I think we can all agree it’s a pretty big deal.
And in the church world, it’s definitely one of the biggest deals of the year!
Besides the obvious reason (you know, the birth of the Savior who changed the game for our faith), Christmas is a big deal at church because it’s the one season where people tend to show up more regularly at church.
For some people, it’s simply a tradition. Maybe they’ve been coming with their family at Christmas for as long as they can remember so they show up again, each and every year to celebrate the season. For others, it’s an expectation. Maybe they have family who visits every year for the holiday, and they bring with them the expectation that they’ll attend church at least once while they’re here. Maybe people show up at Christmas because they have children involved in a Christmas program, and they’ve invited every last aunt, uncle, cousin, and neighbor they know to attend. Or maybe they come simply because they’re curious what all the Christmas fuss is actually all about.
Regardless of the reason why, the point is this: Christmas is a season that brings people to church. And that means it’s a great opportunity for you to not only engage your people who regularly attend, but also to reach people in the community who may have never heard of your church before now.
This season is a great time to host a series or event at your church that is centered on Christmas and designed to impact and engage the people in your congregation and community.
So let’s talk about just five things you can do to make this Christmas season a time of engagement and outreach at your church.
1) Brand your events around your community, not your church.
This is the best time of year to reframe your thinking when it comes to marketing what’s happening at your church. Instead of approaching it as church event or series, approach it as a community event or series. This makes something like participating in a Christmas pageant, showing up for a special Christmas service, coming to a Christmas concert, or taking part in a Christmas event at your church feel much less intimidating to an outsider. When it’s for the community, it feels more accessible.
So for example, if you live in a town named Milton and plan to host a Christmas concert this season, title it something like The Milton Christmas Concert rather than The First Baptist of Milton Christmas Concert. Of course you’ll be hosting it at your church and so the location will be listed on all of your marketing materials (posters, mailers, social media, emails, etc.), but they’ll see it primarily as an event for the community as a whole rather than exclusively for the church.
There are so many other community events hosted at churches—basketball leagues, weddings, graduations, school events, game nights. Why not make your Christmas event one for the community as well?
2) Experiment with multiple service times.
Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, I think variety could be the key to spicing up the Christmas season for your church and community as well. Now when I say that, I mean variety in one specific area: time. One of the best things you can do to make Christmas at your church more accessible to people is to experiment with multiple service times around the holidays.
Maybe you’ve always had a sunrise Christmas morning service, or a late night Christmas Eve service, or just one service time every single Sunday leading up to the holiday. And that’s great! But what I’d like to suggest is that doing something as simple as rethinking some of your service times this holiday season will open up the potential for more people to actually get into your church.
Think about the trends in your community. Do you have a lot of young families who maybe need to get home early and get their kids to bed? Then consider moving your Christmas Eve service to an earlier time. Do you have a lot of young teenagers or college aged students nearby? Maybe start offering a late night Christmas Eve service so they can ring in the start of Christmas together at your church. Do you find your Sunday morning services more full than usual on the weeks leading up to the holiday? Then try opening up a second service time to accommodate more visitors.
Now listen, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If what you’re doing works really well, don’t flip the script entirely at Christmas. Keep going with your traditional plans for the holiday, but maybe commit to trying just one new service time this year to see how it goes. It may be a total flop, but it also may be the key to bringing new faces into your church and changing lives going forward.
3) Try A New Approach.
The story and tradition of Christmas is sacred to the church. It’s the truth of how Christ came into the world to one day save the world. The long promised Savior was finally here!
That’s a story we never want to change! But I would suggest that you consider trying a new approach to the way you present the Christmas story this year. Think beyond what’s typical for your church. Stretch yourself. Get a little creative.
Now of course, you’re never going to mess with the true authenticity of the heart and message of Christmas. That’s what the season is about so of course you’re going to talk about it! But maybe this year, you can talk about it in a new way.
Look for different ways to present that same story. If you as the senior pastor or leader always read the Christmas story, invite some of your staff to do it this year instead. If your choir uses the same set list every season, ask your musicians to think about some new songs to sing this year, too. Invite your children to perform some of their Christmas program during a Sunday morning service. Or have your youth take over the Advent readings or acknowledgements at your church. If you tend to preach the Christmas story through a lens of salvation, maybe try adding messages of forgiveness and family into your Christmas sermon this year, too.
Think about what simple things you can introduce at your church this season to present the truth of Christmas from a new approach.
4) Give your congregation invitation tools.
The number one time people invite a friend to church? Christmas of course! So make sure you equip your congregation to do just that by providing them with invitation tools. Create a variety of invitational resources and get them into the hands of your people so that they can get them into the hands of the community.
Try creating postcards or small fliers featuring your Christmas service times. Design and share a few graphics for social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Ask your people to share them online and use a hashtag to connect people back to your Christmas events. Send out an email blast detailing all your Christmas events and services so your people can simply forward it on to their friends and family. Do what you can to give your congregation several ways to spread the word about what’s happening at your church this season.
And keep in mind: This may require some explanation on your part. You’re going to have to spell it out a little for your congregation at times. Don’t just give them the postcards, or send them the emails, or show them the social media graphics. Actually tell them what you want them to do with them. Say something like, “I would love for you to invite some family and friends to join us at church this season. So we’ve created some simple things you can share with them to invite them to be a part of what’s happening here this Christmas.” Tell them what to post, what to send, what to do with all the tools you’ve given them. Everyone knows someone they can invite; you just have to help encourage and equip them to do it!
5) Invite people back.
This last point is huge! Engaging people around Christmas doesn’t stop when the season is over. In fact, that’s only the beginning! When new people show up to a Christmas service or event at your church, don’t forget to invite them back. Take that opportunity to not only let them know you’re glad they joined you for this holiday, but that you have a lot going on in January that you’d love to see them at as well. Don’t miss the chance to engage and invite!
Whatever you have happening in the coming month at your church, make a point to offer a compelling invite to the people who join you at Christmas. Let them know they’ve been both seen and appreciated this season, and that your church always has a spot for them to come back and join in again. Don’t miss the chance to engage and invite!
You never know how this Christmas season at your church might be the beginning of a new season of faith for the people who cross your threshold this holiday.
Let’s be honest…
Coming up with ideas for a Christmas series isn’t an easy task, is it?
- What do we say that hasn’t already been said?
- How do we find new angles and approaches to engage people with the Christmas narrative?
Plus, don’t most of us feel like our congregation and guests show up feeling like they already know what we’re going to say?
That’s why we created this series, Fresh Eyes!
Each of the four sermons will focus on the Christmas story from a different character’s perspective.
Bring the Christmas story to life for your congregation, and engage guests and visitors in a life-changing way with the Fresh Eyes series!
Jump in RIGHT HERE!