Next week, my sister and I are singing with my mom’s little country church choir for their C.E. service. I’m excited about the opportunity. I’ve missed the chaotic “birth-giving process” of a Christmas Eve service ever since I began traveling full time and am not on staff at a local church.
In thinking about the night to come, it did remind me of a few negative experiences I’ve observed in small church holiday services. We all know that Christmas Eve church is loaded with guests. Some may be making decisions about whether (or not) they want to return to your church for other Sunday worship services. I’d like your guests to have the best customer experience possible so here are a few do’s/don’ts.
1) Don’t assume anything! Don’t assume people know where to sit, what door to use, where to get the bulletins, etc. My first Christmas here in East TX country, I got reprimanded by a choir member for sitting in an (unmarked) pew that was “always reserved for the choir.”
2) Don’t highlight the visitors! It may have been awhile since some of your folks have been in church and the last thing they want is to have to stand up. They’re still scared the roof may fall in! Let them identify themselves at their own pace. Offer them a guest packet from a table or booth where they initiate the receiving.
3) Don’t force kids to go somewhere else! Families who are new to your church don’t know you or your nursery workers. Sure, there should ALWAYS be a nursery offered and yes, there should ALWAYS be a children’s sermon. But don’t traipse new children off from their parents. It will leave parents and kids feeling very uncomfortable. Ask your ushers not to offer directions to the nursery unless they’re asked first. Better yet, just print what is available for children in the bulletin and let families make their own choice.
4) Don’t skip the coffee fellowship afterwards! After they’ve had a comfortable experience in your worship, they might stay a few minutes after the service for hot chocolate and cookies. That’s when you take advantage of getting to know them. You’ve waited all year for this many guests.
5) Don’t talk only to the church members! Give it a rest for one night. You all see each other 51 other weeks of the year. This is the night to talk to people you don’t recognize.
OK, go knock ’em alive, small churches! This is the week we wait all year to enjoy! Preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words!