11 Strategies to Help You Leverage Christmas to Reach the Unchurched

11 Strategies to Help You Leverage Christmas to Reach the Unchurched

Any idea what the best outreach opportunity of the year at your church is?

You might think it’s an event you do, or perhaps it’s Easter. But whether Christmas has historically been your best opportunity to reach unchurched people or not, I believe it could be.

You may think it’s far too early to start thinking about Christmas but think again. Whenever I share these ideas about Christmas each year, people say, “Hey, I wish you’d talked about this earlier.” So we are.

So why can Christmas become your very best outreach event of the year?

As our culture becomes more and more post-Christian, we’re seeing far fewer times when the holidays of the church and the holidays of culture sync.

I remember about a decade ago hearing a Toronto DJ refer to Easter as “the first long weekend of summer” (in Canada Good Friday is a holiday and schools still take Easter Monday off…a relic from Colonial days). Good Friday and Easter were completely lost on him. It was simply time off.

Christmas is completely different. It’s the one time each year mainstream culture still pays attention to a Christian holiday.

Our culture still loves Christmas. Sure, you can yell and scream that the motives are commercial.

But Christmas is the only time of year when you’ll hear restaurants, malls, radio stations and Spotify playlists belt out explicitly Christian songs like Charles Wesley’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:”

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

LEADERS WHO COMPLAIN ARE FAR LESS EFFECTIVE THAN LEADERS WHO LEVERAGE

If you follow a lot of Christians on social media leading up to Christmas, you probably have noticed how many people lament over the culture’s disregard of Christ.

In my view, Christian leaders who complain about the culture are far less effective than leaders who figure out how to leverage it.

Well, you can see the obstacle. Or you can see the opportunity. I choose to see the opportunity. There are so many connection points with our culture you’ll miss if you only see the glass as half empty.

Christmas is no time for the church to be more cynical than the world, which still remembers something is different at Christmas, even if they’re not exactly sure what it is.

Stop complaining about the world. Reach it instead.

As the general population thinks less about the Christian faith, Christmas provides a unique opportunity to reach people who no longer ordinarily attend church.

What’s surprising is that many churches don’t really leverage Christmas to make the impact it could.

At Connexus Church, where I serve, our Christmas service wins hands-down every year for both overall attendance AND attendance by unchurched people. Although from a theological viewpoint, Christmas will never be bigger than Easter, when we think of it in practical terms, our Christmas outreach is always bigger than Easter simply because the culture is paying more attention.

Our culture pauses for Christmas in a way it pauses for little else in the year.

TV and film celebrate Christmas in all of its expressions. Almost everyone decorates their homes, businesses and cities.

On December 24 and 25, the Western world comes as close to stopping as it ever does.

I’m not sure there’s any better time than Christmas to connect with those of your friends and neighbors who rarely, if ever, go to church.

So with that in mind, here are 11 strategies to make Christmas your best outreach of the year.

1. DESIGN AN EVENT FOR YOUR COMMUNITY, NOT FOR YOUR MEMBERS

So what’s the biggest mistake many churches make each Christmas?

Simple. Too many churches hold a quiet Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service for members and leave it at that.

Others will do little to nothing special.

That makes Christmas the biggest missed opportunity of the year.

Unchurched people want to celebrate Christmas. Why can’t your church help them?

Here’s a hint: If you design your services with the community in mind, your members will love it too. Especially if their friends come and it changes their lives.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.

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