Christmas season is often joyful for everyone except pastors and their church staff.
Not that you don’t love the story of Christ’s birth and who you get to share it with. But while everyone else is singing carols and buying car-fulls of Christmas gifts as their house fills with the warming smell of sugar cookies, you are frantically trying to plan a Christmas service your church will enjoy.
While also not vandalizing the integrity of the nativity story, or softening the truth of who Jesus is and why He came down to earth.
And trying not to get caught up in the pageantry of the Christmas season.
And trying to please everyone and their grandmother.
Don’t implode just yet. We just want you to know that we understand.
Most of our Church Fuel family members have led a church through the Christmas planning hail storm or are currently serving in a volunteer role with their sleeves rolled up, working to ensure this year’s Christmas services are the best yet.
Emotions and outside pressure aside, the Christmas planning season can absolutely drain you of all energy and mental capacity. Planning Christmas demands that you make multiple plans that work in unison to make the whole thing run smoothly.
So, you’re not planning one thing. You’re planning multiple things that have to fit together and feed into each other.
In reality, multitasking is a recipe for disaster and failure. Your brain can legitimately focus on one thing at a time. Introduce one more thing, and the quality of your planning starts to plummet.
To bring everything into perspective and help you plan the right things at the right time, we wanted to give you four plans to have for Christmas.
Read through each plan and use the resources we mention throughout. When you focus on one thing at a time, you’ll be able to plan the best Christmas your church has yet to experience.
#1 – Sermon Series Plan
It’s tempting to phone in this part of your Christmas plan. It’s a story you’ve heard and told plenty of times before.
But it deserves close attention to details every single year. Revisit the nativity story. Reflect on this past year’s struggles and how Christ’s birth can speak hope into the present moment.
Make a well thought out decision on what your three T’s are going to be.
- What’s your tone?
- What’s your topic?
- What’s your timeline?
Our friend Stephen Brewster gave us incredible insight when he told us, “The trend is nostalgic more than traditional, but avoiding the word ‘home’ as much as possible.” When you go through the three T’s, prioritize creating a feeling of nostalgia in your congregation.
They want to be somewhere familiar this Christmas as long as it isn’t home.
Consistency in all three T’s will have a crucial impact on your message to the congregation and the ease with which you can plan the remaining pieces of your Christmas services.
#2 – Content Plan
Your sermon series plan covers what you say and what your congregation is going to HEAR.
What about what they CONSUME?
What are they going to engage with if they tune in online? What are they going to interact with when they’re with you in person? What resources will you give them to work through at home on their own, or at least in community groups?
This is where the content plan comes in.
Christmas is the prime opportunity to give your congregation and visitors resources that help them tap into the Nativity story’s power on a deeper level. And you don’t have to create these resources from scratch.
For great content, you can share:
- The Village Church Advent Guide
- The Austin Stone Advent Guide
- Community outreach and service opportunities
Beyond the content that you bring in to share with your community, use tools like Facebook and Instagram to encourage your congregants to be content creators.
Visit our Church Fuel Instagram profile to share swipe files we’ve made covering how to celebrate this Christmas creatively. Issue a challenge in your weekly bulletin for families to list their top give Christmas activities and share it to your Facebook page.
Give your people content to consume and content to create.
After you’ve shared your message, your people can walk through the rest of the week, equipped to dive deeper into the story of our Savior’s birth.
#3 – Outreach Plan
You know what you are going to say and what you are equipping your people with.
But how are you going to get new people to visit your church during the Christmas season? People in your community are likely to come during specific holidays, which will be no different this year.
Get creative and strategic with your outreach plan. Create ways for new people to discover your church and strategize how to engage with you leading up to walking in your doors on Christmas Eve.
A few effective and innovative outreach tactics we have seen include:
- Postcards with a QR code for people to scan
- Adding “New Here” information to social distancing information
- Creating a welcome video to watch before coming to a service
Christmas is one of the most significant inviting opportunities of the year. That hasn’t changed. Leverage new technology to provide more meaningful outreach and invitations.
#4 – Giving Plan
Even in the secular world, Christmas is a season of giving. And in the church world, every season is a delicate season to talk about giving money. Pre-covid or post-covid, that will always be true.
Find a way to be insightful and thoughtful in presenting the opportunity to give to your church.
Draw out why you need resources heading into the new year and how a financial gift to your church will be used.
Follow the example of highly successful giving campaigns like North Point’s “BE RICH.” One huge reason this annual giving series has created so many resources through the church is its focus on the outside world.
Andy Stanley leads the church in emphasizing the need to give into the surrounding community. The campaign isn’t about the church budget or a building project; it’s 100% focused on community and global outreach. It’s a message that resonates with people.
Take our Giving Course for more insanely practical advice on presenting giving to your church.
You don’t have to feel uncomfortable asking people to give. But you do need to feel confident, and your message needs to be precise.
Focus on these four plans while mapping out your church’s Christmas season for this year. Instead of sporadically planning everything at once and recycling most of what you did in years prior, you can develop a cohesive strategy that will profoundly impact everyone who interacts with it.
And for the first time in a long time, you’ll be able to effortlessly feel joy throughout the Christmas season instead of desperately fighting for it.