It’s a commonly known fact that church attendance increases during the Christmas season. Due to this increased attendance, your church has a huge opportunity to reach out to first-time guests and to make their Christmas season more meaningful.
As you prepare for the season, and all those first-time guests, think of at least one outreach you can do outside of the usual Christmas services to connect with people because you never know the seeds that are being planted or where they will lead…
- Open Your Church for a Community Meal. The holiday season is tough for some people (possibly including those who are visiting your church for the first time), so open the doors of your church and have a meal together. For non-churchgoers, a meal together is a great way to connect with others. Once your guests have been physically fed, this is a perfect opportunity to spiritually feed them as well. Make it about more than the meal. Make it about fellowship, community, and about God.
For non-churchgoers, a meal together is a great way to connect with others. Once your guests have been physically fed, this is a perfect opportunity to spiritually feed them as well.
- Adopt a Local Family in Need. There are a lot of ways to do this. You may have families within the walls of your church that would greatly benefit from some extra care at Christmas and there is likely a family in your community that is alone and going without this Christmas. Encourage small groups or Sunday school classes to commit to blessing one family for Christmas. I have personally been a part of adopting a family at Christmas and have later seen those families attending a service at my church. I immediately had a connection with that family that was visiting for the first time and they felt at home because they felt like a part of the group already.
- Christmas Caroling. This may sound a little cheesy, but it’s a great way to spread some Christmas joy and to follow-up with first-time guests who leave their address with the church after they visit. If drop-in visits are not part of the way your church follows up with guests, consider sending a Christmas card or email with information about your Christmas services for this year.
- Make your Church’s Activities Family Friendly. Get families involved by creating a space in your church where children can “shop” for inexpensive gifts for their parents. The church where I grew up throws a Community Christmas Party every December and invites anyone in the community to come to “shop” for donated items, free gift wrapping, and Christmas cookies. It was (and still is) a huge success every year and the church continually has visitors on Sunday that first heard about them through the Christmas party.
- Don’t Stress. This one may be easier said than done. You still have time to plan and get your activities ready for guests. Remember, most people will be grateful no matter how small the act because it’s about the attitude behind your outreach. Anything your church decides to do is a way of showing the love of Christ at Christmas.
Anything your church decides to do is a great way of showing the love of Christ as Christmas.
Instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, move your church’s focus to how your church can make Christmas more meaningful for guests and for your community.
About Faith Perceptions
Faith Perceptions is a market research firm that provides churches and faith-based organizations with research about their target market. We send ‘unchurched’ mystery guests into churches across the country each week to report back to us on what their experiences are like. We use this information to help churches improve the way they welcome and connect with people. Faith Perceptions has been evaluating the first-time guest experience since 2008.