Outreach: Church communication and marketing tools Outreach: Church communication and marketing tools

A Three-Pronged Approach To Christmas Outreach

Christmas is just around the corner (where did October go?!) and if you’re like most churches, you’ve already started putting your service and event plans in place. But have you thought about how you will invite visitors to come?

Recent studies show only half of Americans plan to attend church on Christmas, which means having a full house on Christmas Eve is no longer guaranteed. So what is the best way for your church to see the most visitors this year? It’s time to plan a multi-pronged strategy to ensure you are effectively reaching out. Here are three strategies that, when combined, provide you the best opportunities:

  1. Personal Invitations - Your regular attenders are still the best way to invite neighbors to church. People trust those they know for recommendations on auto mechanics or dentists, so why not a church? Studies show that 80% of un-churched people will come to church if a friend invites them. However, church members can be reluctant to step out and do the actual inviting, so it’s a good idea to make it as easy as you can.
    • Provide small invitation cards with basic information for your Christmas Eve service times so your members can hand them to neighbors, post the on bulletins boards, or give them to business people they work with regularly.
    • Create an event that is “invite-able”. Make sure your Christmas events are designed with visitors in mind. Try to plan something that will appeal to your community and their tastes and style, and keep your events free of too much “Christianese” and insider language.
    • Challenge your entire church to step up, and then keep encouraging people to pray and invite. Use personal testimonies of people in your church whose lives were changed by a simple invitation as an illustration of what can happen. If people feel a part of a larger movement they are more likely to participate.
  2. Church Postcards- While your members are inviting their friends, take the next step to reach out to a larger group. The most cost-effective way to reach thousands of homes is through the mail. And while some people have written printed mail off as “old fashioned” and expensive, recent statistics show just the opposite:
    • 90% of people check their mail every day and 77% of consumers sort through their mail as soon as they get it. (When was the last time you sorted through your emails like that?)
    • 67% of recipients feel mail is more personal than the internet.
    • 8% of people keep direct mail for future reference.

    Direct mail is most effective when it’s kept simple, which is why postcards work. They are easy to read, can include eye-catching graphics and their size and shape make them the most affordable way item to mail. (Click here to see some great postcard options for this Winter.)

    Perhaps most importantly, every piece of mail is at least reviewed by the participant - and no matter if someone puts your postcard on the refrigerator or in the trash - they still look at it. Printed mail has a 75% brand recall (digital ads only have a 44%) - so chances are they will remember your church name the next time they consider coming to church. Want to know more about effective direct mail? Click here.

  3. Social Media - The third piece of your invitation push should be online - but not necessarily in the way you’d normally think. While your first instinct might be to post an invitation to your event and then ask your members to share it with everyone - that may not be the best method.
  4. The average person spends nearly two hours a day on social media - and there are ads everywhere. Which means that people get desensitized to anything that even LOOKS like an ad. Approaching your posts from a different, more conversational angle, will boost engagement and get your post more widely read.

    For example, a recent study showed that less people today believe in the key elements of the Christmas story (virgin birth, baby laid in a manger, angels announcement, wise men guided by a star) - so what would happen if your church created its own informal survey about the beliefs of your members and friends? It would probably get people talking and sharing - which is the whole point of social media!

    Combining this type of conversation starter along with seasonal videos, attractive, thoughtful or inspirational messages, and an occasional event invitation will help make your social media page more readable and shareable. Learn more about regular social sharing and using social media for your church here.

Since you can no longer count on visitors to just show up on their own, the real key to having a successful Christmas outreach is to be intentional about reaching out to your community and then make your church as welcoming and friendly as possible.