This past week, I had the grand idea of baking Christmas cookies. This was one of my favorite childhood traditions and it still brings nostalgia to the forefront of my mind. Christmas cookie making is actually a tradition that I have intermittently continued into my adulthood, but this year everything was different. You might ask why everything was different and the reason, well the two reasons are my two preschool aged BOYS!
I began the task by purchasing the appropriate items at the grocery store. I giddily brought home the items and laid them out on my kitchen island. I laid out the butter, eggs, powered sugar, almond extract, milk, sprinkles, cookie cutters, parchment paper, rolling pin, pans, food dye and everything else you might imagine. I rolled the dough, cut the shapes, and baked the cookies. With great anticipation my two year-old and four year-old asked about 47 times if it was time for sprinkles yet.
Finally, it was time. I iced the cookies and my boys poured gobs of sprinkles over any place that still had frosting for something to stick too. Then we ate them and everyone was content with all the joy only Christmas can bring and then I looked around at the mess.
The nostalgia was gone, the joy was gone, and there was this plaguing thought in my mind, “was this really a good idea?” In the moment the anticipation carried me through, but in the clean up phase I was lacking energy and excitement to finish the task to completion. And while I hate to admit this, I know the job is not actually done until the kitchen is clean.
So, you might be asking, what does this have to do with Christmas follow up? Or you might be saying, I know exactly what this has to do with Christmas follow up. But if you didn’t see the analogy yet, I’ll break it down for you.
Christmas is traditionally the most highly attended service of the year. With statistics showing that most church goers only attend 1.2 times per month anyway, Christmas is the perfect time for everyone to make their monthly appearance. As ministry leaders we know this to be true, we create with the “Creasters” in mind. How can we wow them and woo them? How can we strike a chord in their heart that might make them think about coming back in the New Year?
Some churches spend months planning Christmas. The weekend experience goes on perpetually with minimal planning, but Christmas is different. It’s preparation begins months out with people pondering new ways to create an environment and experience that will draw people to Christ in a way that has never happened before. Or maybe it’s your church’s Christmas pageant that takes painstaking love to pull off year after year. Regardless, it takes a lot of preparation.
Personally, I love the creative process. I love planning, I love when all the options are on the table. I think it’s admirable and even kind of beautiful to see people care so much about creating an experience that wows people.
The event occurs and just like that it passes. Hopefully, it was spiritual and blissful and it moved people to experience God in a new way. But just like that, it’s over and you look around and there’s a mess to clean. There are 102 new guest cards. There’s no sermon series planned for the New Year and this year, specifically in two days, you have the weekend to prep for again. And all you wanted to do was to spend a few days with your family. If this is you, then like me, you forgot you were going to have to clean the kitchen.
If you’re honest, as a ministry leader it’s really easy to be in that place. It’s easy to be so consumed by the details of the event, to be so absorbed in the process of pulling off something spectacular that you forget that even when it’s over the job is not actually over until the kitchen is clean.
Yes, the point of Christmas is to create an experience that honors the day of our Savior’s birth in a way that encapsulates all his glory. But more than that, the point of the event is to help people that are far from God come into relationship with him. This only happens when those people are given a clear and simple path to come back. Following up on the momentum that was created by Christmas is crucial.
If you are not intentionally following up after Christmas then you are failing. The experience has to translate to people coming back for success to really occur.
Here are three things you need to keep in mind when you’re preparing for Christmas to have successful follow-up.
Following up on the momentum that was created by Christmas is crucial. – Stacia Stall
3 tips to help you tackle christmas follow-up
1) create with the end in mind
Every part of your experience should be created to draw people back. So, what things are you doing to help that occur? Do you have a hook, or a cliff hanger, or a super cool event around the corner that you are promoting on Christmas Eve? What about the person who comes and is not a regular attender…
- How will you connect with them at your Christmas service?
- How will you capture their information to follow up with them after?
- What technique will you utilize to actually follow up? (Email, Phone Call, Mailer with a free item promised upon their return)
These are questions that you should be able to answer.
2) time is of the essence
There is a small amount of time where the wonder of your event will linger in the attendee’s mind. If your Christmas Eve service was spectacular, they will remember that for a couple of days; but don’t be fooled, they will not remember for longer than that. Within 5 days that person should be contacted.
- Within 5 days you should definitely have emailed, called, or sent something in the mail to your first time guest.
There is something really special about being personally contacted from someone who doesn’t want anything from you except to encourage you, these little touches can make a big difference.
3) schedule volunteers before the holidays to help you do the work
Christmas time is the hardest time of year to get volunteers to commit because it’s a time for family and relaxation. But if you can impress upon a couple of volunteers that the follow-up for Christmas is potentially more important than the actual event, then you are winning. Inputting new data from the event will take time, especially if you do plan to call them or send a mailer. Plan for this inevitability ahead of time, so all this work and pressure isn’t resting on one staff member. The momentum of Christmas can actually be carried powerfully into the New Year by doing effective Christmas follow-up that wows and draws people back. This only happens when those people are given a clear and simple path to come back. So, plan with this end in mind and make a big impact for this upcoming year. You can do it!