There is still time.
I remember being a pastor at a local church. Planning ahead was always the goal. But, things come up. Pastoral emergencies, facilities issues, and other crises pop up pushing planning down the list.
Now it is December. Maybe you glanced at my series, “Is it too early to start planning for Christmas? Or is it too late?” You might have had some moments of creativity that were going to make this the best Christmas Eve ever. But then, things came up.
Don’t panic. There is still time to do some things. Pulling some ideas from my Christmas series, here are six things you can still do get be ready for Christmas Eve.
#1 Schedule your after-Christmas debrief.
Okay, so this won’t help you this year, but it will help ensure that you are able to do an even better job next year. Pick a date in January, invite everyone involved in Christmas Eve worship and ask questions like, “What went well?” “What could have gone better?” “What are we going to do again?” “What are we going to do differently?” and “When do we need to meet again to start planning?”
Write it all down, and you will already have a head start on next year.
#2 Plan for after Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, when you will likely have more guests than any other time of the year, you want to give them a reason to come back. You should have a sermon series ready to go that you can announce. For lectionary preachers, you should at least be able to explain where the lectionary will be taking you in the coming weeks.
Need help? Discipleship Ministries has even put together an after Christmas sermon series package for you. “Hello God? We’ve Got Questions!” You can download the entire package including sermon outlines, a promo video, graphics and more.
#3 Remind your people to invite their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
In part three of my Christmas series, I described some resources you could prepare to aid that effort. It may be getting a little late to order resources (though you can still try,) but it is not too late to remind your people that a personal invitation is the most powerful way to get people to come on Christmas Eve.
#4 Make sure your Christmas Eve worship times are front and center on your website.
There will be people in your community looking for a place to go on Christmas Eve. They might even stumble on your website. Don’t make them search for Christmas Eve times. If someone is on your church’s website for the first time in December, they are likely looking for Christmas Eve worship times. Let that be the first thing they see.
#5 Read Discipleship Ministries’ “Christmas Eve Hospitality: Twelve Ways to Welcome.”
In fact, share it with everyone who will be involved in Christmas Eve worship: staff, volunteers, greeters, ushers, musicians, sound techs, everyone. Read it here.
#6 Decide on at least one way you will follow up with your visitors.
In the Christmas series, I shared a number of tips on following up with Christmas Eve visitors. If it is too late for that kind of planning, just plan one thing. Decide you will call them, or email them, or send them a letter. Choose one way that you will reach out to those guests to thank them for coming and invite them back again.
One more thing. It is not on the list since I tend to stick to the technical stuff and figure people know about all the other important details, but this one is important: Pray. Pray for your services, pray for your staff and volunteers, pray for yourself, and most importantly, pray for all those who might come to your church seeking hope in the midst of darkness.