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Your church is probably investing a significant amount of time and money in a Christmas Eve service. Staff members have been planning it for weeks, maybe months. You’ve emphatically asked your congregation to invite friends and families. Print ads and billboards may even be spreading the word. Yet despite all this effort in your church and others, I’m afraid that most Christmas Eve services are setup to fail. The reason?

More effort is made to get people to attend on Christmas Eve than to get them connected in 2016.

In many cases, teams put together an incredible service, engage a large number of new guests, and then close the church office for a week! Don’t get me wrong. I think church leaders deserve that week off with their families. But it does make it difficult to get people connected.

Remember last year’s Christmas Eve service. Did you see more people attend in January 2015 than you did in January 2014? If not, last year’s Christmas Eve service wasn’t as effective as you had hoped. Why will this year’s be any different?

When it comes to Christmas Eve, most churches have a vision but they don’t have a strategy to get people connected. It’s not too late to put one together. Here are 3 steps you can take in the next 10 days to connect Christmas Eve guests to your church in January:

1. Clearly invite people to your January series

Next month’s message series is the most immediate opportunity to reengage your guests. Don’t be shy about promoting it on Christmas Eve. “But won’t that take away from the message of Christmas?” The message of Christmas is that Jesus came to Earth to establish his Church and connect people to God through it. Being intentional about connecting people to your church is actually fulfilling the message of Christmas.

The best time to invite people back is near the end of the service after you have added value to their lives. Show them the problem your January series is going to solve. Do it tastefully but make it clear.

2. Schedule follow up communication with guests before and after your Christmas vacation

Don’t let your Christmas vacation keep you from getting people connected to your church. Here are three simple communication steps you can take:

Before you leave, send an email to each of your guests letting them know how much you appreciate them spending the holiday with your church. You might even schedule it to go out the next day as a Christmas greeting. Just be sure to personalize the message with their name using your database system or a mail merge in Microsoft Office.

Also before you leave, schedule another email for early January inviting them back to the next series. If they were interested in returning, they’ll be glad you reminded them.

When you return, call every guest and personally invite them to your January series. This is a great way for outgoing volunteers to use their gifts to serve.

3.  Encourage your congregation to invite their friends back in January

We always encourage our congregations to invite people to special events and services. But how often do we remind them to invite them back? Continue casting vision for the opportunity they have to impact their friends and families in the new year. Send them a special email and remind them from the stage in January.

If it isn’t obvious, I’m pretty passionate about seeing you connect people to your church. That is because I believe your church is a place where people can experience God and allow Him to change their lives. That cannot happen if they do not come back. You have an incredible opportunity this Christmas Eve. Take steps to develop your strategy and get people connected.

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Want to talk more about how to make your Christmas Eve service effective? I’m giving away 3 free coaching calls this week. If you’re interested, email me here.

photo courtesy of PittCaleb via compfight.com

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