Christmas events are magnetic opportunities to draw new families into your church. This time of year, parents in your community are looking for safe, Christmas-themed outings for their kids. They are looking for kindness and generosity, meaningful experiences and traditions, and a place to make new Christmas memories with their family. Plus, families always bring two, sometimes three, generations with them. That means, by focusing on families this Christmas, you are attracting multiple generations to your church.
Here are intentional outreach and attractional events geared toward families to help you grow your church this Christmas.
1. Christmas Tree Lighting
Early this December, set up a massive Christmas tree either indoors or outdoors on your church’s campus. Place a banner in front of your building, create a Facebook event for your church’s regular attenders to share online, put information up on your website, and provide invitecards for your people to hand out, so everyone in your community knows about it. Then, plan an evening filled with Christmas cheer. Begin with Christmas carols, include funny hosts, a few silly songs, some more meaningful moments, and a brief Christmas message. Have everyone count down, and light the tree as you sing one or two final carols. Afterward, encourage families to stick around for hot cocoa and cookies. On their way out, invite them to your Christmas Eve services with a flyer/postcard or Christmas Eve invitecard.
2. Random Acts of Kindness (Remote)
Engage your current families in inviting more people to church with a Random Acts of Kindness initiative this December. Create a calendar of random acts of kindness that your church members can do throughout the month. Encourage them to take a stack of Christmas Eve InviteCards and pass one out every time they do a random act of kindness. For more engagement, set up a Facebook group where people can share pictures of their random acts! Include ideas like “Tape $2 and a note to a Redbox,” “Handwrite a letter for someone going through a hard time,” “Pass out candy canes with invite cards attached,” and “Give your waitress/waiter a generous tip.” Your community receives generosity and love from your church and your church remains top-of-mind in the community.
3. Movie Night
Set up a giant movie screen inside or outside, get tons of popcorn ready, and invite the families in your community to come to a Movie Night. Choose a Christmas movie like The Star. One of the easiest groups to engage for your movie night are the families that came to your VBS! Send out an email or a postcard, and encourage families to wear their jammies, bring their own blankets, and snuggle up with their family. For a COVID-friendly option, encourage families to watch from their cars, and send masked volunteers around to deliver packages of popcorn and snacks. Position staff and volunteers around the event to greet, connect, and invite families back to Christmas Eve.
4. Small Business Christmas Bazaar
Gather local business owners from your community, and set up tables around the perimeter of one of your gathering spaces (indoor or outdoor). Invite them to sell their products or services during your Christmas Bazaar event. During the bazaar, play Christmas music, provide festive snacks, cozy drinks, and optional gift wrapping. Have staff and volunteers available to mingle, answer questions, pray, and distribute Christmas Eve invitecards. One of the goals with outreach events is always to get people to come into your church, so they can see how comfortable your space is (more on this in next week’s blog), how kind your people are, and how un-awkward it is to go to church. So, this event is great for engaging community members and local business owners. Set up a photo booth with a professional photographer, and collect email addresses for you to send out links to photos afterward. Email them again during the month of December to invite them individually to Christmas services.
5. PJs & Pancakes
Pick a Sunday in December and plan a PJs & Pancakes event between services. Give families flyers or door hangers beforehand and encourage them to bring their friends and wear their pajamas. Set up tables or blankets, serve pancakes, and have your children’s ministry volunteers lead Christmas carols while families eat. Give a host the microphone to encourage families to stay for church and announce upcoming Christmas events and Christmas Eve. On the way out the door, give them an invitation to Christmas Eve.
6. Volunteer at a Local Turkey Trot or Christmas Parade
If your town is hosting a Turkey Trot or Christmas Parade this year, make sure your church is present! Your volunteers can wear church t-shirts and pass out water cups at your Turkey Trot, or march in your community’s Christmas Parade. Always make sure that your church is generous and well-branded in church t-shirts. These are great opportunities to create brand recognition for your church and invite unchurched people to your church’s events or services.
7. Set up a “Get Prayer” Booth at the Farmers Market or Mall
Through the isolation and hardship of COVID-19, more and more we have seen people receive prayer as a gift! Attracting families is powerful, but getting new families sometimes means going out and talking to unchurched people. Farmers markets, malls, or other Christmas events are great opportunities to rent a booth space and offer prayer. Set up your booth with a tablecloth, backdrop, a pop-up banner or two, brochures or flyers for your church, business cards (especially for your church’s counselor), Christmas Eve invitations, and a TV or computer showing video footage of your church service. Booths always get more conversations started when the staff or volunteers stand in front of the table. Provide those who are manning the booth t-shirts that say, “Need prayer?” Always do a drawing for something really amazing like an iPad, and follow up with every name that enters the drawing to invite them to a Sunday service or Christmas Eve.
8. Do a Living Nativity (COVID friendly)
Choose a couple of weekend evenings this December for a living nativity. Cast a Mary and Joseph. Get a baby doll wrapped in blankets or find a family with a baby who would be willing to do the nativity for you. Gather great costumes. Rent a sheep, goat, donkey, or other animal from a local petting zoo, and tie the animal up nearby. Set up a backdrop outside of your church building. Shine lights toward the backdrop. Place a manger in the middle and two hay bales on either side for Mary and Joseph to sit. Rope off the area, so people can stand back and observe, or place your living nativity near your parking lot, so people can drive by. Invite your community with invitation postcards and a banner out front. And, position staff or volunteers to direct traffic and invite people back to church.
Keep Doing Your Signature Christmas Events Year after Year.
If your church has repeated Christmas events in the past with success, keep those going. Each year, you will have more word of mouth marketing for those events, which means more people coming to your church, especially from unchurched people who invite their friends. When it comes to the holidays, people crave the sentimental and traditional, so providing family traditions can be a powerful way to continue to welcome people from your community into your church.
At Outreach, Inc. we want your church to be a shining beacon in your community this Christmas, and we believe the birth of Jesus is one of the best times in the calendar for your church to fling its doors wide open and say, “We’re here. Jesus loves you. Come make a memory with us and discover what Real Love is.”
May God bring you droves of new people this December!