calendar December 8, 2022 in Congregations, Vitality

Is Your Church Ready for Christmas Eve?

Ask any of my previous interns, I am extreme nut when it comes to getting things ready for Christmas Eve. But for me, it’s the excitement of drawing so many people to hear the Good News that is at the heart of our faith – that God chose to dwell with us. The power of this particular story to draw all kinds of people into our doors on Christmas Eve still is a clear sign of the Spirit at work in our world.

I know this is a busy time, and the last thing you need is more things added to your to do list, but below are what I hope some helpful considerations to help you make this Christmas Eve a vital part of your growing ministry.

  1. Make sure your website reflects your current year’s schedule for Christmas Eve services. Make sure to include information like where to park and how to access via public transportation.
  2. Prepare for worshippers who have never been in your building. Think about signage and is it obvious what door to enter for the worship service. In the building are the bathrooms / nursery clearly marked even if it means putting up temporary signs. Luminaries might be a neat way to invite folks to the entrance.
  3. Train up ushers and greeters with what to say to folks who they may not recognize so that folks feel welcomed into the worship space as part of the whole community. Make sure they are ready to welcome folks as they are – don’t make assumptions about families or who came with who, especially on Christmas Eve.
  4. Be ready for worshipers to leave contact information – make sure guest books have spots, visitor cards in the pew backs (and mention filling them out during worship – it’s a great way to update everybody’s contact information if you all fill them out). You have about 5 minutes as people exit the sanctuary and you can’t get to them all – so have a plan to capture as many ways to create relationships as possible – and don’t forget the online community.
  5. Include extra instructions in the bulletin for Christmas eve. Those who are used to Lutheran liturgical aerobics know when to stand, sit, kneel, but for someone unchurched or who has been watching online – they may not know when the assembly stands or sits. Or even what a Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus is for that matter.
  6. Make sure there is a “next step” as part of the announcements – what are you inviting people to participate in next that might happen in January – MLK Day of service is a great one.
  7. Ask people to donate to the church. We give all kinds of gifts at Christmas, why not ask for an extra financial gift to the church from those who are able.
  8. Have a plan to follow up with visitors. And I am not saying Christmas Day, but in the new year, how are your congregation members going to reach out to those that left contact information about ways they can become part of the church community. Notice I said, congregation members, in addition to the pastor, they are a key component of visitor follow up.
  9. Remember that it’s about Jesus. We live in an ever increasingly secular age and our folks have seen countless images of Santa and consumerism over the last few weeks. They come to church to see Jesus and hear the story of Jesus on Christmas Eve. I know I used to get all worked up about having the best sermon for Christmas Eve, so remember the simplicity of just remembering to show them Jesus. Beautiful, vulnerable, sweet baby Jesus.
  10. Christmas comes if we are ready or not. And maybe the unready part is part of the point of Christmas. So no matter how far you made it down the to-do list this year, Jesus comes for you too.

Finally, know that we are praying for you and your congregations this Christmas. You have the extraordinary job of showing people Jesus this Christmas. Jesus that looks like peace, hope, love and joy. Christmas means God is with us, love has come to dwell with us, and with Jesus all things are possible even in the face of what seems like impossible odds right now.

Pastor Bryan

Co- Director of Evangelical Mission