Christmas is an exciting time of year at any church. Not only do you get to celebrate the birth of the Savior and deepen the faith of believers, but you have the opportunity to share the gospel with visitors and lead them to Christ. Win-win, right?
Well, it should be.
But if you start planning your church’s Christmastime calendar too late, then a festive, joyful time of year can quickly turn stressful. That’ll definitely hurt staff and volunteer morale, but you know what else? It can affect the quality and effectiveness of your services, worship, and every other element of your Christmas outreach. You don’t want Veronica Visitor showing up hoping for a meaningful Christmas service only to leave underwhelmed and never to return, or worse—never showing up at all.
There is no better time for outreach than Christmas time. Eliminate theses possibilities and start planning for Christmas now. Here are four reasons why there really is no time like the present:
1. Planning lowers stress levels.
We said it once, and we’ll say it again, because it’s that important: Planning really does reduce stress. In fact, according to a survey conducted by psychologist and self-help author Robert Epstein, 25 percent of our happiness hinges on how well we’re able to manage stress. And the best stress prevention, the survey found, is actually stopping it before it starts, by planning well.
Imagine two different possibilities: a team of church staff and volunteers who are worried, panicked, throwing together their church’s December calendar…the week before December. They’re concerned no one will show up because they haven’t mailed the invitations to the Christmas service or concert yet. (Still need to order your Christmas invitations? We can help!) There’s no cohesive look, tone or feel to the church’s Christmas festivities. Decorations are sparse because no team was organized to handle them. The kids’ ministry needs extra volunteers but no one has stepped up. Sounds stressful just reading that, doesn’t it?
Now, imagine a team whose plan has been solidified for months. There’s a timeline for when everything will take place, a list of teams responsible for every element of the season, and an advertising plan to make sure your whole community knows what’s happening at your church all month long—and everything’s ready to go in November. That sounds like a happy place to be, doesn’t it? Your church team (and their families) can actually enjoy the holiday because they aren’t drowning in stress.
2. Early decorating is good for those inside and outside the church.
We know. When to start decorating for Christmas can be a hot-button issue (at least wait until the turkey is carved!) but those who start early are onto something. Research has actually found that not only does decorating early make you happier and conjure feelings of nostalgia, but outsiders who see your decorations may actually interpret you as more friendly and sociable, as if extending an olive branch — and isn’t that how every church wants to be seen?
Sure, decorations are just one small part of Christmas planning. But chances are that many, if not all, of your Christmas-related resources, like Christmas-themed social media posts and web graphics have some sort of festive sparkle or peaceful manger scene incorporated into them. Just seeing those every day can help put you in the right mood for the holidays.
And if you start decorating the outside of your church building early, you might find that your neighbors perceive you more positively, too. Maybe they’d even consider giving your church a whirl this holiday season. Time to dig out the decor!
3. Planning ahead increases productivity.
Have you ever had so much to do that you didn’t know where to begin? And when you did finally begin, you didn’t do anything very well? Chances are, you were feeling overwhelmed and lacking any sort of strategy to tackle your work.
What you need is a roadmap (a great place to start is a pre-designed Advent series or campaign kit that takes you through the entire Christmas season). Mapping out a strategy and naming your goals actually helps you get more done in less time; it increases productivity. In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey writes that we often spend too much time on the urgent but not enough time on the important. Two or three months out, Christmas is definitely important, but not urgent. That’s when you want to tackle it. Starting now means that not only are your Christmas plans more polished, but you’re able to also give attention to all the other business of running a church that happens in the meantime.
4. Early preparation and organization means a more successful season.
We all know that leading a church is an act of ministry, and that you’re a church leader first and foremost. But when you’re trying to spread the word about Christmas at your church, you have to think a little like a marketer. After all, you’re advertising your church and the Christmas season in order to attract visitors and share the gospel.
Research shows that top marketers are proactive about their projects and campaigns. In fact, those who proactively plan are 356 percent more likely to report success. And the most organized marketers are 397 percent more likely to report success. It pays to be both proactive and organized!
How do most marketers get the word out? The average marketer uses just a handful of publicity methods, the most common being email, word of mouth, website, and mailed invitations. Fortunately, those are all within reach of most churches, regardless of size or location.
Ready to get started? A great place to begin is making sure your church’s website and social media are reaching as many people, as effectively as possible. Download our free PDF, “How to Make Your Church Website and Social Media Effective for the Season” for ways to share your church’s Christmas plans with your community today!