Christmas Eve is one of the three days unchurched people are most likely to come to church. (The other two are Easter and Mother’s Day.)
This is a prime opportunity to bring newcomers into your church and engage those who come, but most people miss this opportunity because they’re unsure whom to invite or how to go about it.
There are lots of reasons we don’t invite people to church, even at Christmas.
We think it’s too invasive, or
We don’t think we know any unchurched people, or
we’re afraid to ask anyone for anything, or
We’re afraid they won’t like it, or
We don’t know what to say.
In fact, a pleasant invitation to a social event is almost always seen as an honor, even if declined. And you know plenty of people well enough to recommend a good movie or a new restaurant. Think of it in those terms, and you’ll be more likely to come out of your shell.
Most people get that Christmas has something to do with the birth of Jesus, and anyone with even a mild interest in Christianity may be open to your invitation to attend church.
But they won’t come if they’re not invited.
Here are seven steps you can take to offer a pleasant, respectful invitation for anyone to visit your church on Christmas Eve.
1. Decide you want to do this. Christmas Eve is a busy time. You’ll have to carve out a slice of that night to spend with people who aren’t family and won’t be giving you presents.
2. Say what’s good about the service. “The kids’ program is so adorable” or “Our pastor is such an interesting speaker” or “The candle lighting is absolutely gorgeous.” Whatever you like about Christmas Eve, say that.
3. Offer to host. Walking into a church for the first time is daunting, even for churched people. Let them know they won’t face that awkward moment standing in the foyer, unsure what to do next.
4. Be clear about the time and place. Rave cards are great for this. If you don’t have them, at least write it on your business card, a napkin, whatever.
5. Don’t attach strings. People will respond best when they sense that you are simply offering something to them, not asking something from them.
6. Actually invite them. “You’d be most welcome” won’t get anybody there. Offer an actual invitation, complete with call to action. “I think you’d really like it, and I would love to have you join me. What do you say?”
7. Take no for an answer. Inviting is part of relationship building, and this is no time for the hard sell. Let the Holy Spirit handle it from there.
If your church is intent on reaching unchruched people and doing even a decent job at it, your friends will have a great experience and want to come back. Your role is simply to get them in the door.
You could do that, couldn’t you?