Tag Archives: Religion

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4 little-known costs of church events

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Hosting events throughout the year is how many churches are able to expand their reach within communities. Church events allow a unique space for fellowship and a chance to share the Word of God outside of Sunday services.

From Vacation Bible School to marriage retreats to Christmas concerts to Easter celebrations, churches have plenty to plan. But while ministries are frequent event hosts, it’s rare to find one with a standard process for planning those events.

Often, it’s a “make it happen no matter what” mindset that can seem chaotic and rushed. In my experience, that combination leads to overspending money and overextending people.

If you think your church is falling into this expensive event planning trap, it’s good to identify how church dollars and resources are being spent. Here are four ways your church events are costing so much.

1. High Volunteer Turnover

High volunteer turnover is a potential sign that your church event planning process needs an overhaul. If you don’t have clear planning procedures in place, last-minute volunteer requests and changes will undoubtedly come up.

Though they may still offer to serve at an event, volunteers can become weary of the late requests and may stop serving altogether. Like anyone else, volunteers don’t appreciate chaos and a lack of clear direction.

When that happens, they can’t do their job well, leaving staff members frustrated and volunteers discouraged. When you lose volunteers, you’re losing your ability to run events effectively and within budget.

2. Church Staff Burnout

A lack of advanced planning, especially for bigger, more complex events, will require church staff to put in extra hours in the weeks leading up to the event. If this happens once or twice a year, it may not have much of an impact.

However, if this is the norm for your church’s events, you’ll end up with staff members who dread the next one — and families who resent the church for taking away their spouse or parent so much. The result of this is staff burnout, which may lead to staff members leaving or at a minimum, having a hard time staying engaged in their roles.

3. Last-Minute Spending Habits

Church budgets tend to be tight and most ministry leaders seek to be excellent stewards of the financial resources entrusted to them. However, when events aren’t planned ahead of time, you’re likely to run into additional costs that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

With last-minute planning comes rush fees for shipping and vendors who charge extra for quicker turnarounds. This could also lead staff members to buy items pre-made that would have been cheaper to make or pay more for items because there’s no time to shop for better deals.

4. Congregational Overwhelm

Does your church do too much? Though the intentions are good, sometimes churches take on a little more than they can handle with the hopes of reaching more people.

In reality, if a church hosts too many events within a short period of time it can overwhelm the congregation. With so many events come myriad announcements and requests for them to participate. Eventually, they’re going to tune you out and only go to the events they’ve always participated in. Some may even stop joining in on events altogether.

This, of course, is the complete opposite of your goal in spreading the message of Jesus. It’ll also make it extremely difficult to make up the money spent on planning the events. In most circumstances, less is more.

At the end of the day, planning pays. By investing time to plan at last three to six months out, your team will be able to clearly identify the vision for the event, how best to communicate it to your target audience, invite volunteers to get involved early, and pay a lot less for event vendors and merchandise.

If your church needs to reevaluate its planning process but you’re unsure what that would look like, check out my book, “Big Event Success for Churches,” today. You can read the first chapter for free here.

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Do you know these 3 things about your community?

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Effective communication rises and falls on how well you know your audience. For the church, you have two audiences: internal and external (i.e., congregation and community).

Most of you hopefully understand your congregation because they regularly let you know what they like and dislike. Plus, you meet with them every week or so.

But if you concentrate on an internal audience and don’t have a “pipeline” of growth through the knowledge of your external audience, you’ll almost always decline. Are you in decline? Stagnation?

Do you know your community? Really? Remember, your internal group comes from your community but doesn’t always represent the entire community.

Sadly, most congregations represent a very small percentage of the community. Your members are important, but the vast amount of non-church goers are critical as you seek to lead them to Christ!

Here are three things you should know:

1. How similar are they to your congregation?

The best scenario? That your congregation and community are very similar. The most likely reality, though? They’re very different.

Compare average age, occupations, stage of life, size of families, incomes, where they hangout, what they like to do, etc. Remember that a community won’t want to join a group of people that don’t feel like they belong in. Your website and communication should authentically show your congregation with a leaning towards who your community is.

2. What are their major problems or goals?

When the average person in your community wakes up, what would their concerns be for the day or year? Or are they more driven to accomplish something?

Use what you discovered in No. 1 above to create a stereotypical community member (persona) and imagine what occupies their mind. The more you speak to these temporal problems/goals by offering solutions, the more your community will want to discover you.

3. What is their perception of a church?

This is huge. As you get to know your community, you’ll discover four groups of people: 1) those who vehemently oppose church for a reason (find out if it’s valid); 2) those who don’t really understand church (most don’t know the relevancy of a church because we don’t communicate it well); 3) those who once went to church but really don’t attend regularly now (see if it’s a schedule thing, a busyness issue, or something else); and 4) those who are fully committed to another church (pick their brain about their perception of your congregation; it’ll be eye-opening).

Just remember, don’t get defensive as you discover “reality” in their minds.

If you don’t know your community definitively, discover a good demographic organization that can help you with the information.

Even better? Conduct focus groups. Ask eight to 10 people from your community who are somewhat similar demographically (age, gender, etc.) and ask them questions and listen. Even having coffee with a couple from your community will do wonders towards getting an understanding of those outside of your membership.

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What to do when volunteers quit

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It’s that awkward moment you’re always trying to avoid: a volunteer emails you or mentions one Sunday that he “needs some time away from serving for a while.” Maybe you saw it coming; maybe you didn’t.

Regardless, now you’re left trying to figure out what to do about it. Your gut reaction might include a bit of defensiveness, and it’s hard not to take it personally. However, when you truly care for each church member’s needs, there is an appropriate response to have in these situations.

Here’s what I recommend on what to do when volunteers quit:

Step No. 1: Say Thank You

Expressing gratitude may not seem like your natural response at this moment, but it’s a great place to start. Before you say (or do) anything else, let the volunteer know you appreciate all he’s done and how he’s contributed to the team.

According to a 2017 Employee Engagement study, 76% of employees who do not feel valued at work are looking for other job opportunities. Since this study was on paid employees, try to imagine how someone who isn’t getting paid (i.e., a volunteer) is likely to react when they don’t feel valued.

This doesn’t mean that’s the reason she’s quitting, but if you ever want her to return to service, make sure you say thank you now.

Step No. 2: Ask Why

This next step is probably more of what your instinct went toward. It’s asking why. See if you can find out the reason she’s quitting.

Did she get a new job that will be extra time-consuming for a few months? Perhaps once she gets settled, she’ll be ready to serve again? Or, is she frustrated with recent changes, or a lack of changes, in the area in which she’s serving?

Talk through those concerns and see if there’s a way to clear up any misunderstanding. Finding out the root cause may feel uncomfortable, but it’s essential to know if you have a systemic issue going on. You don’t want to miss why this person is leaving and then have several more volunteers quit for the same reasons.

Lastly, if this volunteer is frustrated with an issue and you agree it needs to be addressed, invite him/her to be part of the solution and help you fix it. This can go a long way in regaining trust and volunteer loyalty.

Step No. 3: Give Them Time

Whatever reason your volunteer left, make sure you respect their decision by giving him time. Wait at least six to eight weeks before inviting him to serve again. In the meantime, be friendly with this person at church services and events. Make sure former volunteers know you care for them as more than just workers.

When you do decide to ask again, invite him/her to serve at an event instead of in a weekly service capacity. This gives an easy, low-commitment way to get back into volunteering.

After the event, follow up and ask about that experience. If it was a good one, you now have the opportunity to ask for a more regular volunteer commitment.

Losing a high-quality volunteer is never fun. It can be stressful finding new people to fill the vacant spots. By conducting self-evaluations and volunteer feedback sessions, you’re less likely to lose these trusted volunteers in the future.

Keep in mind that people quit for various reasons. Regardless of their reasoning, they need to know their church values them whether they’re serving regularly or not. This three-step formula is not only respectful, but it also encourages longer-term retention. It’s a win-win.

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A surprising, often-overlooked church communication tool

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There’s nothing worse than discovering a problem that requires a specific, currently unavailable tool. In fact, availability is the essential requirement for all tools! Multifunctional tools are even better — they accomplish so much and take up less room.

Almost everyone has a multifunctional church communication tool in their pocket. It’s your mobile phone (Apple or Android).

How can you use it for church communication? There’s almost an endless list of tasks that can now be completed on that little mobile device. What a time to be alive! Here are five.

Take Candid Photos.

Great photography is the foundation for great communication. Always have your phone available for taking spontaneous photos of ministry, fellowship, and love. Get in close and capture the emotion.

Don’t worry about getting it perfect; just capture lots of photos so you have access to them when you’re creating web or social posts later.

Even better? Use AirDrop (or similar) to instantly share the images to an editor or social media coordinator. By the end of an event, you can have a nice catalogue of images to use elsewhere (or quick realtime posts).

Shoot Fun or FaceTime Videos.

Like photos, video capture is quick and easy on a phone. The videos don’t have to be long; just something that can be used as B-roll in a larger video (horizontal) or a quick social post (vertical). Or open Facebook for a quick FaceTime video (be careful of background copyrighted music).

Some churches are shooting their entire message on a phone through a FaceTime feed or posting it later online. Just ensure the lighting’s good and your sound is quality for the viewer (there are ways to connect your phone to the soundboard).

Keep a Church Comm Note.

In understanding how your church wants to be known (your thread), you should be constantly listening for story opportunities that can produced later. Open a phone note and keep a list of things to follow-up on. This can include names and contact information for those you should interview later.

Another valuable note? As you advocate for your congregation, keep a running list of things in the service that didn’t feel quite right or that needed a better explanation. Things you can make (gentle) suggestions for in your weekly meeting. Make notes of successful things too!

Motivate or Build Your Team.

Using a group conversation app (or even your text app), shoot suggestions or encouragement to your team during the service or throughout the week. Don’t overdo it, but truly be a friend to your team, or maybe share your contact info with someone you see taking a selfie (or on social media in the service).

They would probably love to join your volunteer church comm team to put their skills to use!

Make Website or Social Changes and Updates.

Apps now allow you to multitask so many things on your phone. Many things just shouldn’t wait: hear about a change or addition from the stage? Go ahead and make the changes quickly online.

Someone on your team take an amazing photo or video? Post it. See that a member posted a great photo of the service? Comment on their post or repost it.

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5 website issues your congregation finds annoying

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A few weeks ago, I heard a pastor (from the stage) say that I needed to visit their website for some information. I thought, “Yes! A pastor is promoting their website rather than a bulletin!” It was also about something that actually interested me.

Before I would forget it, I pulled my phone out to discover the information. And then the frustration began.

It reminded me of the five things your congregation probably finds annoying on your website. Please, fix them before they stop wanting to go to your website.

1. Your website isn’t mobile friendly.

More access your website from a mobile device than a desktop computer. As I sat in the service looking at the small screen in my hand, I realized it was hard to navigate to the information.

In fact, I found it difficult to read the small type and many pages required back and forth scrolling. I decided it’s easier to wait until I was on a desktop. But, to be honest, I forgot about checking later.

TIP: Check your website on a mobile device regularly (most of us make changes on desktop and double check it on a mobile device).

2. The home page doesn’t have current promotions.

The information I heard from the stage wasn’t obviously found when I went to the church’s home page. Remember most people won’t remember your URL so they’ll Google your church’s name. That’ll take them to the home page.

TIP: If you know you’re doing a special promotion, make sure there’s something on the home page that gives a link to the information (or the actual information).

3. Content and menu organization is terrible.

If the information is not on your home page, or doesn’t make sense for it to be there, you need to ensure that your menus are setup to be obvious. No internal words or abbreviations. All content on your website needs to be found via your menus.

TIP: Your main menu needs to be six or fewer choices and prioritized by the most important things to the right. Dropdown menus should have the most important at the top. Double check all your menus (pretending to be an outsider) to see if you can find all your important information!

4. Pages don’t lead to other important pages.

Once someone arrives on a webpage, they will have lots of questions needing answers. Ensure that each page answers the important questions (without the page content becoming too long).

TIP: Not sure what the important questions are? Ask someone. Someone not totally connected or employed at the church. The best way to present answers to questions and get noticed? Add bullet points with the keywords highlighted.

5. Not sure what the next step should be.

At the end of each page, make sure you’ve answered the most important question: “Now what?”

TIP: Tell them what the options are and give them links that will make sense. “Hold their hand” until they have accomplished the bigger task.

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How to implement a new church management system

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Thankfully, there are many incredible church management software programs available to support a church’s growing needs. You’re most likely already using one of them.

If so, I don’t have to tell you about the value a comprehensive ChMS tool can provide to your church. What I can tell you, however, is that not every ChMS is created equal.

With that in mind, if your ChMS tool has lost its ability to effectively support your church, it might be time to consider upgrading to a new one.

Once you’ve chosen a ChMS vendor, here are some great tips on how to implement a new ChMS tool.

Tip No. 1: Leverage Assistance from the New Vendor

Many ChMS vendors offer training and implementation assistance for those new to the software — though sometimes for a fee. If your budget allows, this additional service has huge advantages. You’ll end up with a faster, cleaner implementation than if you had tried to do it on your own.

If you decide not to use the vendor’s assistance, request instructions from them on how to import data from your old ChMS tool (or spreadsheets, whatever you’ve been using) into the new one.

Tip No. 2: Set Up Roles

Before you get to the nitty-gritty of data import, it’s important to establish roles within your team. Think about who on your staff will require access to the ChMS tool and what each of them will need access to once in the system.

An administrator role, for example, will need to be able to set up new roles, import data, and other administrative tasks. Other members may only require view-only access or access to see certain types of data.

This, of course, is going to vary from church to church. It’s helpful to define exactly what you want each role to be able to see and do, then use instructions from the software company to set these up in the system.

Tip No. 3: Create Workflows

Many ChMS tools provide a method for creating workflows that automatically assign a task to an individual based on a trigger event. For example, the entry of a new visitor card triggers Joe Staff Member to send an email to all new visitors from that week.

This can be a huge timesaver for your team while ensuring people don’t fall through the cracks. Churchteams has an excellent workflow automation service that is pretty representative of most ChMS vendors. See some of its features here.

For the workflows you know you’ll want ready when you go live, go ahead and create those in the new system so you can test them.

Tip No. 4: Use a Test Environment

Instead of importing data over and expecting everyone to use the new system right away, keep using your current system while you train staff and volunteers on the new one.

Ask your new vendor if they have a test environment you could use or if you can try things out in your version and then delete everything before importing real data. Typically, vendors are willing to work with you on this.

Tip No. 5: Provide Real Training

No matter how user-friendly the new ChMS seems, you still need to train all staff and volunteers who will use the system. Schedule training sessions based on roles and the functionality each role will require.

If the vendor provides training videos, start with these during your sessions. However, something to keep in mind, you’ll also need to instruct people on how to use the tool based on your church’s policies and procedures.

Tip No. 6: Create an Implementation Schedule

While you’re exporting data out of the old system and importing it into the new system, you’ll need to keep everyone out of both tools to make sure you don’t lose any data. If your church website connects to an event calendar, small group signup, event registration, or another aspect of the old ChMS, you’ll need to decide when to remove those connections and when to connect them to the new ChMS.

To do this, start by creating an implementation schedule that includes a detailed timeline and assigned task list. Let users of the old ChMS know when you’ll turn off access so they know when that’s coming.

Tip No. 7: Implement and Test

Once you’ve brought over data and reestablished website connections, test the system. Some things to look for include:

  • Does the number of records in the new system match the number of records in the old system?
  • Spot check a few records to ensure what was in the old system made it over correctly.
  • Can you view events on the church website like you could with the old system?
  • Are the workflows functioning as intended?
  • Is each role working correctly (someone with a view-only role isn’t able to edit any records)?

As soon as you’ve confirmed that all data came over correctly and that the new system is ready for use, open it up to users and give staff/volunteers the official green light.

Tip No. 8: Provide a Feedback Loop

Sometimes complaints about a new system are due to frustration with getting used to something new. To help everyone embrace the new ChMS, give them an easy way to submit their questions and offer feedback.

As you receive this information, use it to determine whether or not additional training is needed, if you need to change a particular setting, or if you should contact the vendor’s support team.

Whatever the result, make sure you get back to the person who submitted the feedback quickly (especially within the first month of use), as this is a critical time of implementation.

Change is exciting, but it can also be stressful. These tips to implementing a new ChMS tool will keep you and your church staff organized — and less stressed — as you move on to newer and better procedures for your ministry.

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4 tips for your church’s benevolence policy

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“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”— Matthew 25:35-40

As followers of Christ, part of how we honor our Savior is by giving to the poor, helping the oppressed, and encouraging the discouraged.

One way churches can follow through with this mission is by developing a benevolence policy. Having a structured policy will help your church be consistent in how you distribute aid and ensure proper stewardship of the money and resources entrusted to you.

Creating a benevolence policy isn’t hard, but it will take some organization by church leaders.

Here are four tips for creating a strong benevolence policy for your church.

Tip No. 1: Document the Policy

A comprehensive benevolent policy should include the following:

  • Description of the policy and who it will support.
  • Clear guidelines regarding the criteria for requesting, approving (or declining), and distributing benevolence money.
  • Identification of a proper chain of authority (who receives the request, reviews it, is authorized to approve it, and distributes it). This could involve members of the church in addition to church staff.

Tip No. 2: Gather a List of Local Resources

Churches are equipped to help the needy in a multitude of ways. There are instances, however, when the church isn’t the best resource.

For these situations, know where to turn. Compile a list of local organizations that provide aid such as shelter, counseling, job training, food banks, and medical/dental care. Determine when you’ll refer someone out to these organizations versus trying to provide direct assistance within your church.

Tip No. 3: Create a Request Form

Unfortunately, there will be people who come to your church asking for essentially a blank check. It’s important to have processes in place that can help vet these requests.

One way to do that is by requiring every potential recipient to fill out a request form. It doesn’t need to be long and overly complicated, but it should provide enough information so your team knows if the request falls under the guidelines of your benevolence policy. Make this form available in both electronic and paper formats.

Tip No. 4: Set a Budget

Decide how much funding your church will designate as part of the monthly benevolence budget. It’s tempting to want to help everyone all the time, but with a budget in place, you’ll have a better understanding of which requests you should handle within the church and which ones need outside assistance (see Tip No. 2).

Another key element to this is late request forms. If a request comes in after the money for that month has been spent, have a plan in place for handling those situations — and include it in your written policy. Will you defer that person to the next month, take money from next month’s budget to help, or do you have any rollover funds you could pull from?

Once you have a solid benevolence policy in place, the key is to ensure everyone involved knows the policy and adheres to it. When someone asks for help, our natural inclination is to say yes.

However, that may not always be in that person’s best interest or be the best use of church resources. By planning how to use your church benevolence funds, you can typically help those who need it the most while becoming more intentional with your giving.

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How to include all staff members in financial stewardship

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Talking about financial budgets isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite subject. When it comes to your church, however, it’s a discussion to engage in with more than just top leaders of your congregation.

Depending on how your church is structured, department or ministry leaders might have some involvement in the annual budgeting process. You may also have a finance committee consisting of church elders who are involved as well.

Also, inviting church staff to participate in developing the budget can prove beneficial long term. By allowing employees to help create the budget, they’re able to better understand the decision-making process and the challenges that come with it. Another bonus: It can also show them how to be better financial stewards.

As you begin planning for your next annual budget, here are some ways to get employees engaged in the budgeting process.

Step No.1: Ask each department to provide their ideal budget for the upcoming year

Have staff members consider the following factors:

  • What events do we want to host this year, and what are the anticipated expenses for each?
  • Do we need to hire additional staff or add more contractors?
  • What conferences or training do we need to be more effective?
  • Do we need to upgrade or replace computers, software, or other technology?
  • How does this budget align with the church’s overarching vision and goals for the year?
  • How does this budget align with our department’s efforts in supporting the church’s vision?

Step No. 2: Request explanations

For budget line items over a set dollar amount, ask for an explanation on why that item is needed and how they arrived at that dollar amount.

Step No. 3: Consolidate and evaluate

Once you’ve consolidated these into a single budget for the church, decide whether that budget is realistic.

For example, does past church income from donations indicate you’d have enough money to cover these expenses? If not, ask each department to prioritize and identify areas to cut.

Step No. 4: Implement accountability

Once you have a final budget that’s approved by church leadership, hold each department accountable to that monthly budget.

  • When an employee submits a Purchase Request, he/she should reference whether this expense is within the budget or not (and if not, why).
  • Provide a monthly budget vs. actual report to each department leader and request explanations for any significant variances.
  • Ensure the person(s) responsible for planning events have the appropriate budget information and monitor spending for each event.

This plan to engaging employees can guide your staff toward a better understanding of the church budget and their role in financial stewardship. It may at first seem a bit out of their comfort zone, but the rewards of financial accountability are worth the effort.

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7 tips for creating a print handout that works

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The church loves print materials! Historically, church communication revolved around the bulletin. When announcements were made, often a bulletin was referred to. Why? Because it was the only way for families to be reminded of ministry activity.

But problems come with print materials: they take a lot of time to prepare, they cost a lot to reproduce, they get misplaced easily, and they get outdated quickly.

And when they do? It’s impossible to supply a corrected substitute to replace the original. Another more obscure issue with print materials? You can’t track if they’re read — or even how much time is spent with them. We often fall into an unfounded confidence of “because I gave them a print handout, they will know.”

Today, most people prefer to go to the internet and discover the information rather than find where they put the handout. But the problem with websites? Older demographics resist them.

So, since most churches are comprised of many older people, print handouts are around for at least another 10+ years. So, let’s discuss ways to create effective print handouts:

1. Know who the intended audience is.

Understand who you want to pick up and digest the content of your handout. Imagine they’re in front of you with very little time.

2. Discuss what the purpose of the handout is.

Since your audience has mere seconds of attention span, know the most important information and what they need to know. It all goes back to who the handout is intended for and what they would be attracted to.

3. Collect the required materials to serve the purpose.

Now, think of everything you’ll need to fulfill the purpose of the handout and ensure it is high quality.

4. Professionally layout the material.

Don’t have layout or design skills? Be careful. If something looks badly, it’ll reflect on the quality of the ministry behind the handout.

Other solutions? Ask a freelancer, hire a designer, or use prepackaged templates for a desired computer program.

5. Know foundational brand elements and use them.

This is critical! Every communication piece should build your church’s brand (what you’re known for). Know how logos should be used, color restrictions, and font restrictions. No restrictions? Then you don’t have a church brand (so fix that!).

6. Edit. Edit. Edit. Calm everything down.

The calmer it is, the more time someone is likely to spend on it. Since most have little time, they risk missing important information. Do whatever it takes to get them to spend more time.

Like great pictures that extend the story and captivate attention. Allow white space so nothing feels cramped. Don’t have any unnecessary word or concept. Keep things simple.

7. Concentrate on “what now?”

Your audience will skim over the handout quickly. If they’re interested at all, they’ll want to do something. Know what that is and make sure you’re clear.

Examples of call to actions? Register on our website. Call the church. Or bring a friend!

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4 tips to simplify planning for Christmas

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You see it year after year: More people filling in your pews for the Christmas service. Some are coming to make their obligatory annual church appearance, while others are faithful members who are eager to participate in the traditions of a Christmas Eve service.

Though having more people fill the sanctuary is a good thing; seeing a noticeable decline in attendance after the holiday can be discouraging.

However, this attendance spike at Christmas is an opportunity to turn your unchurched guests into active church members.

One way to do this is by planning a memorable Christmas service that motivates and inspires. Through preparation and prayer, pulling off such a service is not only possible but enjoyable.

Here are four tips on how to make planning for Christmas easier and less stressful:

Tip No. 1: Start Now

It’s summer, and you’re knee deep in Vacation Bible School, back-to-school events, and summer camp activities. Christmas in July is a fun phrase to throw around, but never one you thought to take seriously.

However, if you wait until November to start planning your Christmas service, you’ll be mired in Christmas burnout come Thanksgiving. Trying to plan last minute can lead to long evening hours, excessive time away from family, and a harder time securing volunteers.

That’s why setting aside time now — when the holiday decor is still tucked away in a back room somewhere — to plan Christmas celebrations is the ideal way to smoothly plan a memorable service. After all, it’s Christmas, and being so stressed, we forget its importance doesn’t make for a great atmosphere in which to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Tip No. 2: Reflect on Prior Years

Since this probably isn’t your first Christmas rodeo, reflecting on last year’s service will help you know how to improve for this year. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team as you look at prior years:

  • How did you, your team, and your volunteers feel in December and once Christmas was over? Were you exhausted and irritated with each other? If so, why and how can you prevent those issues this year?
  • How did the Christmas events turn out? Was your attendance as high as you expected?
  • What feedback did you receive from church members?

Also, if you had a lessons learned meeting afterward, refer to those notes and see what the team mentioned during those sessions. Reviewing your team’s immediate feedback will be much more valuable than trying to reflect months later.

Based on this information, move to Tip No. 3 and decide what’s most important.

Tip No. 3: Decide What’s Most Important

Did your church hold a Christmas outreach in mid-December, a Christmas children’s play, a concert, a nativity production, and multiple services on Christmas Eve? If you answered yes to most of the above, then perhaps reducing the number of Christmas events can help you stay focused on creating fewer, yet more meaningful ones.

In addition to the reflection you did in Tip No. 2, ask yourself these questions:

  • As a church, what are you trying to accomplish in December?
  • Do you want to serve the community and invite them to attend Christmas services?
  • Does a big Christmas production make sense for your congregation and budget?

Once you know what you want to accomplish, narrow down your event list accordingly. Be brutally honest as a team about which events were successful versus which ones are simply “what we’ve always done.”

Tip No. 4: Gather an Event Planning Team

An event planner can be the difference between a successful event and a failed one. Designate an event planner to coordinate all the detailed tasks, deadlines, and communication between the church departments that will be involved with Christmas celebrations.

For churchwide holiday events, make sure you have a representative on the team from each department, including finance, communications, facilities, and other behind-the-scenes groups.

Also, invite volunteers to be a part of the planning process instead of just day-of responsibilities. Last but not least, make sure to track progress and hold people accountable to deadlines set by the event planner. And no, the fact that “Christmas is months away” isn’t a good excuse for missing a deadline.

The opportunity to turn non-church-goers into active members is a mission worth planning for. Summer preparation sessions will go a long way in helping you create a Christmas service to remember — and it’ll give a whole new meaning to Christmas in July.

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