I have to confess. For a church season that is focused on anticipation and preparation, I don’t have the best track record when it comes to anticipating or preparing for Advent (and Christmas) communication efforts in the months leading up to it. This often results in a bunch of hurrying and scurrying in a time set aside to for reflection, repentance, and preparation to celebrate Jesus’ first coming and wait expectantly for his return.
In an effort to combat the mid-November dash, I’m putting to use an Advent checklist this fall. What follows is far from exhaustive, but hopefully it will get those creative and practical planning wheels turning.
Work with your pastor and other church leaders to determine the specific Scriptural focus for the season of Advent in your congregation and how that leads into Christmas. Rooted in God’s Word, you can begin to develop a theme that will be explored throughout this season in the church year. Looking for a starting point? LCMS Worship developed this planning resource for congregations.
Once you have your focus and confirm service times (midweek, Christmas, and any other special services), begin including the information in your bulletin or printed announcements. If you make use of a printed newsletter, make sure the dates and times are in there as well!
Do you mail out invitations or church Christmas cards to those in your community, or are you thinking about doing so this year? Get the design process rolling and look into your printing options.
Families are making plans now and will most likely check your website first for midweek Advent services, along with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship. With the holiday falling over a weekend this year, it’s especially important to communicate any changes to the regular worship service times.
Consider creating a simple video overview and invitation for those who visit your website. Concisely share what Advent and Christmas are all about and why you’re excited for the upcoming season! This is a way for visitors to “meet” your pastor or other leaders and be welcomed to your facility, adding a layer of familiarity before they step through the door.
Last week, Kimberly Myers shared a number of excellent social media ideas for Advent to begin working on ASAP. I can’t help but echo her recommendation of the Advent photo-a-day challenge! Our congregation made use of this plan last year and noticed several things.
First, there was an increase in social media activity and engagement on our church’s page. Since this type of challenge calls for participants to post photos to their own timeline/feed using specific hashtags to connect them to the larger collection, it proved to be a great witness and conversation tool for our members, providing a framework to share their faith with their online audiences.
Finally, these pictures and the stories they told connected people face-to-face. The first Sunday after the challenge launched, I heard countless conversations in our welcome area related to the pictures and accompanying Advent reflections that were being shared in digital spaces.
As November begins, share your service times and other special events with those driving by your campus by including them on your outdoor sign.
In addition to special worship services, there are also many other Advent and Christmas events and resources that can slip through the communication cracks. Consider creating a church family calendar for the month of December highlighting the key dates and including materials members might find helpful:
As you set out or continue on this adventure, craft content that sends a cohesive message regardless of the platform through which it’s being delivered. Different communication mediums call for different ways to deliver material, yet our efforts are most effective when a common thread connects each piece and brings focus to a bigger picture.
Of course, the bigger picture to which we point is Jesus. As we prepare for and celebrate his coming into our world as an infant and wait expectantly for his return, we communicate to share the sure hope found in Jesus alone and to bring others into his family.
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