From Humble Beginnings: The Impact of Christmas at Birchman in Fort Worth
Christmas at Birchman 2018, involving hundreds of volunteers and impacting thousands of people, many of whom discovered the true meaning of Christmas by committing their lives to Christ, is now in the history books. This ministry began small and obscure eighteen years ago, yet the vision accompanying the project was large and expansive. We followed the old adage “you must crawl before you walk,” and crawl we did.
For the first few years we had only one performance on Sunday night and by today’s standards it was very simple. As the crowds grew and the worship center became packed, we made the decision to expand to another night. The great question at that point was when to have it. The most natural time seemed to be a Saturday night, however, after much discussion that was rejected, and Monday night was chosen. The rationale was that people who saw the program on Sunday night and were blessed, would go to their jobs Monday and invite their friends to go with them that night. Also, other churches had Sunday night programs which prohibited some from coming. The Monday night extension was a fruitful one.
Each year the program grew a little more complex. The crowds also increased, requiring us to turn people away for lack of space. The decision was made to have an additional performance on Tuesday night. When those performances filled up, a new challenge was created. Should the number of presentations be capped, or should another venue be opened? The volunteers were already making a great sacrifice of time, particularly those with young, school-age children.
After much prayer, it was decided a Sunday matinee would be added to the schedule. The first year that we offered a matinee performance, there was an overflowing crowd and the other nights continued to be full as well. Most recently, the program was extended to include a Wednesday night performance, totaling now to five performances.
From the outset of the ministry it was determined there would be no admission charge but that a freewill offering would be taken. An admission fee would prohibit some from coming and hearing the gospel message embedded in the program. God has provided the need even as the ministry has grown.
Christmas at Birchman is much more than a music ministry; it is a church-wide event. There are hundreds of people working together to make this possible: choir, orchestra, set builders, painters, production people, audio, video, lights, stage handlers, parking attendants, ushers, greeters, youth, children, food services, nursery helpers, and custodial workers. Each volunteer using their unique gifts and talents for our Lord.
From humble beginnings to a ministry that impacts tens of thousands, Christmas at Birchman has become a family Christmas tradition in scores of households throughout the city. We celebrate Christ at Christmas at Birchman because He is the reason for the season.
Bob Pearle is the Senior Pastor of Birchman Baptist Church and a prominent figure in the Southern Baptist Convention.