Do you hear that? It’s September and I can already hear the jingle bells in the distance. With Christmas on the horizon, here’s a look at the planning process at our church and ideas you can implement when planning Christmas this year.
1. It starts in January.
After our staff returns from holiday break, we review what went well, what didn’t, and what was missing from our Christmas services. Often, our Lead Pastor will have an idea in his mind for the coming year’s Christmas series. I save these notes in Evernote so I can bring them back around when Christmas planning begins.
2. Gather ideas through the year.
I save articles and ideas to Evernote all throughout the year as I come across them. Church Marketing Sucks has oodles of useful articles related to Christmas Eve and planning.
3. Schedule a meeting in September.
In early September, I schedule a Christmas planning meeting with our Lead Pastor, Worship Pastor, and Executive Pastor. We review the Christmas sermon series, nail down location and service times for Christmas Eve and begin brainstorming ideas for the Christmas Eve service. Depending on the size of your church and what you want to accomplish for your Christmas series, you may want to have that meeting earlier than September. But for us, September works.
After this smaller meeting, we will bring up the plan to all staff during a weekly staff meeting for feedback and additional creative ideas.
4. Create a plan.
After those meetings, I begin crafting a plan in Asana. This outlines the tasks I’ll need to accomplish based on the ideas we discussed for the services. This plan covers everything from Christmas Eve graphics, social media, promotional materials, and creative service elements. It helps me stay on track during the busy season.
5. Work the plan.
Once the details are set and the plan is made, we’re off and running. We begin hard promotion for Christmas the week after Thanksgiving. We will do teaser posts on social media and light promotion the week of Thanksgiving as people begin to get into the Christmas spirit. Promotional and creative elements are determined by the series messaging and the theme of the Christmas Eve services.
For example, one year we made it a big event with horse-drawn carriage rides and family photos before the service. We did a larger outside marketing push that year with radio ads and mailers. We’ve done a simpler, traditional service and emphasized personal invitations to family and friends. We created social media graphics and invite cards so our people would have tools when inviting their guests.
Christmas is by far my favorite time of year to work at a church. It’s also one of the busiest. As church communicators, it’s important to stay focused on why we are celebrating and not lose focus by checking our to-do list twice. This means giving yourself margin for prayer and time with the Lord – another reason planning ahead is important!
What about you? How do you plan for Christmas at your church?