Christmas Eve is a great opportunity to reach those outside the church that often goes unused. I’m usually arguing with several pastors during this time of the year. Seems like every year I have to convince a Senior Pastor that Christmas Eve is a powerful and great opportunity for outreach. Catholic churches have known this for centuries. Evangelicals are just now waking up to it. Here are the top 5 mistakes churches can make when planning their Christmas services.
- Give the staff Christmas Eve off. That’s a critical mistake that a lot of churches make. Christmas Eve is a great opportunity to reach out to people who want to connect with God and their families and who are looking for an opportunity to do so. Done well, your Christmas Eve service could be one of the best attended service of the entire year. If you are in ministry, working on Christmas should be expected.
- Have only one Christmas Eve service. Different time options give people a reason to say yes to an invitation to come to your service. Even if you only have two services, say one at 3 p.m. and another at 5 p.m. they give people a chance to come to church and then hit the road to visit relatives and friends without forcing people to choose between a church service or dinner at grandma. By the way, grandma wins every time.
- Go “Cutting Edge” creative. Well, if you know me you realize that I’m drawn to high-energy, creative environments. But when it comes to Christmas, I’m looking for traditional, warm, chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire type of service. And most of everybody else is looking for the same thing as well. A lot of people I talk with around Christmas time are displaced from most of their families and are looking to make traditions of their own. Christmas Eve, for those of us, is a very sentimental time, and we want to feel like George and Mary Bailey and not like Homer and Marge Simpson.
- Don’t have any preaching. The number one reason people decide whether or not to come back to a church they visited is how they felt about the Pastor. I’m not advocating an hour message, it’s Christmas after all, but the Teaching Pastor should have at least 15-20 minute message so he can engage newcomers and share with them his heart and teaching style.
- Don’t give them a reason to return. Ok, you had multiple services on Christmas Eve and it was beautiful; people showed up in droves, and you had one of your best days. And then what? Well, the first of the year is just a weekend away. That’s a key time when people make new year’s resolutions and often, one of them is to get back in church. Have a new year series ready to promo that day. Enclose the graphics and message titles in the bulletin for your Christmas Eve service. Produce a short video that promos the new series and invite people back. You’ll be surprised how many people will take you up on that offer.
How does your church celebrate Christmas?