This is a guest post from Paul Fleming, former pastor and president of ChurchINK.com.
Sparkling lights. Wonderful smiles. Familiar smells. Family traditions.
These are some of the things we think of when the Christmas season rolls around. But, for those of us who work for churches, we also think of the great opportunity to share the gospel with our community. Unfortunately, we also think of all the stress that comes along with preparing our Christmas services.
How can we pull off Christmas services, and maximize our outreach opportunity, while avoiding burnout and excessive stress?
One way is to equip your church to get the word out.
Myth: Promotion is up to the staff
This myth doesn’t just show up at big events like Christmas, it’s prevalent throughout the year in most churches. The misconception is that since a few people get paid (or have volunteer roles) to promote and communicate the Christmas services, it must be all up to them to make it successful.
While it’s true that every event requires leadership and direction, the reality is that your church will be most effective at promoting Christmas services when your church members are equipped and engaged.
If 3 staff members talk it up every weekend, it will only get limited exposure. But, if 300 members talk it up every day, the entire community is certainly going to know about it.
So, how can we effectively equip and engage our members to invite their friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family members to your Christmas service? Here are 3 easy ways:
1. Make the ask
Often we assume that our members are inviting others to our services, but we’ve never actually made it clear that we’d like them to do it. Let’s make sure we have a plan for specifically and directly asking our members to invite their network of acquaintances to the services.
More importantly, let’s make sure that when we ask them to get involved that we’re clear about WHY that’s so important. Don’t just give them a task, give them a mission—a mission that matters. Beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, ask them to invite their friends by taking advantage of your primary community channels: from the stage, in emails, in weekly bulletins, and via your social media channels (video especially).
2. Provide the tools
Asking them to invite their friends is not enough. You’ve got to equip them with some easy-to-use tools, or it will never happen. Let your creativity run wild, but make sure you cover the basics:
Print well designed invite cards that clearly list your website, service times, and location—and distribute these cards weekly from Thanksgiving until the week of Christmas. Leverage a team of volunteers to group them in packs of 5–10 cards, and make sure people receive a pack of invite cards on their way out of the building at the end of each service leading up to Christmas. Mention them from the stage, and make sure there are plenty of cards at strategic locations in your building. You might even put a few cards on every chair in your auditorium, so they won’t be ignored.
If you have the budget, print up enough yard signs for each of your households, and distribute them to members as they exit your weekend services. Make sure the signs have very large text, and as few words as possible, such as your website URL, church name, and service times. Keep it simple and high contrast for good visibility. Instruct members to put a sign in their front yard or place of business (if local ordinance allows).
Social media images
This one is simple. Create some attractive images that are perfectly sized to be used as Facebook cover images, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, etc. Make the images very simple and easy to read, with a simple invite to your Christmas services (include times, and URL). Post these images on a special page on your website, and share that page with members, encouraging them to each update their Facebook cover images, and/or post them images on their social media timelines. Make sure you give them a good URL to post, so their friends can get all the info they need about your services.
3. Reinforce it often
You may have said it already, but chances are, you haven’t said it enough. People have amazingly selective hearing, so if you want them to invite their friends, you have to tell them over and over and over and over again. But, don’t just TELL them—communicate to them! Reinforce it verbally and visually, and in as many different contexts as possible. Here are a few ways to reinforce your call to action, but there are dozens of other ways you can reinforce the message in your church context:
Small group reminders
Remind your small group leaders to hand out invite cards in their meetings, and remind people to pray for and invite their friends.
Doors / mirrors
Most churches have glass doors into their buildings, which are very effective advertising canvasses, if used properly. Consider putting a tastefully designed reminder of your Christmas service times on every glass door, along with your URL with more info about your services. And, don’t forget the mirrors in your restrooms. These are great spots to place a strategically placed reminder to pick up invite cards. Be creative.
This is obvious, but make sure you trim down all the other noise in your emails/bulletin announcements from Thanksgiving until Christmas, so that the most important message gets heard: “INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO CHRISTMAS.”
Don’t succumb to the myth that Christmas services are all up to you. It’s a collective effort between the leaders of the church and the members of the church. When you equip them and inspire them to engage their sphere of influence, it’s amazing what can happen!
For more ideas on planning your Christmas service, including a valuable Christmas planning checklist, download the free Christmas Promotion Guide from ChurchINK.com here.
And to get beautiful church media for the Christmas season, start a free trial of Proclaim. You’ll get over 14,000 graphics, including Christmas-themed designs, not to mention high-powered presentation software designed just for churches.
About Paul Fleming, president of ChurchINK.com
In 2005, Paul launched a church in Portland and served as Lead Pastor for 6 years. He then went on to lead the communications team at one of the largest churches in Dallas, with Christmas attendances exceeding 30,000 people at multiple campuses. His organization ChurchINK now serves more than 1,000 churches nationwide, helping them with their communication challenges.