For some people, Christmas is the only time they go to church. That is why it is critical for churches to have a strategic plan for welcoming guests, especially during holiday services. If you haven’t started, now is the time to begin planning your events to reach the first time guest who will come to your church this time of year. There’s just too much at stake! Here are some practical things you can do during your service to make an eternal difference in the lives of your guests:
Pay attention to your website and social media
Give extra attention to your website and social media leading up to your Christmas services. Is it clear and easy to find the times and locations of your Christmas services? Are all of your campuses open, or will you have one large gathering at the main campus? Will childcare be provided? Make sure every detail is covered online.
Train your holiday greeters
This seems obvious, but if you don’t usually have greeters at the entrances of the church, be sure they are present at your Christmas services. If you already have them, add more for your Christmas services, and make sure they are your most hospitable and helpful greeters. Place friendly faces at all of your entrances to the church and main worship areas so that that each guest gets a “Hello and Merry Christmas!” Encourage your greeters to offer more than a smiling face. At the very least, challenge them to remember people—because nobody likes to feel forgotten. Make a special effort to greet people you do not already know.
Greeting begins in the parking lot
The first few minutes of a guest’s experience are critical to the overall visit. Their experience starts when they pull into your church parking lot. Why not add a few extra volunteers this year to help direct and greet visitors as they find parking. Seeing a friendly face before you’re even in the door can make a big impact.
Add additional helpers
Think through the highest trafficked hallways or confusing areas of your church. These would be great spots to add additional greeters to help guide visitors to the right spot. Make it obvious who your volunteers are, using name tags, signs, or shirts so that guests know who to go to for help.
Have an overflow seating plan
Your Christmas Eve or Christmas services are usually the biggest one of the year, so have a solid plan in place for overflow seating. This includes volunteers assigned to grab more seating or direct people to a different area to watch the service. It also includes the tech team or extra tech volunteers to broadcast the service in the overflow room and attend to any potential sound issues.
Get Visitor Contact Information
Get your guests to share their contact information by offering something in return. My church gives $5 to the local food bank for each connect card that’s completely filled out and put into the offering bucket. Find what works for you and your church and do what you can to collect your guest’s information.
Engage in Meaningful Follow-Up
Follow-up on Christmas Eve immediately following the worship service. Yes, we realize that there are other things to do Christmas Eve! It’s inconvenient and everyone’s tired and wants to go home. We get that! Churches that are growing have leaders who are willing to work their tail off to get and maintain momentum to build the Kingdom
Make Your Christmas Eve Service Remarkable
Take your creativity to such a level that the service and your guests experience is talked about for weeks to come. We want your guests to be telling their friends and family about their experience so that their friends and family will want to come and experience your services for themselves.
Give Visitors a Reason to Return
Several times during the Christmas Eve service, make a big deal about your new sermon series that starts the following week or the first week of January. Use popular movies and community concerns to develop impactful sermon series. Whatever you do, be sure that you invite your guests back!
Poor hospitality is the #1 reason first-time visitors don’t return. Express this to your staff and volunteers. You have an opportunity this Christmas to share the message of Christ and draw people into your church. It’s time for all hands on deck!
What special things do you do at your church to retain your Christmas guests?
Written by Meggan Jacobus. Meggan is the staffing manager at Froot Group, a worship staffing and consulting company.