Growing Your Church in the Covid Christmas Season

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Note: This blog is a summary of a webinar Pastor Jason conducted on November 18. To watch the full webinar replay, click the link at the end of this article.

I’m super excited to be sharing with you how you can grow your church in this Covid Christmas season. Obviously this Christmas is much different and we are excited to be working with pastors and ministry leaders on how to impact their communities in ways that honor God during this time.

Today, we are really focusing on what it means to be the church during this Christmas season – in particular, with COVID and all that is related to that. It can be a challenging time so we need to be innovative and creative and collaborative and really think and pray through how we are approaching ministry. But I believe, no, I know we can make a huge impact this season.

First, there are three primary thoughts, really foundational, that I want to give you and encourage you to share these with your leadership team:

First, there are three primary thoughts, really foundational, that I want to give you and encourage you to share these with your leadership team:

1. People are Looking for A Sense of Normalcy This Season

Even outside the church world, people want to get back to normal and they are looking at Christmas to be an anchor in the chaos. So people want time-tested traditions – a sense of normal.

2. The Role of the Local Church in God’s Mission Has Not Changed at All

We are still called to be the hands and feet of Jesus and light in our communities. We need to remember that churches in other areas are suffering worse persecution and that God’s Church has historically served in loving ways in the midst of chaos.  And no matter where we find ourselves or what condition we find ourselves in, we are still on mission for God. We need to keep that in front of us.

3. Christmas Presents an Incredible Opportunity to Build Bridges - Think Like a Missionary

I speak with a lot of pastors and denominational leaders, church network leaders and a lot of local pastors and what we see is that those churches that are really continuing to make a missional impact, that are seeing people come to Christ, that are celebrating baptisms, those are the churches that are making a missional impact. They are thinking “what are the things in our present culture that we can build bridges with to have these spiritual conversations?”

And Christmas is a perfect season to build bridges. There are aspects to Christmas that our culture recognizes that may not be about the birth of Jesus, but give us an opportunity to connect with people through a common language. These can help us build those bridges and then point others to Jesus.

Those churches that are thriving and growing in the pandemic are those that are thinking like a missionary and asking “How can we reach people with the gospel this Christmas season?”

So let’s build on those foundational thoughts and work through five different ideas to really encourage growth this Christmas. Some of these ideas you can implement this week and some are more general, broad ideas to get your team thinking and praying in the right direction. Remember, time is short between now and the end of the year, so now is the time to take action. We have the opportunity to join God in his mission… we have the opportunity to really see growth.

5 Ideas to Encourage Growth this Christmas

Spend Time With Your Team

Spend 60 min with your team this week. But before you do, no matter what your team looks like,  ask them to pray for wisdom from God and ask what are the needs of your church, your community and how you as a church can uniquely connect and meet those needs. Ask them to think about these needs and what they are seeing, and what is going on in your town around Christmas. Have your team write down what God is saying, what needs they see, what events are going on, what they are praying for. Then gather together to discuss these thoughts, thinking like missionaries. How do we believe God is leading us to make connections during Christmas? This will make a huge impact this season and into Spring.

Connection is King

Content is no longer king – connection is. Connection has become one of the most important things your church can focus on. Content is still definitely important – sermons, worship, anything you put in front of others is still important. In the world we live in now people can jump online and watch any church – so solid content is still vital. 

We are finding that if there is no connection, then ministry is not happening as effectively. Churches that are thriving and  growing are prioritizing connection.  So how do you engage with people? Not just putting information out there for people to consume but how do you engage with them, connect with them.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. One free resource is the Free Advent Reading plan – go through this together online, families can do this together, you can post to social media. This Advent reading plan includes questions for reflection, scripture readings, daily devotions, all designed to help people focus on Jesus during this season. You can have people respond online to the questions and encourage engagement around the readings. In addition to the Reading Plan, there are also FREE coordinated social media graphics available through Outreach Social. The graphics can be used on your social media pages as reminders of the daily readings or to inspire your followers to follow along in the plan.
  2. Be Visible in Your Community – to make a connection you have to be visible especially in this time of uncertainty. There are people looking for hope and direction and to be a part of something in the community. With all the isolation, we need to let people know that we are there. Be sure to share any events and opportunities you are hosting, letting people know you want to connect with them. Get resources to help you communicate and connect and to help you be visible at Outreach.com – there are outdoor banners and invitations that you can use to spread the word.

Ask How You Can Help

Ask: How can we help our neighbors during this season? This is a very important question – ask it in a variety of ways. Shoot an email out and ask your congregation this question. And when we say neighbors, think about your physical neighbors who live on your street, in your apartment complex, down the block – how can we help them?

We talked earlier in the year about this and introduced some Neighboring tools that you can use to empower your members.  Tools like door hangers to reach out – give out  10 or 12 to your members and have them put them on the doors of the people in their area to let people know “We care. We are here,  let us know how we can help you.” This is a perfect time to encourage your people to serve their neighbors.

Equip Your Congregation with Invitations

Equip your people to invite others to your Christmas celebration – (28:24). It’s so simple but it often gets overlooked. It’s easy to get this idea mentally but not take action on it. As a pastor, you need to be thinking, “what does it mean to equip our people to invite others?”  You must help establish the expectation that “We are a church for others not just for ourselves – we are on mission to reach our community.” Remind your people that there are many people in your community who are far from God and He put your church in this place at this time to reach these people.How do we equip them? What do we put in their hands to help them be inviters?

Even if you are not having live, in-person ministry you can still invite people to join online. We have some FREE resources including 500 Engager Invitations
which are absolutely free –including free shipping– through our partnership with EncounterLife. This is the perfect tool to really equip your people to engage in spiritual conversations during the Christmas season.

You can put your church information on the back of these engagers and distribute them to your people so they can connect with others in your community.Again, think about how to equip your people to be inviters – this is so vital and it makes a big difference because it’s still true that a personal invitation from a friend is the most responded to invitation – it’s so important.

Innovate and Collaborate

Innovate and collaborate with your community outreach – You want to think creatively- look at the pandemic as an opportunity to lean in and be creative – join with other churches to make an impact.

Here are a handful of ideas that we are seeing churches doing around the country. 

  1. Guided at-home family event. A time to invite people to join you online for a particular event. I have seen churches inviting people to bake cutout cookies together and tell the nativity story at the same time. Or you might have different people share about significant gifts they have received at Christmas and then talk about the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. There are lots of ways to approach this and incorporate worship. Be creative and join people together.
  2. Drive through nativity. These are making a comeback during the pandemic. I have seen some areas where churches come together to create a progressive Drive Thru Nativity at several churches so no one church has to plan it all. And it’s powerful when we can partner with other churches and collaborate. More people are looking for safe activities to do with their families at Christmas and this fits that.
  3. Christmas cookie care baskets – Lots of churches are doing these care baskets and delivering them to teachers, first responders, healthcare workers. Be strategic as a church for delivering the cookies or ask families to bake the cookies, box them up and then deliver the cookies themselves. You can specifically plan out where each family will deliver their cookies or you can just let each family decide how to bless community workers around them. Be sure to include an invite to your services in each basket. 
  4. Drive in Christmas Eve – Many churches that cannot do a traditional Christmas Eve gathering are getting creative and planning a Drive Thru event with traditional worship music which people can drive in to enjoy. Many churches are also doing a Christmas lights display where people can drive in and enjoy the lights. Again it’s all about ways to connect with your community and sometimes we need to think outside the box a little bit.

When considering these outreach opportunities be sure to get connection tools so you can promote these events and spread the word around your town.

When it comes to your Christmas services, we also have the ReDiscover Christmas series. This is our Christmas church kit – it has 5 different sermons for the four weeks of Advent and Christmas Eve and there are all new videos and countdowns. Even if you don’t do the entire series, you can use the Christmas Eve resources for a powerful service that is so relevant for this time.

In this time, it’s easy to get down because of the restrictions and limit your activities and think that you can’t be effective at reaching out but we need to think like missionaries. We are here to support you so please reach out to our team online through our chat or give us a call at 800-991-6011.

To watch the full webinar – click here

As Vice President of Ministry Mobilization for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equippingchurches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. He also serves as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement and hosts the weekly ChurchLeaders podcast. Jason lives on Anastasia Island, Florida, with his beautiful wife and children. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram 

Jason Daye

Jason Daye