Christmas is a big deal, especially in the church. It’s when congregations see the largest increase in attendance, and it is the best time of the year for us church programmers to make a big difference.
We are joyously proclaiming the birth of Christ: God making good on his promise of a savior. That kind of event requires the biggest party of the year! We also welcome many non-regular churchgoers that feel coming to church during the holiday season fulfills their Christian duty for the year.
Because churches are catering to two very different groups during Christmas, you have to plan for these services with a little more finesse than you would an average Sunday. No matter your approach to Christmas, it is imperative to tell the gospel story in such a way that it remains fresh and engaging to your most knowledgeable attendee, but is also easily understood by the guest who has no idea that God came to Earth in the form of a baby. There are many video clips you can use or drama pieces that can do just this. (Check out the Christmas Series Resource page for ideas.)
It may even be as simple as just reading the Christmas story:
As I mentioned before, reaching such a variety of Christians and non-Christians alike requires planning and skill. It is critical to form a committee or group and to plan out your holiday services as early as possible. (July is not too early).
Here are some general tips that can help you get started:
Who should be on your planning team?
That is entirely up to you; there is no right or wrong answer. I have been involved with teams that were large and encompassed most every staff member, as well as small two-person teams where we nailed down a plan and presented it to the senior pastor. At Northview, our team is led by the creative arts pastor (Creative Worship Ideas) and involves a rotating group of staff and volunteers.
In short: whether your team is made up of 2 or 15, the key is choosing people who want to be there and who come prepared!
How long should you meet?
Set a time limit. That way there is pressure to perform as well as well as light at the end of the tunnel. I suggest setting up a series of two-hour meetings. Spend the first-hour brainstorming a new service idea, and the second hour working on the implementation of the service that was brainstormed the previous week. Never leave an implementation meeting without action items for the team. Try forming subgroups at the brainstorming meeting to run with the main elements of the service, and present them back at the implementation meeting a week later. Doing this saves on time as a whole, and gets deeper involvement from the entire team.
Feel free to leave a comment with any planning team questions you have, and make sure to check back each day through November 12th for more ways to keep your Christmas planning on track!