10 Tips For An Effective Christmas Eve Service


The Christmas season is a great time of year to have an impact for Christ in your local community! In 1995, I planted a church, and at the first Christmas Eve service (held in a high school wrestling room), we had about 75 people and one decorated Christmas tree. Over the years, I watched as the Christmas Eve services grew to over 5,000 people in attendance. Some of our most intense and creative planning went into the services for Christmas Eve. We had some great ideas and some not-so-great ideas, but here are a few hints to make your Christmas Eve services an effective outreach for your community.

1. Advertise. 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but how do you plan to get the word out to the community? Direct mail? Front yard signs scattered around town? Large banners at strategic intersections? Newspaper? Radio? Television? Make sure to advertise your Christmas Eve services on your social media outlets as well as any other resources your church has. Make sure the community knows!

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2. Keep it short! 

On our advertising, we not only put the start times for the service but also the ending times. We planned for a one-hour service, and were ruthless in keeping to that. Many people have plans to get together with family on Christmas Eve. If they know how long the service will last, they will be more likely to come. We also kept the services at an hour because we had four or five services stacked up, and we had to get people out of the parking lot so the next group could get in!

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3. Sing Christmas carols. 

Even seekers know the Christian songs of Christmas (which may not be the case at Easter)! 

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4. Provide childcare. 

Many families will want to be together for the Christmas Eve services, but providing care for infants and small toddlers can help parents and the services.

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5. Have a creative mix. 

Christmas is a joyous time, so there ought to be a lot of upbeat and fun elements in the service. But also include some moving and poignant moments. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the Civil War. Think about using it in your service with pictures of war, peace, and our men and women serving overseas in the military. It can be very moving.

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6. Keep the message short! 

I usually planned a ten-minute message during the one-hour service. It is often harder to prepare a ten-minute message than a thirty-minute message.

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7. Include annual traditions that people anticipate. 

Many churches already do this, but our church had the tradition of lighting candles as we sang Silent Night at the end of the service. It’s an amazing sight to see a couple thousand candles lighting up a room. For kids, this was what they looked forward to the most. (Just be safe!)

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8. Use all kinds of creative elements. 

Music, of course, is a huge part of Christmas. Use a drum line from the local high school to march during Little Drummer Boy. Use snow machines to create falling snow. There are many great videos with creative ideas and examples

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9. Recruit many volunteers! 

This is a great opportunity to have people in your church serve! Parking teams, carolers in the lobby, ushers, stagehands, and childcare workers are all needed. We encouraged our members to attend one service and serve at another service.

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10. The most important thing.

Have your ushers at the doors as people leave (not as they come in!), to hand out attractive flyers for the January message series. The idea is not to get them to come, but to get them to come back!

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What other elements make for great Christmas Eve services?

If you liked this, then you’ll also like 14 Questions For Planning your Best Christmas Service.

Christmas Eve Service Planning Checklist for Churches Church Staffs