Christmas is coming!
This fact means you're probably reacting in one of two ways.
1) You're rushing to find your favorite Christmas album or playlist so you can be ready to get in the Christmas spirit,
2) You're already getting anxiety over how stressful the Christmas season will be…
We can all agree that Christmas provides us a unique opportunity for the church to connect and engage our congregation and our local community.
Do you know what it will involve to reach more people this year at Christmas? It takes a plan.
Unfortunately, the typical church I talk with doesn't start thinking about their Christmas plans until they get back in the office after Thanksgiving.
That leaves little time to strategically communicate how people can worship with you at Christmas.
If you want to create a great promotional plan and it needs to be done at a moments notice, it won't be cheap. If you have no budget and need to turn around your promotional plan fast, you're probably not going to be happy with the results.
Don't have a huge budget or communications leader on staff? That doesn't mean you don't have the ability to be intentional this year about promoting Christmas to your congregation and community. It just means you need to be all the more planned out and strategic.
Some of the most successful promotional efforts I've executed with my church have been on less than $500. You can get further with a strategic plan on little or no budget than others might get with thousands.
10 Free or Inexpensive Ideas to Promote Christmas at Your Church
1.) Establish your elevator pitch
Why should someone come to your Christmas service this year? If you had 15 seconds to answer that question for someone that was on the fence, how would you answer it?
Come up with a simple and clear elevator pitch for why someone should come to Christmas this year. Try out the elevator pitch on a few people who will give you honest feedback, and make adjustments till you land on something that is effective. Once you land on your elevator pitch, you now have the foundation of how you can communicate Christmas at your church through stage announcements, bulletins, social media and everything else you may use.
2.) Create an engaging graphic
Approximately 65 percent of people are visual learners. That means that the visuals you use to communicate what's happening at your church for Christmas are critical!
Don't wait till the last minute to develop your Christmas graphics. Knock it out early so that you can have consistent visuals across all of your communication channels.
3.) Communicate a compelling vision to your congregation for inviting their friends
The people in your church want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Empower them with a compelling vision and goal that they can be part of. Don't just settle for sharing your vision. Invite them into your vision through Christmas this year. Give them a clear call to action and share with them how they can be part of making it happen.
At West Ridge Church where I serve, we share that over 87 percent of our community is not connected to a church anywhere, but the overwhelming majority of people will come if someone simply invites them.
That provides a huge opportunity for us as a church to play a part in the life change that can happen in our community!
4.) Share a story
One of the most powerful resources you have in your church is the testimony of a changed life. Have someone in your church who gave their life to Christ during a Christmas service in the past? Know of someone who was invited by a friend and came for the first time at Christmas?
Share those stories with your church! These can be through a testimony video, a social media post with a photo of the person, or someone sharing briefly in a service. These stories may be the most memorable thing you do to help share the vision of why Christmas matters for your church!
Use the power of social media
Our culture has become a sharing culture. Through social media, we have an network of friends and family that we can share with at the click of a button. Because of this, social media has become a game-changer in marketing, and can help your message spread further, faster.
5.) Give your audience a simple call to action.
Make it easy for them to get the word out about what's happening through Christmas this year through social media. Some practical ways you can do this are:
Ask people to share/re-tweet/repost your social media posts.
When you create a post, don't just give the information that "insiders" would need to know to participate. Include information that makes it beneficial to the audience that may be exposed to your post through a friend sharing it.
At the end of the Christmas services, encourage people to share about their experience with their friends.
Last year, after the first service, we asked people to share their experience with their friends on social media and were blown away with how many people came for the first time later in the day after seeing what their friends posted!
6.) Equip your audience with a tool to start a conversation
Yard signs, invite cards, door hangers, and social media posts can all resource your audience to engage their friends and family. It's not the tool that makes this effective. It's the conversation your audience has that makes this powerful. You're just providing the information they need to help them take their next step.
One of the most successful things we've done at our church is creating 3x3 invite cards that has the logo and service times on one side, along with a map and address on the back side. We had everyone a few of these on their way out of the service and encourage everyone to invite someone with those cards over the next week.
7.) Create a music video
Have a strong worship ministry at your church? Work with them to create a music video of a Christmas song and tag on the service times for Christmas at the end. By doing this at our church, we saw the two Christmas music videos get over 20,000 views through our communication channels. Ex: https://vimeo.com/114248822
8.) Make your content easy to share
Our greatest influencer on what we watch, read, attend, or participate in is the recommendation of friends and family.
Remove barriers from the process of making your content easy to share. Add share buttons on your website so that people can share the information on their social media platforms or by email. Make your tweets shorter so that people can re-tweet and add comments to their post. It's not just about communicating to the insiders in your church. It's about creating content that the insiders in your church can share with their connections.
9.) Build momentum
Create awareness and excitement on the days leading up to your Christmas service by doing a countdown on social media. You can share behind the scenes photos of how you as a church are preparing, or glimpses of what they'll experience as a church. If you need a free resource for creating these graphics, check outcanva.com.
10.) Setup homepage with resources for guests
Make sure that your website has clear information on the who, what, when, where, how and why for Christmas services. Show the website to someone who doesn't go to your church and see if it give them the information they would need to visit your church for the first time at Christmas.