It is time to start preparing your church for Christmas Eve guests!
This is part 4 of the series, “Christmas Eve Worship Planning 2018” Feel free to start here. Or, go back to the beginning of the series.
Just imagine that you have planned a big party at your house. You have invited all your family, your friends, and your co-workers. It is the biggest party you have ever thrown at your home. The invitations are out, the RSVPs are in, and suddenly you realize it’s almost time for the party. If you are like me, the next step is: panic.
But there is no need to panic; there is still plenty of time to get ready for your guests.
The focus of this blog is technology, so that will be my focus. First, however, let’s talk about some of the other things you can do to be ready for your guests.
Preparing for Christmas Eve Guests: Clean
Seriously, clean your church before Christmas Eve.
When I am inviting special guests to my house, I clean like I am trying to remove all the DNA. Then, my wife tells me to do it again. We should do the same for our church. I have a great, free, low-tech tip for you. Find a friend who doesn’t go to your church. A really honest friend and a friend whose home is so clean that you wonder if anyone lives there. Have that friend come and look at your church and point out where it doesn’t look clean. When we worship in the same place every week, we stop seeing the things that look bad (and stop smelling things that smell bad.)
The look and smell of your church make a massive instant impression on first-time guests. It is not always an impression that people can name but it gets in their brains, and it is hard to change. The perfect music, sermon, and hospitality could be overshadowed by an impression of a dirty church.
Preparing for Christmas Eve Guests: Remove
As part of cleaning, you may realize that some cleanout is necessary. Sometimes we fail to notice that there is a broken pew in the corner that has been there for a year. Or, maybe there is a donation box in the lobby that has been there since last year’s food drive. For churches with pews, it is not uncommon to find order forms for last year’s Easter lily sale.
I am often amazed by the things that I see sitting around in church sanctuaries and lobbies. The people who attend weekly just don’t see them anymore. The impression these things make on guests is unfortunate.
Preparing for Christmas Eve Guests: Repair & Paint
You may also even notice that some repair is in order. Remember how the narthex used to be white? Do you notice it is now yellow? Paint is a beautiful thing. Did anyone ever fix that entry door or do you still have a “do not enter” sign up? Were those broken tiles in the hall ever repaired? You may be surprised at the amount of deferred maintenance you have when you start looking around.
Have a serious look at your restrooms. Not to be harsh but some church restrooms are a wreck. No amount of cleaning is going to fix peeling linoleum on the counters, broken cabinet doors, or toilets that have been out of order since the 80s.
Preparing for Christmas Eve Guests: Update Your Signage
It might be too late to completely redo the internal and external signage at your church in time for Christmas. But, there are some things you can do.
First walk around and rip down all the handwritten signs, the signs so old the paper has yellowed, the signs that are not relevant anymore, the signs printed in comic sans, the signs that don’t make sense, and the signs that are just not welcoming to guests.
Now that you have likely removed a lot of signs feel free to create some temporary signage. I’m not a fan of signs printed on regular paper and taped up but if that is all you have time and resources for, just make them look as professional as possible.
Here is how:
- Choose a serious, professional font – If you don’t know anything about fonts, use a free service like Canva to design your sign. They have some great templates and recommended fonts.
- Use positive, professional language – If you absolutely can’t have any food or liquid in your sanctuary, instead of “No food or drink in the sanctuary!” how about “For the comfort of all our guests, please enjoy your food or drink before entering the sanctuary.”
- Don’t use clip art – Because it is 2018.
- Hang the signs straight – Yes. I have to write that.
Now, let’s get to the tech stuff.
Preparing for Christmas Eve Guests: Website
You may think your church’s front door is where your greeters stand, but it is actually much further away. Most people who visit your church for the first time on Christmas Eve will have visited your church’s website first.
Every year at Christmas time, I make it a point to visit church websites to see if they mention Christmas. As December rolls around, your church website needs to begin to focus on Christmas. If someone is invited to Christmas Eve worship at your church and they visit your church’s website first, will Christmas Eve worship times be the first thing they see? What will be their impression if Christmas Eve service times aren’t listed at all?
Some churches completely replace their website home page with information about Christmas services. Others create landing pages or microsites devoted to Christmas. On their promotional pieces, they list the address of the Christmas page like www.mychurch.org/christmas or even www.christmasatmychurch.org.
For inspiration and examples, check out:
This may sound like a silly question but, can people in your church hear the sermon? How about the music? This is a perfect time to check out your audio equipment. Are all the speakers working? Do the microphones work all the time? Is there a mysterious hum during the sermon? Do you have plenty of batteries? Is your best sound person working on Christmas Eve? If you have any special music and it needs to be amplified, do you have everything you need? Run some tests and get things fixed before your guests arrive. Because, if they can’t hear, you may never see them again.
Your church may not use video projection of any sort. But, if you do, make sure it makes the right impression. How old is that bulb in your projector? Is the projector itself bright enough for people to see? Who is making the slides for Christmas Eve? Who will be running them? Does the computer that runs the slides occasionally shut down during service?
This is not, at all, a complete list. Every church is different and has some different things to think about. I hope these might get you thinking about what you need to do at your church to get ready for those special guests. Feel free to share some of the things on your preparation list in the comments.