Christmas and Christmas Eve services are just like any other services in that there are some things you should do and some things you shouldn’t do if you want to connect with the public. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that make Christmas Eve more powerful.
- When planning the services be keenly aware that there will be unchurched people in your worship services. When it comes to reaching unchurched people, Christmas Eve is far more productive than Easter. More people attend on Christmas Eve who might return than on Easter. People still attend Easter out of habit or because they are home and Grandma wants everyone to go to church. So when planning the services be sure the words you use can be understood by people who don’t attend church. And if it fits your theology, give some form of informal invitation to consider Jesus.
- Always make sure that what they see on Christmas Eve is similar to what they will see if they return the next Sunday other than the music won’t be Christmas music. That means always have a message. Never use Lessons and Carols. Christmas Eve is one of the sure times you have a chance to share the Good News; don’t let it pass. Give them your best message (sermon) that night, in all services, even those designed for Children. For the children’s message you might want to use props. I used a couple of puppets to share the message. And make sure if you have a contemporary service on Sunday you have one on Christmas Eve night at either 7:00 or 9:00.
- Always have your best greeters and Information Booth people at their posts to welcome the guests. And have something to stick in their hands.
- Always make the register of attendance a big deal. Spend enough time on it that people actually have the time to register before you move on to something else.
- Make sure you have a planned quick follow up to the guests the day after Christmas. When I was pasturing we planned a big Christmas day dinner for our singles who couldn’t go home and after the dinner they delivered a Christmas pie to all our first time Christmas Eve guests (I wouldn’t deliver any food product anymore because of people’s fear of not knowing who made it). One sure way to create the “Wow” factor is to send all the first time guests a Fed Ex package including a CD with a brief welcome from the pastor.
- Christmas is a good time to send direct mail to the homes around the church. Our youth started hand addressing Christmas card envelopes in September and we mailed out Christmas cards that invited the area to our Christmas Eve services. And we used a first class stamp to insure they would open it just like they open any Christmas card that time of the year.
- Keep in mind that the most attended times are in the following order, 7:00, 5:00 (for children and their families), and 9:00. 11:00 is no longer the most popular time for worship on Christmas Eve. If any of these are over the 80% mark it’s time to start another service.
- If you have a traditional service, the adult choir should be present and deliver one of its best musical pieces of the year. If you have multiple traditional services on Christmas Eve the adult choir should be at all of the services and remain in the service the entire time.
- Consider asking the congregation to give most of their Christmas money to some worthy cause instead of buying presents for everyone. This practice is doable especially if you don’t have young children at home, but even then it is great training for your children to ask them to do without something at Christmas so someone else can have something basic to life. My wife and I quit giving presents to each other and instead gave the same amount to a worthy cause. And guess what- we eliminated the pushing and shoving that goes on at Christmas in the malls. It was actually wonderful!
Christmas Eve can be a powerful time is you simply follow these tips.