Many churches across America will set their high mark for attendance on this Sunday before Christmas. While this is an annual tradition, it does come with some interesting challenges. We spoke with Pastor Alex Stone of Hilldale Wesleyan Church about what they are doing to prepare for this Sunday… which some church leaders are calling “Black Sunday” similar to the retail industry’s “Black Friday.”
Unverified Source (US): Pastor Alex, what does Christmas Sunday mean to churches like yours?
Pastor Alex (PA): Well, Christmas Sunday is a day that we can really put on the dog. So many of our attendees this week haven’t seen the building in a year. They haven’t prayed except during a crisis. They have lost their grandma’s Bible again. So we get to reintroduce them to the Christian faith, if at least only for an hour.
US: What, if anything do you do special for those returning to church after a year off?
PA: Well, obviously you have to be careful. It is like reintroducing a rabbit to the wild. Their eyes are huge. There are new people to meet. It can be sensory overload. So we tone down the hellfire and brimstone. I have pastor friends who crank it up. But maybe that is why people are spending 51 weeks each year away from church. Making sure the coffee is brewed well is especially important on this day. One of the cool things is that we sing the same songs we sang the last time they were with us. So it provides a sense of consistency for them.
US: What logistical hiccups have you experienced on Christmas Sunday?
PA: Well, we actually hired a security team that normally works Black Friday events to train our ushers. That has helped a lot with the fury of people trying to find a seat. Along with that, some of our older regulars arrive to find that their pew has been commandeered by holiday Christians. So there are certainly some issues to contend with.
US: What do you look forward to the most on this Sunday?
PA: To be honest, I really enjoy the conversations. So much has happened during the year. We get to catch up. It is like I get to watch their family grow up via time-lapse photography. One snapshot each year. Also, I get to ask them to come back. Inevitably most will have had such a good time that they promise to start coming more regularly. Actually some have started attending more. A few years ago we had several families that started coming on Easter as well. So it works. And let’s not forget… the attendance on Black Sunday gets our numbers back to good for the quarter.