As we go into the holiday season, your church will be holding many events that will attract visitors. You want these visitors to become regular attenders and you can help make this possible not only by the quality of your holiday event, but by the follow-up publications you send out.
Successful follow-up publications DO NOT mean a mass generated “so glad you were here….” letter. Instead, try these ideas:
Position your church positively
Sending out a “so glad you were here” publication is OK to do if you have the time and money, but there is nothing usual or memorable about that. People expect churches to be glad they came and of course a church wants them to return.
What might be a bit more surprising is if your church, instead of asking for something, gave something away. For example, what if you sent out a series of postcards or a series of one-page newsletters and tips that would give people ideas that would help them get through the holiday season. What if those publications didn’t ask for anything, but were genuine servant publications with the motive of honestly helping the people they were sent to.
This would put your church in an entirely different place and a very positive one that would cause people to want to return. Following are some specific publications that could do this:
Countdown to Christmas Postcards/flyers or emails
Depending upon how far back from Christmas you start this, let’s assume you have a list of families who attended your Fall Harvest Festival. You make up a series of perhaps five post-cards, tri-fold flyers, or follow-up emails in bright colors with topics like this:
Countdown to Christmas
Week #1—some inexpensive, creative, and alternative ideas on how to plan Christmas shopping and gift exchanges, drawing of names, deciding to give to charities in the name of family members, what charity opportunities are available in your community, if any churches (your church?) sell third world gift items.
Week #2—some favorite recipes from your congregation: a favorite fudge, a hot cider mix, a special grandma cookie recipe. Many families today don’t have family members close by and many young families don’t know how to prepare holiday items. Make sure your directions are simple and easy.
Week #3—the meaning of advent and some ideas on how to help families celebrate it. Perhaps offer an advent booklet for free by simply calling your church or requesting one from your church website.
Week #4—Offer to pray for people during this busy and sometimes stressful time of year. Have a prayer line where they can leave requests or an email address. Assure them it is confidential and is a gift from your church to them.
Week #5—An invitation to take part and the times your church offers free baby-sitting so busy parents or especially single parents can shop, locations where your church is doing totally free gift-wrapping.
On all these postcards be sure to clearly give the address of your church, your service times and times for children’s church or education programs, contact phone number and web site. Be sure also to always say something like “Your Local Community Church is there for you and your family, not only at Christmas time, but any time of the year. Please contact us if we can serve you in any way.” If you say something like that, be sure there is a team in place and ready to respond.
You could also do electronic versions of the postcards by creating electronic postcards or emails with the same content. The holiday postcard templates at www.constantcontact.com include wonderful designs that can be very useful in this way.
What it’s really all about
Another option would be a series of cards explaining the meaning of different traditions at Christmas. If you do a Google search on the web you’ll find dozens of pages with explanations of various Christmas traditions.
You could choose one tradition a week and again send out a series of cards. Again, many people today don’t know why we celebrate the traditions we do and you can give them a Christian explanation. Be sure to always remind them, that in addition to the reasons we have candy canes or Christmas trees (both with very Christian historical traditions) the “reason for the season” really is that Jesus, who was fully God, became fully man to grow up and become our Savior.
What’s most important
The most important thing about either of these communication/church marketing projects is not how fancy your clip art is or how stunning the type face that you choose. What is most important is if you create these and send them out with lots of love and prayer for the visitors to your church, you have a tangible way to let them know you care.