The Best Gift Your Church Can Give Your Christmas Guests

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Now that song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day… you’re welcome :)

The Christmas season, whether a person attends church or not, is a time for preparing. Preparing for the holiday festivities, hosting family or traveling, gift-giving. And for churches, it is a very special time to prepare, during Advent, for the celebration of the Christ child.

As churches, you spend a great deal of time, also, preparing for these worship services. Maybe your worship team prepares some special music. Your sanctuary is likely decorated beautifully. I’m sure the sermon has been planned and practiced for months.

Why?

Well, because it is one of the most significant holidays for Christians to celebrate. But it’s also because we know that our Christmas services will host more people than most other services all year long. There will be a HUGE influx of new people who show up to worship on Christmas Eve, maybe for the first time.

Maybe they come because it’s part of their family’s tradition.

Maybe they have held tightly to their beliefs but have walked away from the church. And during such a significant holiday, being at church feels right.

Maybe they are just looking for a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to begin again.

This presents churches with an incredible opportunity! Whatever reason a guest has to step into your church for the first time that night, they have a reason why they haven’t. You know how the chance to replace that perspective with something new. Something different. Something unique to your church that you want first-time guests to know.

Some might argue that this is no different from any other Sunday. Churches are always aiming to spiritually nourish and engage their ongoing members while also focusing on creating a space where new people feel welcome and wanted.

Christmas Eve is different, though. Christmas has become a highly secularized holiday. There are plenty of people who celebrate Christmas who have no connection to a church. The fact that it’s seemingly normal for them to attend your church on Christmas Eve because “that’s what you do at Christmas” or because Grandma doesn’t give her gifts unless you do is a big deal. We get to meet and connect with more people in our community who are unchurched than almost any other day in the calendar year and share the best gift of all with them -- the gift of connection, community, and a sense of belonging.

How do we do this?

In all of your preparations, don’t forget to create a follow-up plan so that when you meet all these wonderful new people, it doesn’t end there. It starts a conversation that leads to them toward a relationship with your church, and ultimately, with Christ.

Prepare Your Church For Christmas Guests

When you are thinking of how to be prepared for your guests on Christmas Eve we want you to think of it on a very logistical level. How are you going to aim to connect with all of them? Who will they interact with? Where will they go when they first walk in the door? How will they know about your services ahead of time?

A lot of this preparation we cover in a recent post where we talk about obsessing over first-time guests. It’s this concept of guests feeling wanted and thought of before they even meet anyone. If there were to be a perfect day to be obsessed with your church’s first-time guests, Christmas is it. If you think about it, the message of Christmas is all about God’s heart for people and giving the greatest gift. What better way to share that message than to give the gift of embracing your guests?!

This starts long before the actual Christmas Eve service. Consider the messaging on your website, your Facebook page, your signs, etc. and what it communicates to the unchurched people in your community. In addition to all of this prep ahead of time, we want to focus primarily on what to do with all of these people after they attend your Christmas Eve service.

Let’s consider the three individuals we discussed at the beginning of the article…

The one who’s here for their family.

The one who’s here because they love God and have rejected the church (who knows for how long).

The one who’s looking for a fresh start.

I know there are more. But, for the sake of strategy, let’s focus on these three. Do you think friendly faces and fancy decorations will be enough? Will their lifestyle of not being in church be broken by one positive hour? They may have a spiritual impact and a change of heart, I’m not minimizing that at all. But we are still talking about people with habits, jobs, hobbies, relationships, and the list goes on.

Now, let’s get practical about what your preparations should be. I’ve got a simple 5-step plan to help you prepare and follow-up with all your church's Christmas guests. Keep in mind that preparing for and making your guests feel welcomed starts way before they come to your church. The “front door” of your church is no longer the physical front door, it is now your website and your social media presence. In addition, preparing means thinking about how you will connect with your guests during and after their visit in order to build a relationship with them.

1. Social Media & Website

Get your service information out there via social media and your website. Set up a special page on your website that gives details about your Christmas services and what people can expect when they visit. You can also invite your guests to “Plan A Visit ” with a form on your website. Be sure to create a Facebook event for your services and encourage your members to share it and invite their friends to join you. (Bonus tip: Make sure the Facebook event links to your website!)

2. Guest Follow-up Messaging

Have your follow-up messages ready to go in advance. Don’t wait until after Christmas to decide how you are going to follow-up with your guests. Craft your emails, texts, and other follow-up messages so that they are ready for you to use when the time comes.

3. Connection Cards

Be sure to have connection cards available. Whether that be paper connection cards or digital ones , there will be A LOT of visitors so distribute and display connection cards for your guests. Make it easy for them to find and fill out. Avoid asking too many questions, just get enough information so you can follow-up with them like their name, phone number, and email address.

4. Direction & Guest Connection

Set up check-in points to catch as many guests as you can. As you are setting up your website landing page, be sure to tell your guests where to park and where to go when they get inside the building. In addition to having clearly marked signs to your worship center or sanctuary, you can also have multiple guest services kiosks or desks as well as guest services team members where guests can go to ask questions, fill out or turn in their connection cards, or just see a friendly face!

5. Create A System

Because Christmas services are so busy, sometimes guests can be forgotten or it takes a lot of work to properly follow-up. Make sure this doesn’t happen by creating a system so no one falls through the cracks . Decide ahead of time who will be greeting guests. Give your guest services team-specific prompts or things that you want them to share with your guests. Also, determine who will gather the connection cards after the services. In addition to these preparations ahead of time, set up a system that includes assigning follow-up messaging tasks to staff members or volunteers.

Make A Lasting Impact

How can we make a lasting impact on these people?

One that says...

You belong here. You’re welcome here. You’re wanted here.

They are going to feel that over time, as they build genuine relationships with people. And how do we do that in a day and age that is pulling at people’s attention from every angle? By building a follow-up system that engages people for an extended amount of time and creating opportunities to connect with them.

We can’t expect new people to come to church and do all the work. They showed up! They took that vulnerable, awkward, first step and now the ball is in our court!

So make sure your greeters are ready to go and that you have members hanging out before and after service to meet new faces. But then you, as a church leader, also need to have a system in place to follow-up with all of those people in the days and weeks following your Christmas Eve service.

You know they will be impacted. The message of Christmas leaves an impression. It invites them to follow the journey of Christ from the manger, to ministry, to the mystery of Easter. So how will you nurture that? How will you continue to shepherd those new people once they leave the walls of your church?

Reach out to them. Text them. Email them. Send them a letter. Send them a gift. And then text them again. And email them again. Send them another note saying you hope they will come back to church. Then maybe text them again and email them again… I think you get my point.

Here are a couple of scripts for text and email follow up...

Text message sent on Christmas...

Merry Christmas {FIRST_NAME}! Thanks again for joining us for our Christmas service. We hope you have a blessed holiday! ~ [INSERT PASTOR NAME]

Email sent after service...

Subject Line: Thanks for celebrating with us @ [Insert Church Name]

Hello {FIRST_NAME}

Thanks so much for joining us for our Christmas Eve service. We hope to be a place where folks can root their lives in Grace, grow in faith, and reach in love. We long to be a hospitable church.

We'd love for you to learn more about us at our website. [INSERT WEBSITE HERE] From our website you can connect with us on Facebook or listen to our podcast.

If you have any questions or would like to talk more, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

[INSERT SIGNATURE]

People are worth it, and they need to be reminded that they are wanted. The church doesn’t always feel as open and welcoming as we hope it does to the outside world, so let’s change that one epic follow-up system at a time, starting with this Christmas.

Conclusion

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year! As you prepare for Christmas from a service planning perspective, make sure to take the time to systematically prepare to welcome, follow-up and create lasting impact with those who will be coming for the first time in a long time or perhaps the first time ever.

5 steps to do just that...

1. Get your service information out there via social media and your website
2. Have follow-up messages ready
3. Be sure to have connection cards available
4. Set up check-in points to catch as many guests as you can
5. Create a system so no one falls through the cracks

When you use these steps, you are doing more than just being a good host to your guests. You are giving the best gift you can give, the gift of feeling known, noticed, and loved. You are welcoming them not just to a service, but into a church home, a place with people who accept them and care about them. You are giving the gift of relationship.

P.S. If you’re looking for a system that can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, have we got a Christmas gift for you! Thousands of churches use Text in Church every week to save time, reach more people, and increase their impact. Start your free trial to see just how easy it is.

P.P.S. Get all the messaging you need for Christmas with these incredible copy & paste templates!!!