In 2003, David Loftis, then music pastor at The Shepherd’s Church (formerly Colonial Baptist Church), introduced a dessert-theatre extravaganza called Christmas Sweet. Tickets entitled you to a seat at a round table, where desserts and beverages were ordered and brought to you by students who sang in the choir (which appropriately came to be called the “Singing Waiters”). Drama sets, lighting, and Christmas decorations turned the church’s gym into a festive theatre, where ensembles and choirs sang, and Shepherd’s renowned orchestra performed. Light-hearted stories and songs were followed with a musical and dramatic retelling of the birth of Jesus, and a presentation of the Gospel gave opportunity for people to turn to Christ.
Christmas Sweet was a huge success and quickly became a tradition. Word spread through the community. Performances were added. Tickets sold out quicker each year than the last. Church members caught on to the idea that Christmas Sweet was a great way to do something nice for friends, neighbors, and coworkers, and began buying entire tables as a way to open up spiritual conversations with others.
Though leadership has changed since then, and elements have come and gone, the heartbeat of Christmas Sweet continues. It is the largest evangelistic event hosted by The Shepherd’s Church, and something the music ministry at Shepherd’s looks forward to presenting each year. Yes, some things are always different. New story lines are written. Stage décor is changed. Table decorations are refreshed. New music is presented each year. But what you can always expect is a magical evening that engages every sense, and is centered around the greatest mystery in all of history—God becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ.