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10 tips for Christmas and New Year’s planning

SUMMARYChristmas and New Year's may be holidays, but the service planning team doesn't take time off. Remember that unchurched people are very receptive to coming to church during this time. Embrace the opportunity for them to come to yours. 

Plan for these important, but sometimes overlooked, elements of welcoming on Christmas Eve:

  1. Remind the congregation to greet old friends, who may be home for the holidays, AFTER they practice the "Rule of Three." (The "Rule of Three" covers the first three minutes after the service ends - a prime time for newcomers to dash for the door. Talk only to people you don't know during those three minutes, so you can welcome a newcomer before he or she leaves.) In the welcoming congregation, old friends will understand the importance of making new friends and will wait to be addressed. Learn more about welcoming new visitors in our article: "Roll out the welcome mat this Christmas."
  2. Enlist parking attendants to serve that night and help manage the traffic. Newcomers will be especially unsure of where to park and how to get inside.
  3. Remember to schedule ushers and greeters to serve on Christmas Eve.
  4. Schedule childcare helpers! Remember to mention childcare in your publicity and your evening worship program.
  5. If your church office closes early for the holiday, ask some loyal volunteers to answer the phones that afternoon and evening. People without a church home may decide at the last minute to get out to worship that night.

Think about the New Year
What will your congregation have to offer in the New Year? People commonly make New Year's resolutions. Why can't a church? Resolve to be a more open congregation in the New Year by considering these options:

  1. Offer free exercise classes to help people work off holiday pounds.
  2. Teach a money management class that helps people learn biblical principles for handling their finances.
  3. Run a refresher course of Welcoming 101 and Inviting 101 (Igniting Ministry Planning Kit Appendix A.1 and A.17) for your adult education classes or small groups to remind everyone of the need to reach out. Or start a group to study Beyond 30 Seconds: Developing a Welcoming Congregation together.
  4. Begin a new class or small group for newcomers interested in learning more about the church, Christianity and each other.
  5. Pull your youth together to provide free childcare for a "parents' night out" service to the congregation and the community.

Remember to publicize your outwardly focused events through your local media and in your Christmas Eve worship program (take advantage of the big crowds that night to get the message out). People need to know what you have to offer before they can get involved.