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A Texas megachurch’s opulent Christmas program is facing some criticism after a TikTok of its annual Christmas program went viral. TikToker lawsonmaee posted a video of the service, with the caption “When you’re new to Texas and didn’t realize just how hard Texas megachurches go at Christmastime.” Prestonwood Baptist Church of Plano has hosted its annual Christmas program for 25 years. This year’s show, called “The Gift of Christmas,” boasted over 1,000 performers, live animals including sheep and camels, fog machines, and so much more. Tickets to see the show could run anywhere from $19 to $69. Comments on the video included speculations on whether or not the church was spending funds appropriately. “Do they pass the money bowl around before after or during this ???” asked one commentor. 

The Dallas Observer’s Danny Gallagher criticized the show as “over-the-top.” “‘Over the top’ is usually just an expression, but in this case, it’s an accurate description. Some of the performers literally go over the top of the heads of the people in the audience. ‘The Gift of Christmas’ tells the familiar story of the birth of Jesus, but in ways that the actual Jesus never had the budget to pull off in his lifetime.” Prestonwood has responded to the criticisms, noting that the event is ticketed for those wondering about how the church manages expenses. “The Gift of Christmas is a ticketed Christian production, not a church service, and a long beloved Christian tradition celebrated by the many hundreds-of-thousands in our community and surrounding states who have attended for more than 25 years,” they said in a statement. They went on to say that Jesus “deserves our absolute best.” “Prestonwood Baptist Church is not ashamed to pull out all the stops in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ during the Christmas season. At Prestonwood, we believe Jesus deserves our absolute best, especially during Christmas. It’s unfortunate that the perennial American tradition of the church Christmas program now draws criticism. We pray that they, too, may come to know the joy of Christmas and the love of our Savior.”

Another Texas church received equal criticism for its extravagant Christmas pageant. Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston area had an equally impressive display that featured a live elephant. “Nothing like a church spending thousands of dollars on their theatrical productions instead of helping families in need during the holiday season,” said one TikToker on a video of the production. Both Champion and Prestonwood are linked by more than their Christmas productions; the senior pastor at Champion, Jarrett Stephens, worked for 20 years in a preaching position at Prestonwood before coming to Champion in 2021. Prestonwood faced criticism for its program last year as well, with people noting its flying drummer angels. Considering the pageant is in the news again, it doesn’t seem the church will be fazed out of its extravagant Christmas productions any times soon. 

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