Three Problems with Anonymous Feedback

Years ago, I heard someone say, “Any anonymous notes or feedback should be thrown away and not even considered. If someone doesn’t have the guts to put their name on it, disregard it.” Frankly, I was uncomfortable with that, and I still am. Sometimes people fear they’ll be rejected because of their feedback, and so won’t put their name on it. Does that mean their feedback doesn’t matter? I don’t think so.

So guess what I do when I receive anonymous feedback or comments? I throw it away. If it is intended for someone I work with, they never receive it, because I don’t bother passing it on. “Wait a minute…” you’re wondering. Didn’t I just say I was uncomfortable with what I’d heard about anonymous feedback? Yep – and I still feel that way. I don’t throw anonymous feedback away because of the whole “someone should have the guts to put their name on it!” reasoning. I’ve simply come to learn that anonymous feedback just isn’t helpful – in fact, it’s usually detrimental.

Here’s why.

  1. When we receive anonymous feedback, we don’t know who it’s from.

Yes, I’m stating the obvious, but it’s important to recognize this. We don’t know the context of the person who wrote it. We don’t know what experiences shaped their feedback. And so we end up assuming things about the person, most of which are probably false. For example, let’s say someone is critical of how a church handles check-in for children’s ministry, and they say so “anonymously.” We don’t know the ages of their children. We don’t even know if they have children. What is it about check-in that they don’t feel is working? We can’t even ask, because we don’t know who provided the feedback. So then we “assume” things and make tweaks based on our assumptions, having no idea if we assumed the right things. If the person had provided their name, we would know more about the situation, and what needs improvement.

  1. We can’t dialogue.

When someone writes one or two sentences (or even a full page) of feedback, it probably is not an exhaustive explanation of everything that person is experiencing. If we could have a conversation, we could truly discover more about the feedback and what we can learn from it. For example, if someone is critical of a video clip used during worship, it might be helpful to know that it was because it brought back painful childhood memories. That would help us understand the situation. But the anonymous comment, “That video clip made me uncomfortable” doesn’t allow us to have a dialogue to learn more about what’s really taking place.

  1. Credibility is tied to relationships.

If a stranger passing by on the street gave me the same advice as someone with whom I’ve had a close friendship since high school, I’m much more likely to listen the person with whom I have a relationship. They have credibility, because I know and trust them. But anonymous feedback has even less credibility than a stranger on the street – at least I can put a face on the stranger on the street! Anonymous feedback will always be the feedback of strangers, who don’t have much credibility (and rightly so).

Feedback can be great – in fact, it’s necessary for facilitating continued growth and development. I frequently solicit feedback from others, for the sake of seeing opportunities to improve! But I’ve learned over the years that anonymous feedback doesn’t actually help you improve anything – it’s just makes you a slave to strangers.

Jerod Walker began serving as a pastor at the age of 19 while in Bible college in rural Missouri. Since then he’s served in churches from 35 to 1800, as a children’s pastor, family ministries pastor, and lead pastor. In 2011 he started Legacy Christian Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Jerod currently serves as a ministry coach and resides in Wisconsin with his wife and 6 children.

Four Ways to Get More Info Cards from Guests

So, you still have guests fill out a card…

Don’t worry! You’re not alone and it’s actually still the most reliable way to get information for solid follow-up.

You’ve got your checklist of follow-up materials for first-time guests after your Saturday/Sunday worship service(s).

  • You’ve purchased postcards (complete with your church logo and a hipster couple in a coffee shop), so someone can send them a handwritten postcard on Monday morning.

  • You’ve set up a system so that they receive a follow-up email from the lead pastor (automatically), also on Monday morning.

  • You’ve created a workflow that ensures someone has been asked to make a phone call to them by Thursday.

  • You’ve set up a sequential email campaign, so that additional follow-up emails go out at 2, 3, and 4 weeks after their first visit.

All that’s great! Except, how do you capture that information from first-time guests so that you can do any of that follow-up?

We’re going to look at a classic method of capturing guest information, the communication card (also known as a connect card, next steps card, or the tear-off flap). You may be thinking, “We tried that, but we couldn’t get guests to fill it out.” Well, that’s what these next steps are all about. You’ll likely never be able to get every single guest to fill out a card, but your chances improve greatly using the suggestions below.

  1. Mention the card multiple times.

“If you insert it, they will fill it out” simply doesn’t apply here. If you want guests filling out the cards, you need to mention them, from the stage, more than once every single Sunday. Will your regulars get tired of hearing about it? Yes. But, frankly, it’s not all about them! I digress, though. At a minimum, make reference to it early in the service, during some kind of welcome; and then refer to it again after the message or before giving time.

  1. Train your “regulars” to all fill out the card.

Notice we didn’t mention “guest card” at all in this post. If you have a special card that is only for guests, you’re doing it wrong. Guests typically want to avoid standing out. Anything they are asked to do that is different from everyone else will likely be ignored. The flip side of that – “If everyone else is doing it, I’d better do it, too, so that I don’t stand out.” So if I don’t see anyone near me filling out a card, I feel awkward if I do so; but if I’m the only one not filling it out, I’ll go ahead and do it so that I’m not “the weird one.” Include in your welcome some reason that everyone in the room should be filling out a card.

  1. Ask for something unique each week.

If the card never changes, my reasons for filling it out are reduced (whether a guest or regular attendee). So, ask for at least one thing different every week. One great example – on the back of the card, suggest some “next steps” that people can commit to, based on the message that day (which very naturally gives you a second time to mention the card, right after the message). Or, change the opportunities to serve each week, highlighting just a couple of areas of greatest need. If I’ve checked a box or written in a blank, I’m more likely to feel I need to do something with it, like turn it in.

  1. Collect during giving.

Conventional wisdom in churches is that guests feel awkward during giving time, especially if baskets (buckets, bags, plates – I was part of a church plant that used planter pots because they were cheap!) are passed through the rows of seats. Asking everyone to put their cards in those baskets is great in 2 ways: (1) It passes by every person, making it much easier to turn in compared to expecting guests to find some special welcome area (believe me – they care less about that great gift you promise than you think); and (2) It gives guests something to put in the bucket, so they don’t feel awkward passing the basket by and not putting anything in (yes, that’s motivation to put a card in the basket).

Get your follow-up team ready! If you’ll implement all four of these suggestions, you might find they’re a little busier than before.

Watch for future posts about recommended follow-up practices, and using language in our services that includes the first-time guest. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you.  Email me your process for following up with first-time guests (jwalker@elexio.com).

Jerod Walker began serving as a pastor at the age of 19 while in Bible college in rural Missouri.  Since then he’s served in churches from 35 to 1800, as a children’s pastor, family ministries pastor, and lead pastor.  In 2011 he started Legacy Christian Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.  Jerod currently serves as a ministry coach and resides in Wisconsin with his wife and 6 children.

But Our Church Has Always Done It This Way

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As churches evaluate their processes and introduce new ways of doing things, the biggest pushback they typically hear is, “that’s not how we’ve always done it.”

The elders don’t want to switch things up. The pastor doesn’t like change. Volunteers are worried new tools will be difficult to learn. Even tools and ideas that will simplify their jobs are shunned.

But we’ve always printed weekly bulletins.

But we’ve always passed the offering plate.

But we’ve always mailed follow-up letters.

Continuing to do things the way you’ve always done them with no consideration of improvements can be detrimental to your ministry for 3 reasons:

1. Your church changes

Is your church exactly the same as it was 25 years ago? Or has it tripled in size, or moved to a new location, or become predominately populated by young families? As the church grows and changes, the way it addresses needs and functions ought to change too. You might need to add ministries for the large number of single parents in your congregation. Your method of follow-up might need to adjust as visitors pour into your church. You may have been able to manage basic member information in Excel as a church plant, but that method just isn’t practical for a thriving church of 1,000. You’ll probably need software to simplify these processes.

2. The community around you changes

People probably aren’t looking for the exact same external qualities in a church that they were decades ago. And they certainly aren’t looking for churches in the same way. Many church seekers—millennials in particular—are now looking for a place where they’ll have the opportunity to get involved and make a difference, and they’re searching online for the right fit. Your church didn’t need a website 25 years ago, but people aren’t looking for a new congregation in the phone book when they move into town anymore. Their expectations have changed, and in order to reach them, your church has to adapt.

3. The technology changes

As technology advances at a rapid pace, the variety of tools available to churches only continues to grow. Volunteers no longer need to jot down the name of each kid in nursery—they can use check-in kiosks. Donors don’t have to hit the ATM just so they can make contributions to your church—they can give online. And staff members don’t need to waste hours on data entry—they can integrate their church management software with other tools. Refusing to take advantage of available technology simply because it would mean change could end up costing your church time, money, and disciples in the long run.

If what you’re doing still works, then carry on. But make sure you honestly evaluate your processes and determine that there isn’t a better way before you settle. And be careful not to swing too far in the other direction. Don’t switch things up if there isn’t a better way. You wouldn’t text advice to a person desperate for help. Face-to-face interaction will always be necessary for some things.

When you do adjust the way you do things and get buy-in from leadership, most people will eventually embrace the change if you explain the reasoning. But you can never make everyone happy. You’ll always face some disgruntled people no matter what you choose.

The constant in your church is the truth of the gospel—not offering plates or felt Bible stories or complicated spreadsheets. Embracing some change could mean great opportunity for your church.

How has your church broken free from the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality? 

Should Your Church Print Weekly Bulletins?

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The bulletin. Worship guide. Or whatever your church calls those Bible stuffers that leak fluorescent pink sign-up cards all over the foyer.

What’s the purpose? Does your church really need a bulletin?

Many churches have been printing and distributing hundreds of bulletins each week for years without ever considering why. It’s just what they’ve always done. Typically church bulletins keep people informed of what’s going on in the church and include lists of upcoming events, recent giving and attendance stats, and some notes to accompany the sermon. Bulletins might also provide information for visitors and an opportunity for greeters to connect with these guests.

Why are some churches abandoning bulletins?

Even though printed weekly bulletins have effectively communicated these details for years, some churches are shifting away from them for a few reasons:

  • Printing hundreds or thousands of quality bulletins each week can become time-consuming or costly for churches.
  • Printed bulletins don’t allow for much flexibility and can’t be corrected of any errors without additional costs.
  • In some cases, they’re growing obsolete as people embrace new technology. Many people simply grab one because a greeter was there handing out bulletins. But they barely skim it then toss it in the trash.

What are some alternatives to printing a weekly bulletin?

  • Some churches that still want a physical paper bulletin without the hassle and cost of weekly printing opt for a monthly bulletin. This method can save the church money but must be planned even further in advance, so content isn’t as timely.
  • Video announcements have already replaced bulletins in many churches. While more engaging than a piece of paper, they’re also more limited in the amount they can communicate and only reach the people who are in the worship area as they play.
  • Weekly email newsletters have taken the place of bulletins in some churches. Even though most people now have email addresses, these messages often go unread and a portion of the church community never learns about important updates and opportunities.
  • Many churches make the information that would be included in a printed bulletin available through a mobile app. Although this is convenient for most of the church community, visitors probably won’t download an app just to access sermon notes or check out upcoming events.
  • To maintain the hospitality aspect, some churches place volunteers at a welcome station to provide the information that would normally be found in a bulletin. But most guests will be too timid to walk up and ask questions.

If you’re sticking with the traditional bulletin, how can you make it better?

  • Consider your audience. This bulletin will be handed to both guests and regular attendees. While it should keep your church community informed, a bulletin could serve as the first impression of your church and should be conducive to guests. Avoid church lingo and ministry acronyms. Provide the contact information that visitors need to connect and take the next step. Don’t just tell them to talk to Brother Bill after the service—they have no idea who that is!
  • Include the necessary information—no more, no less. If your bulletin would benefit from a table of contents, it’s too long. People are more likely to read and remember your important announcements if there are fewer distractions. Eliminate the stagnant content and cut down on the amount of announcements. It might leave ministries fighting for inclusion, but you’ll create a more effective bulletin.
  • If you’re going to do it, do it right. Produce a quality bulletin that follows your church branding, contains no grammar or spelling mistakes, and reflects your church well.

So what’s the right choice?

Well, it depends on your individual church. Consider the culture and demographics of your church. And see how many bulletins are just left crumpled in the auditorium after a service.

If you find a way to more effectively disseminate information, don’t be afraid to make a change to the way you’ve always done things. There’s no perfect solution, and you might leave people dissatisfied no matter what you choose.

What do you think—bulletin or no bulletin?

Check out these other resources for more helpful tips and ideas:

Simple Guidelines for Better Bulletins

4 Technology Options that Might Kill the Church Bulletin

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

6 Keys To Successful Church Event Management

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From cantatas to conferences to camps, churches typically host dozens of events each year. Hundreds of details need to align so these events can go off without a hitch—that’s where technology comes in and can simplify event management.

But before you even get started with planning, make sure the event is right for your church. Don’t just host a bunch of random events because that’s what you’ve always done. Ask these five questions to determine if the event has a real purpose and is right for your church.

Once you’ve ensured that a banquet or retreat or breakfast will serve your church community well, consider these 6 factors to successfully manage the event:

Communication and promotion

How are you going to get the word out about your next conference or outreach activity? You have plenty of opportunities to make sure people know what’s coming up; you just need to take advantage of them. Promote your event during the Sunday morning service. Use the information you’ve collected to send a mass email to the right audience. Include details on your website. Post on social media to keep your church community informed and allow them to invite guests. And integrate all calendars from your mobile app to your website so you can communicate consistently.

Registration and payment

Don’t let a complex registration process deter people from signing up for your event. Online registration forms provide convenience, and a mobile app option allows people to sign up from the pew as your staff announces the event. If your event has a fee, include payment options in the registration process. When all these elements are integrated with your church database, planning will be much simpler for your staff.

Volunteers

For most events that your church hosts, you’ll need some extra hands to get all the work done. When you’re recruiting help, make sure you find the right volunteers with the right talents for the right positions. Let your church community know that you need help and make signing up for these service opportunities easy—like from a kiosk or online. Once you’ve got the people you need, maintain communication with them and let volunteers know what you expect out of them. And after your event, express your gratitude for their service so they’ll be happy to lend a hand again.

Resource planning

Some events will be offsite or require nothing more than just standing room, but others require plenty of church resources like chairs, AV equipment, and designated rooms. Rather than learn at the last minute that the tables you need for the men’s breakfast are all being used for a seminar down the hall, plan and claim everything you’ll need in advance. Keep track of these resources within your church database, so everyone knows what items are up for grabs.

Check-in

Keep a record of everyone who arrives at your event while making the process a breeze for attendees. Allow guests to check in on a kiosk and encourage your church community to check in from their smartphones on the way to the event.

Follow-up

Use those check-in records to send follow up communication to the people that attended your event. You might send them a general thank you, a feedback survey, or complimentary resources. You can also invite them to related events in the future.

Looking for church software that will simplify these elements of event management? Contact us!

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

4 Ways To Make The Most Of Limited Church Resources

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You don’t need a multi-million dollar budget and a 100-person staff to operate a church that effectively produces disciples. Whether you’re a church plant, a staff of one, or just tight on time and money, your church should take advantage of some simple ways to make the most of limited resources.

  1. Recruit volunteers and delegate

You might not have the extra funds to hire additional staff, but you’ve got plenty of capable people in your church community that can volunteer their time. You just need to get the word out and make it easy for them to get involved with the right service opportunity. Recruit the right people with the right gifts for each need. Allow them to sign up online, through a mobile app, and on a kiosk in the church lobby. And once you’ve got the volunteers, be willing to give up some control and delegate tasks.

  1. Integrate your systems

From utility providers to insurance companies, you already deal with plenty of vendors each month. Choosing an integrated suite that includes your ChMS database, website CMS, mobile app, and check-in system will mean one bill and one support team for your church software. Integration will also save your staff from reentering data into each platform and will make giving, connecting, and volunteering easier for your church community.

  1. Take advantage of free resources

Many companies and organizations offer a variety of resources to churches and other non-profits. If your church is financially strapped, you probably don’t have much of a marketing budget, but Google’s Ad Grants program could provide your ministry with up to $329 of free online advertising each day. And several websites offer free graphics, videos, templates, and much more specifically for the local church. Check out this list for some ideas to get started and don’t let freebies go to waste.

  1. Give your church community some responsibility

Even with a support staff and volunteers, you can’t do it all. Encourage everyone in your church community to help out by updating their own personal information whenever they move or switch phone numbers. If each person quickly makes these changes from a kiosk on Sunday morning or online whenever they have time, you could redirect hours each week to ministry, not administrative details. You should also task your church community with printing their own contribution statements each tax season. It’s a small, simple step that could reap great rewards for your church.

Don’t let a miniscule budget or small staff keep your church from making an impact. How has your church creatively made the best of limited resources?

Image Credits: istockphoto

6 Things Your Church Should Do In 2015

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As another year winds down, people create lists of New Year’s resolutions that they probably won’t keep. But your church can make a few changes in 2015 that are practical and will leave a lasting impact:

1. Review the systems that you already have in place—like your ChMS. Are you using everything that’s available to you and getting what you pay for? Don’t let valuable tools go to waste!

2. Make sure you’re providing your church community with plenty of giving options. Not everyone carries a checkbook anymore.

  • Online giving makes it easy to set up recurring giving and print contribution statements.
  • Mobile giving allows people to give when and where it’s convenient for them.
  • Giving kiosks provide a convenient option for people at your church.

3. Integrate your ChMS and website to save time, simplify tasks for your staff, and help your church community stay connected.

4. Implement a flexible check-in system that can work offline and allows mobile check-in.

5. Update your web presence.

6. Consider a mobile app to increase engagement with your church community. People can register for events, give, and stay connected right from their smartphones with an app that is integrated with your church database.

What changes is your church making in 2015? 

4 Church Volunteer Lessons From Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

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Although it’s an hour of singing snowmen and flying reindeer, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is packed with valuable lessons for kids of all ages.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—well, you should watch it this Christmas season because it’s an American classic. But you can get the gist from the lyrics to the holiday carol.

So what can reindeer and a sleigh full of toys teach you about the volunteers at your church?

Look at the unlikely heroes. The Island of Misfit Toys was filled with polka-dotted elephants and choo-choos with square wheels—not your typical Christmas morning presents. Because they didn’t fit the perfect present stereotype, they were labeled outsiders and banished. The self-proclaimed team of wandering misfits was comprised of an aspiring dentist elf, a reindeer with a light bulb for a nose, and a gun-toting mountain man in search of gold. They certainly made a motley crew. But together, they tamed an abominable snow monster and saved Santa’s Christmas Eve expedition. Yukon Cornelius had the inside scoop on Bumble. Hermey’s dental skills came in handy. Rudolph’s nose shone the way for Santa’s sleigh. And some eccentric toys put smiles on the faces of a few kids Christmas morning.

After pouring hours of effort into recruiting volunteers, sometimes church leaders feel like they’ve been dealt a band of misfits rather than the dream team they were hoping for.

Volunteers may not always be what you expect, but that doesn’t mean they can’t blow your expectations out of the water and provide value. If your church has ended up with volunteersthat are as unlikely as a water pistol that shoots…jelly, follow these four tips:

  1. Find ways to use people’s unique gifts—don’t pigeonhole them into a specific role that doesn’t suit their talents. If you do, you could lose them as volunteers. Remember, not all elves can make toys! Rather than focusing on reaching a volunteer quota, focus on matching people to the right positions. Keep an open mind—if the volunteers you have won’t make good youth leaders, maybe they’re the start of a new ministry at your church.
  2. Get creative and focus on how different people and gifts can work together to help the church. After all, it took a team of misfits and a pair of pliers to tame the snow monster. Don’t focus on one person’s weakness because that’s where another volunteer might shine. Help people discover what their gifts are, leverage those strengths, and form multi-faceted teams. Especially in a smaller church, you’ll need to pool your resources and find new ways to work with what you have.
  3. Keep track of what people are good at in your church database so you can recruit them for similar roles in the future. Don’t you think Santa called on Rudolph each foggy Christmas Eve and every elf with a toothache went to Hermey for an extraction?
  4. If all else fails, maybe you need to recruit better next time. Certainly they made some changes in the North Pole after that fiasco! Use the information you recorded to find individuals with the right gifting. Ask people specifically, don’t just make the blanket statement that you need help. And recruit volunteers face-to-face.

The volunteers you end up with may not be exactly what you imagined, but those misfits might just surprise you and save the day.

Check out these other resources to maximize your church volunteer potential:

7 Key Steps of Recruiting, Training and Retaining Church Volunteers

How to Make the Most of Your Volunteers

10 Ways to Double Your Church Volunteer Recruitment and Retention 

4 Tips To Bring Christmastime Visitors Back To Your Church

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Whether they’re Chreasters or families looking for a new place to worship, your church has the rare opportunity to connect with a large number of visitors this Christmas season. Some may be out-of-towners, but most guests attending your holiday services are locals who could potentially become a part of your growing church community. Follow these tips to make sure they come back even after the decorations are put away:

1. Deliver on your promises

When you promoted the Christmas program, did you embellish at all just to get people there? If you advertised an ornate live nativity, but you’ve really got a baby doll and some plastic donkeys, you’re probably misleading visitors.

Remember your long-term goal—bringing those guests back so they can connect with your church and be discipled. But why would they want to come back if they’re disappointed and feel like they’ve been hoodwinked this time around?

Set the right expectations and deliver on those promises. Better yet, under-promise and over-deliver. They’ll be pleasantly surprised.

2. Provide a positive experience

It’s not just about the vocals or the chocolate chip cookies you hand out after the cantata. It’s about every interaction from the moment guests walk through the door.

  • Ensure your check-in process is fast, easy, and secure. Christmas visitors are usually coming with the entire family, so prepare for packed nurseries and leery parents. A system that quickly prints food allergies and medical information on nametags will be a relief to families.
  • Keep it kid-friendly unless you’ve specifically planned an adult-only event. Parents will be able to enjoy themselves if their toddlers aren’t squirming around the pews out of boredom. People are more accepting of sentimental cheesiness this time of year, anyway. So let the toddlers sing away!
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut, but don’t stray too far from tradition either—especially if it’s worked for you in the past. People are familiar with the Christmas story and know what to expect. It’s the one time of year when most people take comfort in tradition rather than search for something new. So unless you’ve told them that you’ll be switching things up, keep your Christmas lineup simple.
  • Be genuine, but still put your best foot forward. Christmas at church is kind of like a first date: you want to be your true self, but the very best version of yourself. Don’t leave out important details so visitors feel like your services aren’t too “churchy,” only to change your tune the next week. People can usually see right through the façade or they’ll be unhappy when they return to a completely different environment later.

3. Show them what you have to offer  

While you’ll be focusing on the Christmas story, don’t forget to let visitors know what else your church has to offer beyond Christmastime. Give them a preview of what’s coming up next and highlight those ministries that would be of interest to visitors. Invite them to the upcoming sermon series or special event. Just don’t let them leave without seeing how your church can be relevant to their lives year round.

4. Follow up with them

Collect guest information at check-in or through visitor cards and enter it into your church database so you can follow up with them after the holidays. While you’d typically reach out to visitors within a day or two, people don’t want to be bothered by phone calls or emails while they’re spending quality time with family. Once things calm down after the New Year, reach out to your Christmastime guests and invite them back.

Visit these other resources for more Christmas tips and ideas:

5 Last-Minute Christmas Service Improvements

Plan for Growth During the Christmas Holidays

5 Videos for Christmas Church Services – Note: Link is no longer live

7 Ways Your Church Can Reach Chreasters This Holiday Season

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Chreasters. Or maybe you prefer CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only). You know—those people who only step foot inside a church two times a year.

They’re looking for a place to go this holiday season. According to Google trends, searches for the word “church” spike at Christmastime, second only to Easter. Are you taking advantage of this season when people who wouldn’t typically join in worship are searching for a church to visit?

1. Get specific

Is your church putting on a Christmas cantata? Are you hosting a candlelight Christmas Eve service? Be specific about the details in your promotion of events. People are more likely to attend a special holiday program than a regular Sunday morning worship service because they have certain expectations this time of year. Childcare and refreshments will also leave people more inclined to be your guests, so tell them ahead of time what you have to offer.

2. Get online

People are searching for a place to go over the holidays, so make sure they can easily find you. Keep your website current and provide plenty of information about Christmas events. Larger churches hosting a variety of major programs might even find value in a dedicated microsite. Check out these eight examples for inspiration.

3. Get noticed

Don’t count on people just finding you organically online. Consider some online advertising during this time of year—try out Google’s Ad Grants program for free. It can serve as a good test to see if this kind of advertising is worthwhile for your church and won’t cut into your tight budget.

4. Get social

Actively promote your Christmas festivities throughout your social networks. Tweet details of your services and create events on Facebook that your church community can share with friends. Create some graphics that will catch people’s eyes rather than a status update that most will overlook. Check out these free resources to get started.

5. Get communicative  

Take advantage of the contact list that you’ve collected. Send an email blast to people who’ve visited your church before and consider a physical mailing based on your audience. The personal invitation will serve as a good reminder of their experience with your church. There’s no better time to reignite their interest in your church.

6. Get creative

There’s no one right way to get the word out—it all depends on the local community surrounding your church. Some close-knit communities find success participating in parades and distributing flyers with candy canes, while a young megachurch in the heart of a modern city might not see the same results. However you choose to advertise, make it personal. Provide invite cards for your church community and challenge them to invite friends and family. They can drop one off with a tray of cookies at a neighbor’s home or hang some in local coffee shops and on community announcement boards. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

7. Get prepared

If you’re in an area that could possibly see snow and ice, develop a communication plan in the case of a cancellation. Make a decision as early as possible, and be sure to at least communicate updates everywhere that you promoted the service. Visitors won’t be happy with your church if they brave the elements only to arrive at an empty building.

Take advantage of this holiday season to turn those Chreasters into year-round disciples. Only 23 days till Christmas—better get started!

Check out these other great resources for more ways to reach your community this Christmas season:

5 Ways Social Media Can Help Churches Connect at Christmas

Church Christmas Ideas