Seven Ways to Lead and Motivate Your Team This Christmas

By Alison Zeller

It’s been said that a one-man band can never be an orchestra.

In the Church, it is all too easy for leaders to operate like a one-man band. But if there is ever a time to turn your church into one big orchestra, this is it - it’s the Christmas season!

Church leaders across the country are preparing for the busiest month of ministry they’ve ever seen. Every type of ministry is taking on more tasks this time of year. The Care Ministry team is making sure that all the shut-ins have rides to Christmas Eve services. The Children’s Ministry team is planning weekend rehearsals for the Christmas program. The Music Ministry team is polishing the handbells and perfecting their harmonies.

So, will each team member clamber on as a one-man band or will you come together as an orchestra to sweetly sing the Good News of Jesus’ birth to your church and community? Here are seven ways to make sure your church experiences the latter option.

  1. Set a clear vision. What will Christmas be at your church? Are you going to try new programs or stick with the time-honored traditions? Are you focusing on reaching your core members or your community? If you have an overall vision for Christmas, team members will be motivated to be a part of that vision. (Here’s an article with several points to help guide your vision.)
  2. Help build teams. Prioritize which ministry teams need the most help this season. What areas of ministry have the longest to-do lists? Help that team leader recruit more volunteers ASAP! Are some volunteers willing to shift positions for the month of December or even for one Sunday? Do you have seniors or teenagers that are being underutilized?
  3. Provide just the right amount of autonomy. Each person on your team does something well, probably very well. You can capitalize on that set of skills by giving your team members the power to make their own decisions, to build their own systems, and to achieve their own goals. Provide guidelines, trust your people, and then, let them lead!
  4. Give up (some) control. This piggybacks on autonomy, but it deserves to be said specifically: as a leader, you cannot control everything. Yes, you set the overall vision and make the big-picture decisions. But, delegation is critical during the Christmas season! Do you have to be at every single church event in December? Do you have to approve the color scheme for the bulletin? Take a hard look at the things you can let go - and trust your team take over.
  5. Don’t waste time in meetings. Gather your team for 20-minute debrief meetings each morning. Prior to the meeting, ask team members to write down three things on a sticky note (just one sticky note!) - what they accomplished yesterday, what they are working on today, and what they’re concerned about. At the debrief meeting, the only things discussed are the topics written on the sticky note. Don’t even sit down! And do not go over 20 minutes!
  6. Don’t let your team burn out. Christmas is the happiest time of the year - except for most church workers. Do what you can to encourage rest and flexibility. Allow office staff to leave an hour early on Friday to get a head start on shopping. If a team stays late for an event on Wednesday, give them a late-start on Thursday. Host midday devotions in your office. Surprise your volunteers with take-out coffee, fruit, and pastries at a meeting.
  7. Appreciate your team. Never underestimate the impact of a simple “thank you.” Make your “thank you” personal and heartfelt. Take 10 minutes each day and write a few handwritten notes, plan a moment of recognition in a meeting, or craft a meaningful appreciation message for the church bulletin. This will motivate and energize your team to make it through to December 26.


God’s richest blessings came down to us at Christmas through his only Son, Jesus. Celebrate the season. Enjoy your team. And if you need a moment of stress relief amidst all of the chaos, watch this video: What Christmas Eve is Like for Church Leaders.


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