TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Deacon Bill Necessary said he expects to see hundreds of people attending Christmas Eve and Christmas church services this year.
"There's always been a strong churchgoing population and I think all the churches that have Christmas Eve services or masses will be filled tonight," Necessary said.
He said this is the perfect time to teach children about the true meaning of Christmas.
"You know with little kids especially you can teach them; of course, celebrate Christmas however you do you know with Santa Clause and so forth but then say most importantly there would not be a Santa Clause if not for the birthday of Jesus," he said.
While Christmas remains as popular as it has been in past years, a Pew Research study suggests that most Americans believe the religious elements of the holiday are emphasized less than in the past.
"For whatever reason people have left their church and I've read the same research and the greatest number of people now declare no religion as their religion and that is a reality. However, we can use the opportunity of Christmas to bring people back hopefully," he said.
While Deacon Necessary agrees that some people only attend church during the holidays; he said this is an opportunity to educate those who are uncertain of their beliefs.
"This is an ample time to evangelize tonight because people will be here with their relatives and it's time for us to come out and say we want you back in the family. You're part of us; we want to see you every week. You're our brothers and our sisters and you have a place here and that's what we want you to know is you have a place here with us," he said.
He said despite the research many people remain faithful to their religion.
"Despite whatever happens to us throughout the year in our lives there's hope because the story of Christmas is the story of hope coming into the world," he said.