Practical Guidelines for a Peaceful Christmas Program

Do you hear what I hear? The sounds of Christmas are all around us. And with those sounds, we know your thoughts are focused on Christmas productions. We also know the pressure to put on THE perfect production can turn a time of celebration into a time of panic. But it doesn’t need to.

As you work tirelessly to put on a production that embraces and invites your congregation and community to experience the true spirit of Christmas, we’re here to provide practical tips to help navigate last minute details for your Christmas production. Here are three guidelines that help you operate in a spirit of peace and joy.

Be an efficient and effective leader.

Preparation

Few things can build a team’s respect like being prepared throughout every step of your production organization. Likewise, there are few things that can be done to overcome a lack of preparation and planning. Walk through rehearsals in your mind before you meet and plan for “what if” scenarios. For example, “What do I do if the lead can’t hit the high parts of his or her song?” Plan your practices and rehearsals out to five-minute increments, and stick to the schedule.

Expectations

Begin practice on time and end on time (this shows respect for those who are prepared and honors participants’ commitments by not running late). For the most part, people tend to do what’s expected of them. If you’re clear from the beginning what your expectations are, it can eliminate conflict later. Start strong; it’s difficult to play catch up late if you get off to a poor start.

Difficult Topics

If one of your volunteers is having trouble with a part or you feel that there is a performance issue, be gentle but direct. Remember, “praise in public, correct in private.” When utilizing young performers, it’s important to keep their parents involved throughout the entire process. Have parents attend the informational meetings and make sure they receive copies of rehearsal schedules and volunteer expectations. If there becomes an issue with a younger performer, it’s always best to include the parent in any discussion.

When choosing a program, select one that matches both your experience and your congregation’s abilities.

It’s imperative to be honest with yourself regarding your abilities and experience in choosing the right Christmas production. If you have been a music director for all of six months and have a choir of five, this is not the year to perform Handel’s Messiah. This means your team needs a realistic view of their skills and time to dedicate towards practice. As the director, it is your job to coach and encourage your team to perform at their best.

Enjoy the Christmas season by picking a production that is moving yet accessible. If you are a smaller congregation look for simpler productions, focus on the story from the perspective of a disciple or character. These can be incredibly moving without requiring the high-budget, high-commitment aspects of larger and more ornate productions. When selecting your program, congregational tastes and your experience isn’t your only limiting factor. It takes a cohesive team of passionate volunteers to pull off a successful Christmas program and all teams have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to step back and take an objective inventory of your team’s abilities.

Keep things legal.

As a pastor, worship leader, or creative arts director, you probably know the feeling of scrambling at the 11th hour trying to obtain copyright clearances for rehearsal copies, CD, MP3s, DVD videos, and custom arrangements. You may have found it difficult, if not impossible, to get clearances prior to your production and may have even faced denials, extremely high royalty rates, or even infringement fines. It’s important to utilize the many church blanket licenses to simplify the licensing process. Download the Blanket License Fact Sheet to learn more details about what the various blanket licenses cover.

About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration, and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.