It’s hard to believe we are less than ten weeks away from Christmas. Have you even thought about a Christmas To-do list for your church, let alone made one? We may have been shaking our heads at the Christmas decoration displays already up for weeks at Walmart, Target, Lowes, etc. But as you know, a lot of preparation is needed to prepare our churches and congregants for Christmas.
Music directors are on the ball and have probably started – choir, worship band, bell choir – practices already. But have we thought about what volunteer needs our churches may have? Including help in the nursery and additional welcome teams. Will parking be an issue? Even if our regular services haven’t bounced completely back, will we see even more significant attendance numbers this year? (Including some of those who have yet to return?) Will we need overflow facilities or online services to fill some of these needs?
Ten weeks isn’t looking too far away now, is it? So to help you get organized, we have put together a Christmas To-Do list for your church. So, where should we start?
Everything revolves around the service. How many services will you offer? And what is the schedule? Children’s, Midnight, Spanish, Latin (or other languages), candlelight, traditional, contemporary, there are so many. So determine what you’ll offer and when. A good way to start your decision-making is by looking at your current and last year’s Christmas schedules.
Some churches will hold special programs and Advent activities leading up to Christmas or even during the Christmas service. Be sure you have the needed AV, volunteers, and equipment ready. Some of these may be simple events like pre-service caroling, live nativity, hot cocoa with candy canes, or more formal programs like a Christmas pageant. Give yourself plenty of time to plan. People are busy around the holidays, and you may find yourself short of helpers and time.
Be prepared for a large crowd. Let your congregation know when the services are so they can invite friends and family! Have extra seating or prepare an overflow space. You’ll need working projectors, screens, a video feed, and sound equipment. Even if you don’t have a large crowd, use the overflow areas for the elderly, families, or others concerned about being in a crowd.
Since Christmas services always draw more people, we should also anticipate the need for more volunteers. (And, don’t let a tight schedule hinder you from doing background checks on all your volunteers.) We’ll need help in the nursery, at the children’s service, in overflow areas, decorating, AV help, greeters, and parking lot attendants. Some churches need extra altar servers, people to do the readings, handout candles, and even a clean-up crew. Again, start with the type of services and what you’ll need for them. Then work out from there to your program and facility needs.
Parking and Traffic Flow
If you have an older congregation, you may want to set up a drop-off area and designate additional handicap parking. Having young people escort those from the drop-off area may help expedite the flow. Parking lot attendants are always helpful before and after your services. Hiring off-duty officers for traffic control needs might be a consideration.
After Thanksgiving, sharing details of your Christmas services with your congregation and community is important. Take advantage of your existing communication channels – announcements, programs, social media pages, emails, newsletters, etc. Many will have family coming to town, or neighbors they want to invite. Providing details lets everyone make plans.
Consider what your security needs will be. Inside your church, in the parking area, and in other areas of your facility. Depending on the size of your facility, you may want to hire a security firm or at least have them come out and do a consultation.
It may be difficult to have medical staff on hand during your service but if you have a trained first response team, schedule them across all your services. If that isn’t possible, ensure you have an emergency plan, people who know the plan, and their role.
It’s important to let people know whether or not you’re offering childcare during the Christmas service. Or if you’ll have an area for families. Knowing what is available makes it easier for families. Depending on your congregation’s average age, offering a private space for nursing mothers might be another consideration.
These are areas to highlight when making your church Christmas to-do list this year. Be sure to regroup after Christmas and add items you may have missed. Get input from staff, volunteers, the music team, nursery helpers, etc.
For more information on Christmas Prep, Volunteers, Safety, Communication, etc., visit Church Growth blogs.
Carol has worked in the ACST Marketing department and managed most aspects of marketing over the last 20 years. Before ACST, she spent many years handling marketing for companies across the US, including Novell, WordPerfect, Purolator Courier, ArtToday.com, and U.S.News & World Report. Carol is a cradle Catholic who has been active her entire life (a long time!) and has served in volunteer positions within her parish, including formation instructor, lector, code red responder, and numerous other volunteer roles.