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