Christmas Eve is coming, and millions of people will walk into a church to experience something. But what will they get when they walk into your church or mine?
For many of those guests, this will be the only time they attend church this year. They are coming for all kinds of reasons. Some are searching, some were drug along by a family member, and some can’t tell you why they are there. But they are there.
What will they feel? Experience? Hear?
With that in mind, here are a few last minute tips for your church and mine:
Be you. I think many churches over blow big days and try to go all out, and then when someone comes back they are disappointed. The old saying, “What you win them on is what you keep them on,” applies greatly to Christmas Eve.
Be you. Don’t try to be a different church. If you are a small church plant of 50 people, use that to your advantage and don’t try to be the megachurch of 3,000 that puts on a huge production. Be you.
Keep it simple. The church I lead strives to be a simple church in all we do, and that extends to special services and days. We want the people who walk through our doors to experience a great service, but we also want them to know this is what it is like every other week of the year.
Be friendly. Every church thinks they are friendly and most are not. So try to be friendly. As a pastor, walk around before and after the service. Be visible. Have greeters ready at the doors and walking around saying hi and engaging guests. If you find someone who doesn’t know where to go, show them, don’t point them. Walk them to where they need to go, don’t say, “Go through that door, take two lefts and then a right and walk backwards.”
Thank people for coming. I’m blown away that churches don’t say thanks to people who show up. They didn’t have to come to your church. They could’ve stayed home, but they didn’t. Say thanks. Give them a thank you gift or verbally thank them for spending the holiday with you.
Invite them back. Again, this is something many churches don’t do or don’t do well. Tell them, “We’d love to have you back.” And make it sound great. Tell them what you are inviting them back to.
Talk about Jesus. This might seem obvious because it is Christmas, but many pastors will not talk about Jesus and miss the whole point. Tell people about Jesus, regardless of what the topic of the service is. He is why you are there.
Give them a clear next step. At the end, give them a clear next step. It might be becoming a follower of Jesus, coming back next week for that brand new series you are starting, talking to someone, or something related to the sermon. It might be giving to your Christmas offering or some other response, but have one.
Keep it short. A Christmas service should be under an hour. Period. Keep it short and simple. Thank them, invite them back, talk about Jesus, give them a clear next step and say, “Merry Christmas, I’ll see you next week!”