If you’ve been a church leader for 20 minutes you know that the most likely times for unchurched people to consider attending a service are Christmas and Easter. Often those two holidays are our only opportunity to connect with people who normally steer well clear of anything that looks like a church, but I often see leaders mishandle this open door. They wait too late to create a plan, they focus simply on gathering a crowd, or they get bogged down in the details of logistics. That’s why I want so share some important tips 17 weeks before Christmas. Let’s not miss another divine moment to see people cross the line of faith and connection this year.Let’s not miss another divine moment to see people cross the line of faith and connection this year. Click To Tweet
With that in mind here are the six most important questions you need to answer in August if you want to have maximum impact in December:
Six Key Christmas Questions for August:
What is the goal of our Christmas Eve services?
Leaders often make the mistake of simply setting an attendance goal for Christmas services. There is nothing wrong with attendance goals, we all want reach more people with the good news, but the long term impact on a church and individuals of big attendance is negligible. It feels great for the leaders, not so great for the volunteers and attenders, and afterwards everyone goes back to exactly what they were doing before.
The other challenge of attendance goals alone is they skew priorities. If all you want is a big number then hire a circus and be done with it. What is the real goal? Do you want to see changed lives? Do you want to see a percentage of your attenders invite their friends? Do you want to see a percentage of people who attend for the first time come back? Set those targets now, so everything you do going forward is focused on the real goals.
Who is our target?
Who are you hoping will show up for your Christmas services? Are you focused on people who never go to church? People who only come on Christmas and Easter? A specific demographic in your community? Often churches simply aim at everyone, which is like archery without a target; there is no way to know if you’re effective.Often churches simply aim at everyone, which is like archery without a target; there is no way to know if you’re effective. Click To Tweet
Choosing a target now will inform you decisions on what venues you offer, what your service will look like and how the Gospel message will be communicated. If you are aiming at young families new to the community your Christmas service will look very different than a target of single Millennials who never attend church.
What services and service times will we offer?
Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, which presents a unique challenge; do you do your normal weekend services on Sunday and then do completely different services on Christmas Eve (Monday)? Do you do the same service on Sunday and Monday? Do you skip Sunday and just do Monday? These are questions to wrestle now so all the teams can prepare.
So what’s the right answer? It goes back to your goals and your target; when are the people you hope to reach most likely to come to a Christmas service? My preference would be different services on Sunday and Monday so people can invited their friends to come with them on Christmas Eve without having to sit through the same service twice. On Christmas Eve I’d do one service at 5 pm or two services at 4 pm and 6 pm. For churches who do three or more Christmas Eve services you likely know the most effective times to offer services.
In Part 2 of this series we will tackle the other three crucial questions you need to answer now, but you have enough now to get started. Ring those golden bells, light the Christmas tree and get going!
Navigating this new chapter in church history will require balancing the tension between what is necessary from the past and what is needed for future. I’ve spent the last several years thinking about and researching this challenge, and share my insights in my new eBook, The Church Will Thrive. You can get your free copy here.