12 Tips for making this Christmas Eve your biggest attendance day of 2023.

Remember the words of the angel announcing the very first Christmas, “I bring you good news of great joy for all the people.

1. Give people tools to invite their friends and neighbors.

A lot of the guests at Christmas services will be there because someone invited them, so it’s a great time to encourage your people to make the extra effort to invite their friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. Provide your people with tools that include both digital and printed invitations with information about the upcoming Christmas activities and services.

2. Preach a December message series.

A message series encourages people to come back each week. Most Disciples pastors traditionally do an Advent series in December. You can still do a series on Hope, Faith Joy, Peace culminating with the Love of Christ on Christmas Eve. You could call the series, “The 5 Golden Rings of Christmas”. I would shy away from the term ‘Advent’ which hasn’t any meaning for the unchurched person you are trying to reach.

In a previous “Countdown to Christmas, (btw that would be a another good message series title) I did five messages called “Christmas at the Movies”. It was a great way to appeal to unchurched people and church members alike. Showing clips from Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life to help bring to life, the themes of hope, faith, joy, peace, and love. On most December series, we would line the platform with poinsettia plants. During this particular “Christmas at the Movies” series, we placed those potted poinsettias in popcorn tubs we got from our local movie theatre. The smell of popped popcorn filled the lobby and all who entered were treated to a free bag.   

3. Get the word out

Update your webpage and to improve search engine optimization (SEO) it’s important to incorporate relevant keywords like church, Christmas, your address that potential visitors might use when searching online. When potential guests Google (Christmas services near me) looking for a  you’re a service to attend your church will pop up on the list. Use e-mail, Direct Messages, Twitter and Instagram blasts to generate a buzz with people, promoting your Christmas series and activities that culminate on Christmas Eve.  When you post invitations online weekly about your upcoming message in the series, be sure to remind your people to “like, comment, and share” the message with their online communities. “A Community Christmas Eve Service” is a good name for your December 24th service, letting everyone know they are welcome at your church.  

4. Post an upbeat video to Facebook and Instagram.

Each week record a reel, an under one minute, vertical video on your mobile device. Speak directly to non-Christians about the benefits they can experience by visiting your church this Christmas season. (Here is an example of the difference between a promoting a feature and a benefit. A feature of your church may be “ we have a great choir”. A benefit to the guest would sound more like this, “you will experience awe inspiring music”. Upload your reel to social media and ask people to “ follow, like, comment, and share. 

5. Use your Christmas kids’ programming as an open door for new families to get involved.

Remember being in the Christmas play when you were a kid? I don’t remember the quality of our productions, but I do remember having fun. I also remember new kids (or kids we hadn’t seen all year) showing up.  Think through what kind of experience you can offer children. It doesn’t matter what parents think about the service if the kids have a lousy time. Have a special video for kids to watch at children’s church or if they remain in the Worship Center with their parents, have a short “time for kids” and show a kid-friendly video that explains the real meaning of Christmas.  

6. Tis the season for Christmas Caroling.

Gather some folks who love to sing and go out into the community and meet people you don’t know—don’t just visit people from your congregation. Make it a genuine outreach project by caroling at the mall or at the movie theatre before showtimes and hand out invitationsyou’re your Christmas eve services at the same time.  

7. Invest in yard signs.  

Purchase yard signs (like the signs politicians use) and place them at strategic intersections. If you do them, keep the text on the sign to three lines max, or people will not be able to read it. Use the signs to promote Christmas eve services and you’ll be able to reuse the signs in coming years.

8. Have a Photo Booth in your lobby.

Create a beautiful background setting. Have a photographer on hand to take a portrait photo of the families. Gather contact information from your newcomers and inform them that there will be a free framed 5×7 copy of the family photo with their name on it at the Welcome Center the Sunday after Christmas. Post your members photos on social media and ask them to share their photos with their contacts.

To help you set up an amazing Christmas photo-op, check out the free Christmas Photo Backdrop Guide from Life.Church Open Network 


9. Be ready for extra people.

You want to make a great first impression on guests every week, but it’s particularly important at Christmas. You can’t control how many guests you’ll get for special days, but you can control how well you prepare for them. Enlist more greeters and prepare them to engage guests and provide a warm welcome as people arrive. Set up an information table with basic information about the church. Make it easy to find parking, restrooms, and childcare. Christmas is about giving gifts, so be sure to provide a nice gift to the guests you who are joining you for the first time and who fill out a contact card. Sometimes I would offer a great door prize that for a chance to win, people would have to fill out their contact card with basic information. I would use the info gathered to follow up. Another way to gather follow up information is to announce that if your first time guest will fill out their contact card, the church will make $5 donation to a local beloved charity.    

10. Follow up with your guests.

Have DM’s and emails ready to send out on the day after Christmas, welcoming the guests who gave you their contact info. Invite everyone to your next sermon series and tell them how they may possibly connect with an upcoming newcomer’s get together; I called mine, “Pizza with the Pastor”.  If you have a larger than normal crowd on Christmas Eve, that’s great, but it’s not the end of the story, it’s just the beginning. How we follow up with guests makes a big difference in whether they’ll come back and eventually get more involved in our congregations. 

11. Promote your next sermon series and other coming activities during Christmas Eve services.

Have you ever noticed how the broadcast networks relentlessly promote their other shows during big television events? It’s because they know they have a “captive” audience. People who are visiting your church for the first time will be more likely to come back if you get their attention. Give your January sermon series an interesting title focused on a need meeting topic, and preview it during Christmas Eve announcements. Don’t settle with having a big Christmas Eve service, the goal is to bring them back for what’s next. Remember, Christmas Eve is your prime-time big event.  

12. Offer Christmas Eve services at times people want to attend.  

For most people and especially unchurched Christians, a Christmas Eve service at a church is something they may do in addition to what they already have planned. They decide if they can squeeze in a service between many other holiday activities and showing up to Grandma’s house to open presents, that means the earlier the better. We found that the best attended Christmas Eve service of the three we offered was at 3pm, then 4:30 and then 6pm. This year offers up a special challenge in that December 24th falls on a Sunday. How many services and at what times are you going to be bringing “good news of great joy on Christmas eve?

Like the angel who powerfully announced the very first Christmas ,“I bring you good news of great joy for all the people.” It is now up to you, the church, to communicate that same good news with great joy, so BRING IT!