This is your chance to not only put on a great Christmas service for your community, but to sweep people up into the story of Jesus — God became flesh.
I don’t mean to stress you out, but Christmas is right around the corner. You’ve hopefully already started planning what your service will look like. The service times, the music (I love Christmas music), the decorations, the sermon. There is obviously a lot that goes on in putting together a great Christmas service.
But one thing that might be missing is clear next steps for people who come to your Christmas service.
“Next steps? It’s just a candlelight service!”
Yes, and no.
There are plenty of people who only come to church once or twice a year and this happens to be one of them. I understand wanting to give them something to enjoy as a family for Christmas. But read that sentence again.
There are plenty of people who only come to church once or twice a year and this happens to be one of them.
This is your chance to not only put on a great Christmas service for your community, but to sweep people up into the story of Jesus — God became flesh. The thing is, doing that will be next to impossible if you don’t have a plan for how people can take their next steps after the service.This is your chance to not only put on a great Christmas service for your community, but to sweep people up into the story of Jesus — God became flesh. Click To Tweet
This is particularly true of Millennials and Gen Z. More than a third (35%) of Millennials do not consider themselves affiliated with any religion at all. And even of the Millennials that are Christians, 47% say they haven’t attended church in the last six months. Millennials are becoming parents now, which means they will still likely show up to your service at least for their kids and maybe in the name of tradition. But I wouldn’t count on them coming back.
That is unless you have a plan.
So what can you do? First, begin clarifying those next steps now. It will be something that will take some time to figure out.
Here are 3 ideas to help get you started.
1. A Dedicated Webpage
The first thing you’re going to want to do is capture people’s information. But you have to get it first. Connect cards are never a bad way to do this, but one thing you can do to make it easier is create a dedicated webpage for capturing personal information.
Consider making a simple webpage along the lines of www.yourchurch.com/christmas. It can have your Christmas graphic up top, the order of service, and then a form for next steps at the bottom.
Make sure to keep the form simple. Every time you eliminate a box, the percentage of people willing to fill it out drastically rises.
First Name, Last Name, and Email should suffice. You can learn more about them when you follow up.
Of course, the goal is not simply to get people’s information, it’s what you do with their information. It’s important that you have a plan for what to do with the information that you have once Christmas is over. My next two points are some things you can do that work together as a whole strategy, but here are some other suggestions:
- Thank them for attending your Christmas service
- Ask them if they have any needs that your church can meet and if they need any prayer
- Let them know more about what your church is about
- Give them ways to get connected to your church
- Tell them about your upcoming series in the Spring and why it matters to their lives
*BONUS: In the spirit of Christmas, a wonderful thing you can do is let them know that if they fill out the form or a connect card, you will donate $5 to a non-profit of their choice. You can pre-select 5 non-profits that your church supports and send them the list to choose from after they fill it out. This gives them an incentive to give you their information, gives them an easy opportunity to give back, and shows your church’s generous heart.
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- Christmas Planning: 4 Ideas to Reach More People in January
2. Use the New Year to Your Advantage
A big thing you can do is acknowledge that the New Year is coming up and this is the time when everyone is looking ahead and making goals to improve their lives. I think this is a great time of year to tap into this desire and give people next steps to take following your Christmas service.
With this in mind, there are so many things you can do, it’s difficult to even know where to begin.
You could offer classes on marriage, parenting, and finances. You could begin a book club or rec sports league that people can sign up for in order to get to know others while taking on a hobby they enjoy. You could throw an event in the New Year for singles/young adults to come and get to know other singles/young adults in your city.
I wouldn’t try to do all of these things. Maybe just pick one that you think your church is uniquely situated to do well. Whatever you do, it needs to be quality.
This New Year/New You mentality is one of the strongest things we have going for us when it comes to next steps from the Christmas season. Capitalizing on it could be one of the biggest things we do.This New Year/New You mentality is one of the strongest things we have going for us when it comes to next steps from the Christmas season. Capitalizing on it could be one of the biggest things we do. Click To Tweet
*BONUS: You could supplement this by reiterating it in an email to all of the people whose info you captured from #1. People who hear things multiple times are more likely to take action on it. And putting that info in their email inbox will give them something to go back and look at to remind themselves.
3. After Christmas Service Day
Okay, I know this would take a bit of planning, but hear me out. People are feeling the most generous and the most desire to serve their community during Christmas. And nothing brings people together more than when they get to serve others together. This could be a great connection point for new people and current attendees alike.People are feeling the most generous and the most desire to serve their community during Christmas. And nothing brings people together more than when they get to serve others together. Click To Tweet
Consider doing a community service day soon after your Christmas service. Maybe even in place of your regular service the following week.
Partner with a local non-profit, charity, soup kitchen, food pantry or—if you have the ability—all the above and let your people live out the Gospel by serving their community. Christians and non-Christians alike would likely show up and it would show the people who simply attended your Christmas service that you are a church that cares for its community. Whether they believe in Jesus or not, they can get on board with that.
*BONUS: Millennials in particular—Christian and non-Christian—are known for their desire to make a difference in their communities. If you’re attempting to reach the next generation (and let’s be honest, you should be) then this would be an amazing way to energize the young people in your church and community to rally together around something larger than themselves.
Doing just one of these things will help you create strong next steps that will have people coming back after Christmas. But if you are able to pull off two or even all three of these, you will leave a lasting impression on someone who just thought they were bringing their family to the annual Christmas candlelight service.
What makes Christmas special is that it reminds us that we are a part of a story that is bigger than ourselves. One of the best ways we can keep people coming back is to sweep up them in that story with us.
I believe that the way we tell the story matters. That includes both in our service and after the service ends. By showing them that we are for our communities, care about their felt needs, and invite them into a story bigger than themselves, they might just come back before Easter.