Guest: Stephen Brewster
Stephen is a creative leader. He worked in the music business for years, finding artists, developing albums, and leading marketing teams. He then moved into church leadership, serving not just as a lead over creative but also on the executive level of multiple mega-churches across the country.
Stephen and his wife Jackie started The Harmony Group – an organization that helps worship teams navigating the music business, churches to develop leadership and creative structures for growth and culture development, as well as intensive Enneagram coaching. Stephen hosts several podcasts, generates ideas for new endeavors, coaches creatives, and hangs out in downtown Franklin, TN, where the Brewster family of six calls home.
PLANNING CHRISTMAS CAN BE REFRESHING
It is entirely natural for everybody in your church, including you, to crave the sight of a finish line.
Especially this year.
COVID, Presidential Election, cancel culture, murder hornets, the bachelorette, and many other things have exhausted our attention and drained our emotional energy.
That’s likely why radio stations started playing Christmas music as far back as August! We all need something to look forward to that isn’t wrought with fear and consequence.
Even though planning your church’s Christmas services and events will be different than years prior, it can still be a source of joy and emotional recharge as you cap this wild year off. Don’t let Christmas be just another task on your to-do list or source of anxiety.
Let it be refreshing for you and your church.
CELEBRATING IN-PERSON AND ONLINE
Once all of the votes are counted and election results are in, the noise will not stop. If anything, the volume will go up.
It’s not out of the realm of reality to have started communicating your church’s Christmas plans in October. Whether you have or have not, it is crucial to start sharing what your church is doing for Christmas and how you will be doing it.
Especially in a year where you need to be communicating two distinctly different Christmas experiences:
The live experience
The broadcast experience
You can’t unwind many of the digital practices your church has adopted over the past nine months because it is Christmas time. Recent data shows as much as 80% of churchgoers still opting out of in-person services and tuning into services on their phones or laptop instead.
People want content that is on-demand and accessible.
So it is crucial to quickly communicate that your church will be hosting in-person church events and online church events for those who are still prioritizing social distancing or just want to make visiting family feel comfortable.
For the in-person services, including the procedures, your church will be following when December rolls around, and it’s time to celebrate the birth of Christ together.
Our blog post Don’t Make These 8 Reopening Mistakes is a great reference point for what not to do.
For the broadcast experience, make sure it’s clear where people need to watch online and that you have the right equipment and set up to stream an online Christmas experience.
WHAT ARE OTHER TOOLS YOU CAN USE?
If you’re a regular-sized church or a one-person operation, conducting both in-person services and online services sounds intimidating.
Or seems flat out impossible.
But there is so much freedom in at least trying it. During the conversation with Stephen, our founder Michael went as far as to say, “If it sucks, blame COVID!”
There are straightforward, affordable ways to create quality digital Christmas experiences for your church. All of the influencers and celebrities make it seem like you need thousands of dollars of camera equipment and production staff to create fantastic videos that people love.
For $15, you can order an iPhone tripod off Amazon, film yourself sharing a Christmas message, and stream that on your church’s Facebook page.
You can use tools like Instagram Reels to promote both service options. No editing software is needed. Directly from your phone, you can create clear communication around your church’s Christmas services and digital streams.
HOW ELSE CAN WE ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE THIS CHRISTMAS?
Every year in ministry before this, Christmas planning for your church was as simple as doing what it did last year with a few things changed or updated. And that was okay! Most churches have followed certain traditions and plans for a long time without ever having a reason to change.
This year is your reason to make changes to your church’s traditional Christmas plans.
Do a few simple things that can have a massive impact on your community and for the kingdom.
Avoiding the word home as much as possible.
People are so sick of home that they just want to get out, or at least feel a semblance of escape.
Entice people to come to your Christmas service, or tune in online by setting it apart from home. Transport people from the worries of this year into the joys of what Christmas is — a celebration, an eternal hope, a reason to dance in a time of mourning.
Share stories from your community.
Almost every year, there is some Christmas time, a significant moment that hundreds of churches aim for. A couple of years ago, it was the Little Drummer Boy moment.
What if this year you made your church’s “big moment” about the community and not the church?
Film people telling stories about how they have been helped or how God has shown up throughout this year full of crisis and need.
Call people to say Merry Christmas.
This may be the one thing your church can do that doesn’t have to be scaled or innovated year after year.
Have your friendliest volunteers come to the church once or twice a week during the Christmas season to call people from your church just to say Merry Christmas.
Let them know you know it’s been a tough year. Let them know you are thinking about them.
There are so many ways that you can reach people in your church and your community this season.
Read a few more ways in our 4 Plans You Need This Christmas blog or listen to our entire conversation with Stephen Brewster here.
When the time comes to follow up with new guests at your Christmas services or who watch your online service, check out our Follow Up Course for insanely practical help bringing in new members to your church through effective follow-up.
Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode HERE.
Quotes from Episode 2.4
“I don't think the days of just putting a camera in the auditorium and someone speaking from a stage or singing from a stage is the solution anymore. All of the data shows us what we've already known. 80% of the people are watching here (their phone). And so what are we doing to make sure that our Christmas experiences are crafted in a way that we can invite our community to tune in to this awesome moment and watch it on their TV or watch it on their phone.” – Stephen Brewster
“And so any calls to action that you have need to be on a scroll that goes across the bottom of the screen. If we watch CNN or Fox news or ESPN, if you watch MSNBC, you can almost not see the anchor. Cause there's so many things around them, right? And so why are we not borrowing from this proven technology?.” – Stephen Brewster
“People are going to be distracted, so we might as well distract them with our own stuff.” – Michael Lukaszewski
“We need some really encouraging moments in our life. And, and I think that churches that are going to win Christmas this year are the churches that are going to find ways to serve their community. And then tell that story better than they've ever told it before.” – Stephen Brewster
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