There’s not much time left before Christmas, but there might be just enough time to add in some or all of these ideas to help your Christmas Eve visitors be more likely to connect with your church after the holiday season. So, let’s get right to it!
1) Surprise visitors: Inspire them with your church’s vision.
Most people know exactly what to expect at a Christmas service, even people who don’t attend church regularly. It’s going to talk about baby Jesus. There will be familiar songs. Something cute or funny. More recently, it might involve a Broadway-level production and just as many of the songs from the radio as classics.
Giving people what they expect isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but your church exists with the vision it has because Christ came to Earth. This time of year should celebrate the mission of Jesus — healing the brokenhearted and setting captives free. How can you show your church’s focus on Jesus’ mission? How can you demonstrate the passion of your vision?
If people in your city who never attend church show up at your Christmas Eve service, make sure they feel how your church is alive and focused on the well-being and care of your city. Even non-Christians want the best for their city. It’s not a time for fighting the “Keep Christ in Christmas” battle. That’s unfortunately what people expect from the Church at Christmas. Show them instead how your church is unique in its approach to reaching the people around you.
2) Give them a reason to follow you on social media during the service. (And have a killer plan for what you’re going to share on social media in January.)
You could stage a tacky Christmas sweater photo booth for fun family portraits in the lobby before the service. Let parents know you’ll upload all the images from the evening, including their family photo, to your Facebook page or Instagram account after the service so they can download it. Or, you could hold a real-time contest that gives audience members a dedicated moment to follow your Twitter account or “like” your Facebook page during the service for a chance to win a prize, with winners selected at the end of the service from the pool of new followers.
Whatever you decide, post signs around the church that clearly showcase your social media account handles and any relevant hashtags. Use your big screens to highlight your accounts and scroll through images using the evening’s hashtag.
Social media can help you create a lasting touch point with people who have only stepped through your doors once. Give them a reason to follow while you have their attention, and then plan excellent, compelling social media content to engage them in the following weeks.
3) Get children excited about coming back.
What elements of your Christmas Eve service would surprise and delight a child? Anything? If not, you have about two days to brainstorm something to add. Few parents (even ones who have walked away from their faith) are going to tell a child no if they are begging to go to church. Can you capture a child’s heart? You might just capture their parents’ too.
4) Start a new, highly practical series in January and promote it at Christmas.
Some variation of this idea makes its way into every article like this, and for good reason. Still, many churches are not thinking this way! If someone who never or rarely attends church finds their way through your doors on Christmas Eve, what reason are you giving them to return after they’ve gone back to their normal lives? Perhaps something that would help them in… their normal lives?
Topics focused on marriage, purpose or parenting are good topics, since they hit felt needs of nearly all adults.
What other methods have you found that encourage Christmas Eve visitors to return?