Making the Most of Online Christmas Services
Many churches spend years trying to crack the code for the perfect Christmas service. They may increase the number of services, organize a special Christmas choir, set up a nativity and poinsettias, or plan an adjoined community event to bring more people in the door. However, it’s no secret that this year is going to look very different from years past.
Covid-19 and the surrounding precautions will cause churches to make massive program adjustments as they move online. While watching a Christmas service on a screen may sound un-cheerful and drab, going digital actually has its benefits for outreach initiatives.
Four Ways Churches can Grow Online
Most people have probably already lowered their expectations for their church’s Christmas service this year. However, digital services actually widen the group of people that the church can reach in these four specific ways:
- Facebook Live and YouTube videos have no cap on the number of viewers allowed. However, physical buildings do (especially when enforcing social distancing). This means the message could reach more ears once it’s posted on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Podcasts, or the church website.
- Once your sermon is posted online, anyone can listen to it at any time. Congregants don’t need to worry about ‘missing’ it, as they now have access to watch or rewatch it at a time that best suits them.
- The services are now more shareable. It’s much quicker to text a friend a link to an online church service, than it is to invite them and coordinate getting there. Likewise, it feels much less risky to recommend that a new- or non-Christian friend listen to a podcast than inviting them to a weekend retreat.
- Similarly, for new Christians and non-Christians, it’s much less intimidating to click on a video than to walk into a room of strangers discussing their beliefs. And maybe, after watching the Christmas service and several others online, they’ll be ready to walk into a church once they reopen.
Christmas services are typically remembered as bright, warm, and meaningful events. And admittedly, some things will be lost this year (like kindergarteners dressed as donkeys and sheep, reenacting the Nativity). However, the pillar of each Christmas service is the message of hope, which can be heard on any device.
Ideas for making your Digital Christmas Service Meaningful
With such a wide audience, you ought to make the Christmas Service memorable and meaningful! Here are some of our favorite ideas for digital Christmas services this year:
- Include your Community. Advertise your online Christmas service to non-congregants who live in your city, town, or suburb. Create a poster to hang in local coffee shops, a banner outside the church, and ask to post in any online community pages. (This article takes a look at why community-inclusion is so important for Christmas services!)
- Encourage Congregant Participation. Whether it’s keeping an Advent Wreath in their homes or setting up a Zoom meeting where each member reads a verse of Luke 2, try to think of creative ways that families and individuals in your congregation can remember the significance of Jesus coming to Earth.
- Find a way to Serve. Encourage the little ones to write and draw cards for soldiers and senior citizens, invite the teens to increase awareness about poverty in the community, and appreciate and thank the adults in the congregation who tithe.
Christmas 2020 could be very merry and bright for churches, if they find creative ways to share their message of hope online and involve their congregants and community.