5 Keys to Planning for Christmas



5 Keys to Planning for Christmas

By Jeremiah Semmler

Christmas can be an especially fruitful time of ministry for pastors. But it can also be a very stressful time for pastors, their families and church volunteers and staff. Planning ahead and planning intentionally for Christmas services and experiences at your church can help you, your family and your team avoid the stress this Christmas. Follow these five simple keys for planning this Christmas and enjoy Christmas again!

  • Plan to Plan

Pick a month that you would like to begin planning for your Christmas services, series and experiences at your church. Now challenge yourself to start planning a month earlier than that. July is certainly not too early to start planning for Christmas. The plan is going to be a process, not a single meeting.

Early planning cannot be over emphasized. Early planning will help create a great Christmas experience not just for your church but for you and your staff. Early planning will help alleviate stress during a very stressful time of year for pastors and their families. Early planning will save your church money. Early planning will help make the following planning tips possible and successful.

Christmas messages, series and experiences don’t just happen, they must be planned.

  • Plan for Your Audiences

Let’s state the obvious, many different people are coming to your church for Christmas. Do you have a plan for the different groups of people?

Before they can be planned for and communicated to, they must be identified. Take a minute to think about and jot down at least 5 different groups of people that will be attending your church during the Christmas season.

For example:

first time guests

your church members

families with young children

single parents

grandparents & retirees

couples with no kids

college students that are home for Christmas

Use the following questions to help you prepare:

What are the groups we want to focus on?

What do these groups want or need during Christmas?

What are needs can we as a church help meet and/or address?

How can we meet these needs during December?

How can we meet the needs of these groups during the month of January?

What can we plan to do or say during the service(s) that will speak value and hope into these groups? (or otherwise meet the identified needs) What kinds of things should we avoid saying and doing in order to reach and love these groups?

In slowly walking through this audience exercise, your Christmas services will become more intentional and transformational.

  • Plan for the Future

Christmas is a great time to point people to what’s coming up next. Now is the time to plan what that will be. Make sure that when people come to your church in December they hear, see and learn about what your church will be doing in January. Simply put, this is answering their internal question, “Why should I come back?”. This also answers the questions, “What kind of church is this and what do they really value?”.

What is one thing your church is launching or doing in January? Include this in your planning over the next few months so you are ready to present it to everyone who comes to your church this December.

  • Plan with a team

Your Christmas planning, like other planning, is done best in a team format. No matter how big or small your church is, there are teams of people that can be and should be part of your Christmas planning.

First, take a minute and think of the different directors, pastors and/or volunteer leaders that you want to include. Second, break that group of people into different teams. Not everyone should be in every team or meeting. The bigger the team the more difficult getting things done becomes. Third, communicate the overall direction and vision for the Christmas services at your church. Be sure to tell every team what the next step or experience is for January. It’s important for every team to be aware of that to help them point everyone they come in contact with in the same direction. Fourth, determine a goal or project for each team. Fifth, follow up with each team to help them to take steps toward a great December experience.

WARNING: Don’t neglect communicating to your teams the key information and changes made to any December plans. For example, if service times are added or service times change for Christmas service(s) be sure to communicate that to every team ASAP. There is nothing more frustrating for a team (staff or volunteer) than for them to be left out of key information.

  • Plan the message

An obvious one but still necessary to discuss. The message will need to speak to the groups of people that you have chosen to focus on and are planning for. Also your message and/or series will need to be about Christmas. As tempting as it is to create “fresh and creative” content in December that is not really about Christmas, don’t do it. Christmas is about Christmas and it’s what people expect and want to hear about. God putting on human flesh and being born in a manger to be the hope and light to a dark and dying world is what people need to hear. That story never gets old. The “fresh and creative” will come in how you choose to communicate that story to the groups of people you are planning for.

Leading Horses to Water

horse to water cartoon
The old sayings goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”
Remember that saying isn’t giving us permission to not water the horses!
In other words even in difficult times keep leading the horses to water.
Wise leaders look for the one or two things they can do. Then they do them!
So during difficult times make it a priority to do what you can and what you should and leave the rest to the Lord.