Updated: Aug 2
Here are TWO things I know about your church at Christmas:
Church people are more likely to invite their friends
Unchurched people are more likely to attend
Great leaders know how to leverage this kind of momentum. They know how to take advantage of Christmas as a unique opportunity to reach new people.
However, for most churches, the issue is less about attracting new people to attend a Christmas service and more about getting them to come back again in January.
For most churches, the issue is less about attracting new people to attend a Christmas service and more about getting them to come back again in January.
Here are FIVE ideas that might help them to return and help you make a lasting impact this Yuletide season.
1. Make it a FREE ticketed event using Eventbrite
There are so many advantages of using an internationally known ticketing service like Eventbrite for your Christmas services. (Bonus: it’s free to use!)
People know it and have probably used it before
It encourages people to register ahead of time
Being ‘sold out’ presses people to invite their friends early so as they can get their preferred service times.
Guests are more likely to attend if they have an actual ‘ticket’ (& it helps those doing the inviting to get a concrete ‘yes’ from a friend.)
You get the contact information for everyone who registers (which helps with your follow up plan.)
2. Schedule more than one Christmas service this year
At Christmas churches often report twice or even three time the usual number of attendees. There are THREE very good reasons for adding extra services.
More services options means more attendees (People are often super busy around Christmas so a morning, afternoon & evening option gives people a better chance of attending)
More services means more ‘bang for your buck’ (even if you don’t fill every seat, these extra services create a greater opportunity for your team perform. After all, they’ve invested lots of time & energy rehearsing & producing a quality event.)
More services means more opportunities to serve (You’ll never pull off a great Christmas without an amazing team of servant hearted volunteers. You’ll need people who will greet, perform, run refreshments and host kids events. Extra services means volunteers can attend one and serve at one.)
3. Make the ‘win’ that new people come back in January
What if the definition of success for your Christmas service wasn’t the numbers who attend in December but how many come back in January? There are FOUR ways you can encourage people to return again in the new year.
Get their email (Its tough to follow up if you haven’t got their contact details. Maybe offer a Christmas gift, like a branded mug, in exchange for their email address.)
Create an unmissable & intriguing January teaching series that addresses a question people are asking (If the main goal is to get them to return in January you must focus all your notices & announcements at Christmas towards that end. Even produce flyers and a quality video trailer for the series)
Email them the day after the service - but don’t ask them for anything. (Thank them for coming, include some video reminders from yesterdays service, offer them ‘grandmas best ever mince pie recipe’, and link them to some other social media Christmas treats. Then follow up with a second email a few days later with an invitation to the January teaching series)
Offer a huge incentive for people to attend again in January (One church I know always does ‘Free T-Shirt Sunday’ in January. Volunteers wear these t-shirts during the Christmas services & the hosts tells everyone they can get one for free if they come back in January.)
4. Be obsessed with your digital front door
Too many churches are passé about their front door when they should be obsessed with it - especially at Christmas. Here are THREE ways you can create some Christmas digital curb appeal
Give fresh eyes to your current website & social media footprint (The vast majority of people will visit your church website & Instagram feed before they ever turn up for a service. Have you honestly assessed your church digital footprint through the eyes of a guest? Because if you don’t value your digital spaces highly enough then don’t expect guests to show up in your building at Christmas)
Reskin your website landing page in December to be all about Christmas (Make sure it contains all the information about location, service times, parking, booking tickets, kids & teens offerings as well as a feel of what people can expect. Always link to this page from all your social media & other listings)
Leverage Facebook Events (This is a huge audience. And you can easily focus your promotion to a local radius. You’d be crazy NOT to promote your Christmas services on this platform.)
5. Be generous to your volunteers
You’ll never pull Christmas off without an army of amazing volunteers. Never forget you are asking them to serve away from their families at their busiest time of year. So show them you are really grateful (and just maybe they will continue serving into the new year.) Here are FOUR ways you could show how much you value their commitment this Christmas.
Buy them a simple Christmas gift (and make sure it is wrapped in Christmas paper with a red bow, a name tag and a personal message inside.
Print some volunteer exclusive t-shirts (roll them, surround them with a some Christmas string and include a personal message to each person)
Invite them to Christmas dinner (create some time between services to invite everyone who is serving to eat turkey & all the trimmings with the team)
Create a ‘sweet & personal’ Christmas gift for all your volunteers - (I've done the research for you. Click here for a great idea.)
Christmas is the FA Cup final of your church calendar. How are you planning to leverage this unique annual opportunity to reach unchurched people in your community and get them to return again in January?
Let me know in the comments. I’d love to steal some your ideas…
Duncan is the Director of the Further Faster Network and has spent his working life creating churches that unchurched people love to be part of...now he spends his time helping other leaders like you do the same.