Christmas Visitors Hints
Let me share some ideas from myself and from what I have already observed from among the Total Ministry congregations about engaging new folks around the holidays. This happens to be one of the seasons when people are actively looking for a church to attend! They are looking for the deeper meaning of the season and you can assist with that! What you will want to do is (1) help to make it easier for them to find your church or your services, (2) welcome them graciously, and then (3) help them to find their way into coming back.
Here are some specific suggestions:
1. Be sure to let your neighborhood or community know the dates and times of your various holiday services. Do you have youth or people who like to walk who can distribute fliers throughout the neighborhood? One member at a planning meeting recently suggested encouraging church members to take their church invitations, write the information on their calendars, and then personally share the invitation with a friend, neighbor, or extended family member. This is a great idea because personal invitations work best! There are more ideas for reaching your neighboring community in this article by Carey Nieuwhof published by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.
2. Welcome those who come warmly and personally. Help them to find what they need in order to feel comfortable – where to park, what door to use, where the bathrooms are, and basic instructions for following and participating in the service. It is best to have people assigned to be greeters for this important task, but also remind the entire regular congregation ahead of time to be especially helpful too. At one congregation where I visited a member took the initiative to sit with me during worship!
3. It is easy to celebrate God’s presence during Christmas time, so be sure to do that fully! Also celebrate who you are in relationship with God too! Explain the Total Ministry model briefly for both members and visitors – in the bulletin or in the welcome announcement. It does not need to be detailed, but let everyone know that as a congregation you consciously make ongoing efforts to acknowledge the spiritual gifts and ministries of all persons. Be proud of who you are and what you have to offer those who seek a deeper relationship with God and service to the community! Invite others to join you.
4. Make an effort to find out who your visitors are! Many congregations “take attendance.” They might have a notebook in each pew and as part of an announcement every Sunday they ask that each person fill in their name and contact information and pass it down the row. Another option would be to have specific note cards in the bulletins or at each place for folks to print their names and contact information and more details about if they have specific needs, would like prayer, and/or might like to get involved in the church community in some way. Invite them to drop the cards in the collection basket as their offering. Then follow up on each of the responses that you receive! Have specific folks that will be in charge of this ongoing outreach. One member did this at her congregation and her efforts have been very fruitful!
I hope that you find these suggestions helpful!
May God bless you and your ongoing ministries during this season of the Incarnation!