Christmas Eve is fast approaching. Historically, your worship service/s on that holy night will have the highest number of visitors who have limited or no church experience. Indeed, the Nones are more likely to attend your Christmas Eve service than any other service of the year.
If your church is like the vast majority of North American churches, it will completely botch Christmas Eve’s golden opportunity because:
- The typical church won’t get contact information from the visitors;
- The typical church won’t do any meaningful follow-up with the visitors;
- The typical church won’t offer a compelling reason to return on the following Sunday … or anytime in the future (except for next Christmas Eve, perhaps);
- The typical church will offer a service that is warm, fuzzy, traditional, and unremarkable – anything said or done at that service will be long forgotten before the stockings are raided on Christmas morning;
- The typical church will be “friendly,” but its hospitality levels will be on par with whatever’s offered Sunday morning … which is to say, they’ll be friends with their friends and guests will warmly tolerated with genuine smiles, handshakes, and then mostly left to their own devices.
You can capitalize on this opportunity this year … there’s still time to tweak your Christmas Eve plans.
Get Visitor Contact Information
Best Practice: Get your visitors to share their contact information by offering something in return.
- One church we know of announces that they’ll give $5 to the local food bank for each first-time visitor card that’s completely filled out and put into the offering plate.
- Another uses a valuable door prize that requires complete registration as an entry – and only guests are eligible to win the prize.
Engage in Meaningful Follow-Up
Best Practice: Follow-up on Christmas Eve immediately following the worship service.
Yes, we really do realize that there are other things to do … family traditions to keep … and it’s inconvenient – besides, the pastor’s tired and just wants to go home. We get that.
Build a bridge and get over it. This is Kingdom stuff. No one said growing your church would be easy. It’s not. Churches that are growing have leaders who are willing to work their … um, feet off to get and maintain momentum.
- One church we know of has several sets of two-by-two volunteers who dress up as Magi and drop off a wrapped gift for the family (it’s branded and is perceived as “valuable” to the recipients) within 30 minutes of the worship service’s close.
- A pastor we know treats Christmas Eve like any other Sunday service. He makes a two minute doorstop visit at each guest’s home following the service. When there are more guests than he can reasonably visit (more than four or five), then other volunteers step up to help.
Give Visitors a Reason to Return
Get more details on sermon series with this archived blog.
Best Practice: Several times during the Christmas Eve service, make a rather big deal about your new (well targeted) sermon series that either starts the following week or the first week of January.
- One pastor we know uses popular movies and community concerns to develop impactful sermon series. In addition, he has access to a graphic’s design person who develops bright, four-color invitational postcards, business cards, and brochures to advertise the series.
- Another pastor we know creates sermon series based on the felt needs of the church’s target audience (young families). In addition, she brings in local guest “experts” to speak for ten minutes on the topic (these experts are often non-Christians), and then she ties their presentation into faith-based practices on the fly.
- Another church’s staff gathers after Christmas to handwrite notecards that invite the guests to the upcoming sermon series.
Make Your Christmas Eve Service Remarkable
See this video for how to make your Christmas Eve service not only remarkable, but a permanent memory that draws new guests each year.
Best Practice: Take your creativity to such a lofty level that the service and the congregation is still dinner talk that interrupts TV for weeks to come.
- One pastor we know refuses to allow the church to do “a lesson in scripture and carols.” While the service includes traditional Christmas carols, the service as a whole is designed to communicate an important (and relevant) truth and life practice to those who attend.
- In a university town, one pastor realized there was no “kid focused” and truly “family friendly” worship service in town. So she developed a Christmas Eve service that isn’t just “friendly” for the kids, it is focused on the children.
Ratchet Up Your Hospitality
Best Practices: All hands on deck! Every member must be a gracious host that’s “on duty” prior to, during, and following the Christmas Eve worship service.
- Start with greeters in your parking lot … yes, even if it’s cold and snowy outside. Rotate these greeters every ten or fifteen minutes if necessary.
- Put your best, smilingest, friendlies, most gregarious greeters at your front door. Even if you have to rob the choir to get them there.
- Make sure your ushers are ushing … and will be instrumental at directing people to seating even after the worship service has been going fifteen minutes or more.
There’s just too much at stake … and since poor hospitality is the #1 reason first-time visitors don’t return, you need to grab a copy of the Hospitality Gold Congregational Training Kit. Twenty-Two video training sessions for your hospitality team, three seasonal hospitality training videos (including one for Christmas), and supporting materials to help ensure you put your best foot forward on Christmas Eve … and every other worship service too.