What do you see at the front door? Or better, what don’t you see? Is it easy to find the entrance? Is it welcoming? Do this at night too – is it well lit?
Preparing for Guests
There will be a lot of people in most of our churches on Christmas Eve, and perhaps at special services in Advent and Epiphany. Certainly, some will be out of town family and friends. But just as certainly, some will be in-towners worshipping at Christmas and perhaps seeking, if only unconsciously, a church home.
How can your church be the best evangelist on Christmas Eve? Two ways come to mind for me. Perhaps you can suggest others to us in the comments section.
First, prepare a simple but attractive welcome flyer for Christmas Eve. It can be a card, ½ sheet of paper, or a full-sized piece of paper. Ideally though, a size that can be easily slipped into a coat pocket or purse is the best. Include the following information:
- The word “Welcome”
- Your church’s name, web address, street address and phone number, in that order.
- Your regular worship schedule including when a nursery is available.
- Your rector’s, or chief pastor’s, name.
- An action photo of people doing something. If this could highlight one of your major ministries, that would be helpful. A color photo is best if you can.
- A short bulleted list or simple sentence of who you are and what you do. Don’t be wordy!
Remember, keep it simple and bright. Put these in the pews, hand them out with the bulletin or stuff them into the bulletins. It could be a page in the bulletin, but you want to encourage people to take them home and so something more portable will work best.
Through the Eyes of a Visitor
The second way to be evangelists on Christmas Eve is to focus on hospitality. Look at your church through a first-time visitor’s eyes. Go outside and pretend you’re a guest. What do you see in the parking lot? What do you see at the front door? Or better, what don’t you see?
Is it easy to find the entrance? Is it welcoming? Do this at night too – is it well lit? Should you put some greeters outside the door or in the parking lot to help people find their way? Do you need extra greeters who can help people be seated or help others find the nursery or rest rooms?
What do you see, or not see, when you enter the door? Perhaps you could put a crèche or other symbol near the door. Perhaps some candles. Create a welcome and a spirit of the magic of Christmas.
Think about the bulletin from an un-churched person’s perspective. Is it understandable? Can they find the worship sections and the hymns? Do you need to add more page numbers? Does the Officiant need to be more specific than usual in guiding people through the service?
Put greeters at the door after the service also. Thank people for coming and wish them a blessed and happy Christmas. This would be a great time to hand out your welcome card because people no longer have an opportunity to leave it in the pew!
When I was a child, there was always an elderly gentleman at the door of the church at the end of the Christmas Even service. He gave each child a small brown paper bag. In it were a tangerine and some chocolate candy. I adored that bag, and to this day whenever I smell an orange I think of Christmas.
Carolyn Moomaw Chilton writes and blogs as a spiritual discipline and an invitation to conversation with others. She is currently on staff at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia as the Assistant for Evangelism and Stewardship.
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