How To Pastor During the Holidays… After the Loss of a Loved One

fallen tree

There are probably more in your church who’ve experienced loss than you realize. At a time of festivity, some in your congregation are struggling. “Holidays” are no holiday for them. It’s a time of pushing emotional hot buttons.

If you want to minister to a large percentage of your folks, figure out a way to convey some practical thoughts that will make an adjustment. Send an email, weekly ezine, or just build these into the end of a message…

1. When you’re with friends and relatives at Thanksgiving-Christmas and others are sharing what they’re grateful for / are celebrating, instead of focusing on your past and sense of loss, tell a funny story about them!
Close by making a toast to the memory of that person. Smile. Laugh, tears – it’ll be okay.

2. Don’t be afraid to make changes to long-standing traditions. Keep a couple of them, then try on a few more to see how they fit. Repeat next year.

3. Realize there is a difference between “Celebrating” and “observing.”

4. Find a better focus.
Here’s the biggest adjustment you can make to fight a negative focus – do something aimed beyond yourself. Reach out to the Needy for example. If you need an idea, go to an inner-city soup mission and serve in a practical way. “Soup ladling therapy.” Maybe buy a few dozen donuts and give them out to those who have to work on Christmas Eve / Day. Tell them this is a simple way to bring the amazing love of Jesus who is madly in love with them. If you are chicken to go by yourself, ask a few friends until someone agrees to come along.

Bless those you touch with a 10-second prayer. They’ll probably say yes.

Steve has spoken, mentored and modeled to churches and leaders around the world with the simple message that anyone – regardless of their gifting or experience – can be involved in bringing God’s loving kindness to others. His first book, Conspiracy of Kindness has been translated into several languages with more in the works. His first book has sold over 300,000 copies. Altogether his books have sold over 500,000 copies.


  1. Timely and wise. Thank you for sharing this.

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