You may have noticed that the nights are drawing in, the temperatures have dropped and it’s beginning to look a lot like……. NO, please don’t mention it! Well, you’re right, it’s not Christmas yet and you don’t want to make the mistake to talk about it too early as I’m already boycotting the supermarkets where Christmas cards and mince pies have appeared. However, when you work on a church staff team it is important to think ahead and Christmas is looming at the end of this term.
Our friends at Christian Publishing & Outreach (CPO) published an 8 step guide in this month’s ‘Reach’ publication, on how to get ready to use your Christmas Communications effectively. As you will know, we have been running ‘Communicating with Impact’ training across the UK so this is a subject close to our hearts. We’re delighted to have speakers from CPO talking at our training days in Hertfordshire and Cambridge in the coming weeks.
Do check out the CPO Christmas Comms guide at cpo.org.uk and in the meantime here are UCAN’s 6 top tips for making the most of Christmas.
1. PLAN: September is the best month to finalise plans for the festive season. Arrange a meeting of the ‘key players’ to confirm the programme of services and events and to go over all the logistical implications. Make sure you know who is responsible for what and who will be staffing each key event. You may want to publish a master Christmas logistics plan to act as a roadmap when the rubber hits the road! Logistical plans can include music and tech requirements, rehearsal slots, hospitality and welcome provision, communications, decorations, accessibility support, set-ups and pack-downs.
2. PROMOTE: Put together a schedule of when Christmas services and events need to be promoted to the church family and the local community. You don’t want to start talking about Christmas publicly in September (after all no-one is feeling Christmassy), however, you will want to make some key dates known and be ready to get more detail out in early November which is just 6-8 weeks away. Now is the time to put together a creative, appealing and inviting approach to Christmas communications, with consistent flyers, banners, posters, videos, social media posts….
3. INVITE FEEDBACK: You may have gathered feedback from Christmas 2018 which will help inform your planning for this year. Great start! If not, run the plans past some friends and invite honest feedback. Now is the time to hone your message and maximise the potential for this vital time. If you’re producing invitations aimed at the local community or local schools, check how the content and tone is received with someone outside the church. You may be amazed at what they spot.
4. KEEP IT SIMPLE: Christmas is a powerful message in itself and most people are ready and willing to embrace it. Don’t try and be too clever or gimmicky with your Christmas services and promotion. Remember at Christmas, cheese is best accompanied with bread and crackers (or Christmas cake), not poster, flyers and tag-lines!
5. ADOPT THE BRACE POSITION: There’s no avoiding it, Christmas is a busy and tiring time, with additional services, work, setting up and packing away. Therefore, we need to go into it with a helpful attitude. Take adequate rest times in advance, encourage your team to stick together and be gracious with each other, celebrate as you go along and recuperate shortly after. Intentionally set a healthy culture for Christmas.
6. REMEMBER EVERYONE: There will be individuals and families within your church and community who will find Christmas hard this year. They may have lost a loved one or be suffering from ill-health or another pressure. Within all the celebration, please identify and remember these people and as a church family diligently offer them pastoral care and support when it may mean the most.
Above all, enjoy and celebrate the transformational truth of the baby born into the stable, God Incarnate, Jesus Christ Emmanuel.
Executive Director, UCAN