This post is adapted from a previous, Easter Welcome List. I believe there are three parts to welcoming guests with children to Christmas Eve services: Invite, Include, and Inspire. Here’s what I’m working on this week:
Invite- Both personal and group invitations are an important part of preparation.
- Make sure your website is up to date. Consider sponsored social media posts for Christmas worship services. Postcards with dates and times can be given to church members to share with neighbors, or mailed to the community.
- Personally invite families to services, especially those who have visited this fall. Think about things that people who have been a part of your church for a long time take for granted and communicate those things with new families.
- Do you have other organizations that work with children or families using your building? Be sure to invite them in a low-pressure way.
Include – Plan ways for children (even first-time guests) to be a part of the service.
- In smaller churches I have led interactive story times that work for regulars as well as guests. Projecting the pages of a picture book so adults can see, too, is a cozy and quiet way to have “children’s times.” Traci Smith has a great list of books to consider.
- In larger churches, printed coloring pages and packets of crayons are easy and welcoming alternatives to children’s time. Pro tip: Cardboard crayon packets are quieter than the plastic wrapped ones – and more environmentally friendly.
- Don’t forget the nursery!!! Give it an extra cleaning. Staff it expecting visitors. Child-friendly nativity sets, battery candles, and Christmas stickers or crafts create a festive spirit for the youngest children.
- Use your announcements, slideshow, bulletin and/or pew cards to communicate the ways you welcome children in worship. I created a pew card written to the children directly (even though I expect adults will be the ones reading it). I’ll be working to improve the layout, but you may find the text helpful.
Inspire – Families who visit on Christmas Eve may be looking for a church home. With that in mind, think about how you will inspire them to attend upcoming, new-person friendly events:
- Create a section in your children’s coloring pages and the regular bulletin that has 2-3 family-friendly activities in the month of January. Let visitors know about service projects, movie nights, parent coffees, and Sunday morning children’s ministry.
- Consider scheduling an open house. Even if you don’t have visitors, it communicates that you welcome visitors and their questions. The family I mention in this open house post from several years ago have become dear friends who sent me a picture of their Advent mason jars they made with me at the church I served.
- I cannot say this enough: Check that your website and calendar are up to date so guests can find the information they are looking for.
Have something to add to the list? I’d love to hear from you!