Despite the commerce, the birth of Christ and the surrounding narrative is still very much at the heart of Christmas. The beautiful music of a carol service, the lessons, a nativity scene or re-enactment. People who wouldn’t normally want to come to your events.
Helping people to connect is always a challenge. For certain put up posters, drop leaflets through doors, put up a banner outside if you can and ensure the key dates are in the local paper. However this is 2016 and digital needs as much attention – many people will just go online as their first instinct.
Add Christmas to your Menu
Make it as simple as possible to find all the information someone might need on one page. If you have the space in the menu bar call it Christmas 2016 (or at least in the page) as you’ll be amazed how many church websites are out of date and display last year’s information.
Include all the things a guest needs to know
- Dates and Times (make it easy, eg. Sunday December 18th at 3pm)
- Mince Pies, Mulled Wine, Tea, Coffee & Biscuits (don’t under-estimate how important these are)
- Start and End Times (perhaps saying ‘people normally arrive from 10am for our 10:30am service)
- What to wear? (many people haven’t been to church in a while, they don’t know how formal/informal you are)
- Anything else to know, eg. ‘the Carol Service on Friday is very popular, please arrive early’ ‘there is a parking lot behind the church’
Highlight anything that is perhaps a bit special
- Christingle – real candles in oranges
- Christmas Day is a family services where the children bring some of their presents
- Carol Service where you are welcome to join the descants
Be as relaxed and inviting as you already are, so focus on making it comforting. However don’t forget to allow a little excitement through. Just saying ‘Special Mass on 25th December 2016 at 9am’ is dry. Try adding ‘Celebrating the story of Christ’s birth in a child-friendly service.’
Set the scene with images from last year. From the vicar in a Santa hat to a beautiful Nativity; a choir or everyone in fancy dress. This helps to break down the barriers of knowing what someone will experience. That could include a photo of someone eating a mince pie while talking to other people, aka a normal situation where you can also see what people wear.
A couple nice images help to break down the barriers of uncertainty (what actually is going to happen in there?) and remove excuses to not go; while adding reasons to go – it looks like fun/ beautiful/ etc.
Homepage & Calendars
Having a menu item is helpful, but linking directly from your homepage with a nice graphic will make it even easier to find the right information. Front-and-centre ‘Christmas 2016′
Of course if you have an events calendar fill it out as early as you can and keep it up to date. These will have a strong chance of showing up in Google (and other search engines) as they are particularly topical/ up to date content.
Not all events need to be yours, eg. why not include the Christmas Bazaar at the local school, or something happening in your hall which is Christmas-related. This is another change to bring people through the doors and welcome them.
No need to be especially fancy here, but just make sure you put out the dates for the services as soon as possible, especially ones like the Carol Service.
If you can, add a photo to each and a tiny explanation, linking to your Christmas 2016 page on the site with more information. Maybe even invite people to add their own photos from last year?