Christmas is fast approaching so it’s time to spruce up your congregation’s website and social media presence. According to Lifeway Research, 84% of Lutheran congregations say their high-attendance event happens on Christmas Eve. Make a plan now to help people know about your Advent services and what to expect when they visit you.
Pay Attention To Your Congregation’s Website and Social Media
- Clearly and prominently display the dates and times of your Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve worship services on your website and social media accounts.
- Worship service information should include any pre- or post-service fellowship events; whether you provide staffed childcare during the service, an unstaffed cry room, or encourage children to attend the service with their parents.
- Include a description of the different types and times of holiday services if you offer more than one.
- Having names and pictures of staff and leadership on your website will help visitors know who to look for when they have questions or want to get connected.
- Consider what else visitors and potential new members might want to know about your congregation:
- Note that you are an LCMS congregation and include a link to the Synod website. Add a statement of faith, including information about communion and baptism.
- Are visitors included in communion? Who should they talk with about it?
- What do people usually wear?
- Is there a Sunday School hour?
- Is one worship service more traditional than another, and what are the times of each?
- Who can they talk to about becoming a member?
- How can they get your newsletter?
- Can they give electronically? Where and how?
- What are your office hours if they want to call?
- Treat your visitors’ page like a virtual billboard, letting them know what you have coming up. If you are planning any special activities for the community in the year to come, be sure to add that information here as well. Even a simple “Information About Vacation Bible School This July Coming Soon!” will prompt them to think about your congregation as a place for community events.
All of this helpful information can be summarized on one page with a title such as “Plan Your Visit” or “What To Expect.”
Ask Members to Share Invitations
Use your congregation’s Facebook page to post the services and fellowship times as events, clearly indicating start and end times, and your congregation’s location. Encourage members to share these event posts on their own pages and in community groups, including a personal invitation such as “Come sit with our family during the 7 p.m. service!” Make colorful Instagram posts with that text in the image using free design tools such as Canva. Visit the Concordia Technology Solutions Blog for a number of articles about using social media for church communication https://www.concordiatechnology.org/blog/topic/social-media.
Think Critically About Your Building and Grounds
It’s also important to consider what a visitor will see when they visit your building. Members can get used to confusing parking, hidden bathrooms, or clutter and not be aware of how it will look to visitors.
- Think about driving to your church and navigating your parking lot, the entrances, and the layout of your building as if you’d never been there before. Consider what signage you might need as a first-time visitor to find your way around.
- Is the entrance to your parking lot on a different street than your listed mailing address?
- Do you have extra parking somewhere if your main lot is full?
- Are only certain entrances considered ADA accessible?
- Are the bathrooms easy to find and clearly marked?
- Is there a separate changing area for babies, or a room for nursing mothers?
- Is there a cry room or place for restless children?
- Make sure any display boards or signs in your building show updated and correct information about services, events, Bible study groups, etc. Consider where you can post information so visitors will see it while in the building, including bathroom mirrors and entry/exit doors. Clean up outdated information on display tables and bulletin boards.
- Make sure printed bulletins or pew cards include information such as your website URL, upcoming activities, how to become a member, etc.
Free Social Media Image Sets For Your Congregation, School, or Daycare Center
In order to assist the congregations of the Nebraska District with making the most of their social media accounts, we are offering sets of free images you can use during Thanksgiving and Advent.
There are three separate sets of Advent images, each meant for daily posts during the season. All are available in sizes for Facebook and Instagram, and one set (Advent Set C) also has sizes for Twitter. Advent Set A can be used in any order. Advent Set B, shown below, is designed to be used in number order (1-1 on the first Sunday of Advent, 1-2 on the second day of Advent…2-1 on the second Sunday, etc. Adjust for the length of the season by using the last dozen images as needed to match Christmas Eve and Day) with a seven day cycle of background images and different Bible verses each day.
Advent Set C, shown below, is designed with background images that move from dark to light through the season.
Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) has a number of helpful Ministry Moments videos to help you as you plan to welcome Christmas Eve and Christmas Day visitors. One of the most helpful videos in this series is the third one, remind us to get to work on connecting with visitors after Christmas Eve worship.
Concordia Technology Solutions has a blog that offers many articles on improving your church communications. You can read more about connecting with visitors in the CTS articles Creating a Welcome Email Series to Follow Up with Church Visitors and 3 Steps to Connect with Christmas Worship Visitors.
Visit the website of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for a variety of Advent resources, include a media kit, devotions for the family table, bulletin inserts for children, and more. The LWML website has a wealth of Advent resources as well.
Lutheran Hour Ministries Resource: How to Turn Difficult Conversations into Moments of Grace
- Do you have at least one relative you fear inviting over?
- Have you considered hiring a referee for your holiday gatherings?
- Do you find yourself wanting to create a list of “off-limits topics” around the dinner table?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you need “The 93% Guide,” a resource available from Lutheran Hour Ministries to turn difficult conversations into moments of grace. Click here to get the guide.