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Embracing and Harnessing Social Media for Christmas Outreach
Ten Tips for Greater Social Engagement During Advent and Christmas
Social Media Christmas is a time of profound outreach potential for churches, a season ripe with opportunities to embody their core mission of evangelism and service. It's a period when the collective heart is open wider, the spirit of giving is in the air, and even those farthest from religious life might peer into the church with curiosity and hope.
Recognizing this, the church can strategically use this festive time to extend a warm invitation to the unchurched and unreached.
I wanted to take a moment and share ten social media ideas to try this Christmas season. Through various engaging digital initiatives—such as behind-the-scenes preparations on social media, interactive Advent calendars, and inspiring live video sessions—churches can weave a narrative of inclusion and community.
Please know one thing: these ideas are not just about increasing attendance; they're about opening doors to a haven of support and belonging. They offer a space for reflection, renewal, and the formation of lasting traditions.
As churches reach out to the unchurched during Christmas, they lay the foundation for a community that thrives on kindness, service, and the shared joy of the season.
Showcase Behind-the-Scenes Content
I have often said, sharing behind-the-scenes content is one of the best ways a church can stand out in a crowded social media world. By pulling back the curtain, the church can showcase the preparation and effort that goes into making Christmas services special, creating a narrative that followers feel a part of. This approach humanizes the church staff and volunteers, fostering a sense of connection and community. It demonstrates the church's dedication to creating a meaningful experience, which can inspire people to participate in person.
Such content also provides an opportunity to highlight the diversity of church activities and the many ways people can get involved, from decorating the sanctuary to rehearsing for the Christmas choir. This transparency can motivate those who might not typically attend church to consider visiting, as they see the genuine enthusiasm and welcoming nature of the church community.
- Post of the Choir Practicing
- Visual: A candid video clip of the choir rehearsing a captivating Christmas hymn, with the choir director leading.
- Caption: "A sneak peek into our choir's rehearsal! Their voices are set to fill the church with melodies that celebrate the season. Feel the spirit of Christmas with us this Eve. #BehindTheScenes #ChoirRehearsal #ChristmasCarols"
- Engagement Strategy: Engage the audience by asking them to guess the hymn or share their favorite Christmas song. Use behind-the-scenes hashtags and encourage followers to share the post, offering an insider look at the church's preparations.
Build an Interactive Advent Calendar
I don't know about you, but one of my earliest childhood memories was sitting at the kitchen table and opening a small cardboard cut out window in the advent calendar my Grandma would give us each year. Amazingly, there was no gift associated with the exercise, and it was the single most simple design, but there was something about it - mainly that we were one day closer to the big day.
Why not move the Advent calendar to Facebook! This digital approach can create a sense of daily ritual and participation, inviting followers to return to the your Facebook page each day for a new surprise. As each day of Advent passes, followers receive a piece of content that might include inspirational quotes, scripture passages, service teasers, or even daily challenges or acts of kindness to perform.
This form of outreach plays into the natural human curiosity and love for patterns and traditions, which can increase the sense of anticipation and participation in the lead-up to Christmas. It also allows for the sharing of diverse content that can appeal to a wide range of followers, from spiritual reflections to family-friendly activities, thereby reaching different segments of the audience.
- Post for December 1st - Day 1 of Advent
- Visual: A digital image of an Advent calendar window opening to reveal a scripture verse
- Caption: "Welcome to Day 1 of our Virtual Advent Calendar! Each day brings us closer to the joy of Christmas. Today's scripture reminds us of the hope this season brings. Join us tonight for a live discussion on the meaning behind these words. #AdventJourney #HopefulDecember"
- Engagement Strategy: Encourage followers to 'Like' and 'Share' the daily post, and to participate in the comments with their reflections or by sharing how they're preparing for Christmas. Create a Facebook event for the live discussion to remind and bring people together.
Live video can be an exceptionally engaging tactic for churches looking to drive interest and attendance during the Christmas season. Most every social media channel has a broad reach, and their live streaming capabilities offer a platform to connect in real time. Live sessions can range from discussions and teachings to live performances and Q&A segments, providing an opportunity for interaction and deepening the sense of community.
These sessions can be practical if they cover topics relevant to the season, such as the meaning of Advent, reflections on the year, or preparations for Christmas. They can also be used to showcase the warmth and welcoming nature of the church community, inviting viewers to visit in person for a full experience.
- Live Session for the Weeks in Advent
- Visual: A scheduled live stream event thumbnail featuring an Advent wreath with two candles lit.
- Title: "Advent Reflections Live: Peace in Preparation"
- Description: "Join us LIVE for our second week of Advent reflections. We'll be discussing 'Peace in Preparation' and how we can find tranquility in the busy season. Expect music, meditation, and a live Q&A with our pastoral team. Tune in and find peace with us."
- Engagement Strategy: Use the church's social media accounts to promote the live event, encouraging people to subscribe and turn on notifications for the YouTube channel. During the live session, encourage viewers to participate in the live chat, ask questions, and share their own advent experiences.
Share Christmas Recipes
Everyone has a great Christmas recipe; from your Grandmother's Bread Pudding with Nutmeg to your mother's Butterscotch Yule Log.
Sharing Christmas recipes on Facebook is an effective way for a church to engage its community. This strategy taps into the universal love for holiday foods and traditions and can be a warm, inviting way to remind people of the church's presence and activities during Christmas.
By posting recipes, the church can encourage members to share their own, turning the page into a vibrant exchange of traditions and tastes. It's an opportunity to celebrate the diversity within the church community, as members contribute recipes from different cultures and family traditions.
- "12 Days of Christmas Recipes!"
- Visual: High-quality, appetizing photo of the finished dish, perhaps with festive decorations in the background.
- Caption: "Our '12 Days of Christmas Delights' begins with Mrs. Thompson's famous Gingerbread Cookies! Perfect for sharing with family or as a treat after our Christmas Eve service. Find the recipe below and share your baking moments with us! #ChristmasDelights #ChurchFamilyRecipes"
- Engagement Strategy: Encourage engagement by asking followers to comment with photos of their own gingerbread creations or to share their family's favorite Christmas recipe. The church could also invite members to a live baking session on Facebook Live, where they cook the recipe in real-time and interact with viewers.
Personal stories are powerful, and they resonate exceptionally well on social media, as they are relatable and can influence others by showing the church's impact on individual lives. By sharing these stories, the church can demonstrate its role as a place of transformation, support, and community, which can be particularly appealing during the reflective Christmas season.
Instagram Stories are inherently personal and ephemeral (there's your word of the day: short-lasting), making them an ideal medium for sharing day-to-day moments that don’t need to be polished to be impactful. The raw and authentic nature of Stories can make testimonials feel more relatable and genuine.
Example: Instagram Stories
- Why I Love Christmas at _____ Church
- Visual: A series of video clips or images featuring a church member sharing their testimonial, possibly with subtle Christmas decor in the background.
- Caption: "Meet John. His journey of faith has been remarkable. Swipe up to hear how our Christmas Eve service was a turning point for him. #TransformationTuesday #ChristmasStory"
- Engagement Strategy: Utilize features like ‘Swipe Up’ to link directly to a video testimonial, or use the ‘Questions’ sticker to invite viewers to ask questions about the church’s Christmas services. Highlight these Stories for longer visibility and encourage viewers to ‘Direct Message’ the church with their own stories.
Create a Unique Christmas Gift Guide
What to give? It's a question we all struggle with. Consider creating a unique Christmas gift-giving guide as an inventive and meaningful way for a church to use social media to promote the spirit of Christmas. By curating a list of thoughtful, affordable gifts, the church can emphasize the values of generosity and mindfulness during the holiday season. This guide can spotlight items from local artisans, businesses, and fair trade organizations, encouraging the community to invest in ethical and impactful purchasing. Featuring products that give back—a portion of proceeds going to charity, for instance—aligns with your message of compassion and service.
Sharing this guide across the church’s social media platforms can inspire followers to choose presents that not only delight their loved ones but also contribute to the welfare of others and the local economy. Moreover, this approach can foster community partnerships and showcase how faith and action can intersect in everyday choices like holiday gift-giving.
Creating a unique Christmas gift exchange on Facebook can be an inventive way for a church to engage with its congregation and encourage community interaction during the holiday season. A gift exchange event can be both a celebration of giving and a fun activity that brings people together. By utilizing Facebook’s features, such as Events and Groups, the church can organize the exchange, making it accessible to a wide audience.
The gift exchange could have a meaningful twist, such as encouraging handmade gifts, items supporting local businesses, or donations made in someone’s honor. This not only promotes the spirit of Christmas but also supports the local economy and charitable causes.
- Gift Exchange Event Post
- Visual: A festive and inviting graphic with wrapped gifts under a Christmas tree.
- Caption: "Join our 'Gifts of the Heart' Christmas Exchange! This year, we're celebrating the season of giving with a twist. Instead of store-bought gifts, we invite you to craft something special, support a local artisan, or donate to a charity in a loved one's name. Let's share the joy of meaningful giving!"
- Engagement Strategy: Create a Facebook event for the gift exchange and encourage members to RSVP. Use the event page to share updates, gift ideas, and feature stories of community impact. Encourage participants to post photos of their gifts or the charities they're supporting, using a unique hashtag like #GiftsofHeartExchange.
Hold Photo and Video Contests
I have always said the best way to unleash creativity is to encourage creativity. And there is no better way to do that than to launch a video or photo contest on social media - it can be a dynamic outreach ministry for Christmas. It invites the congregation and community to express their festive spirit and share their celebrations creatively. This participatory approach fosters a sense of community and belonging. As entries are liked, shared, and commented on, they organically boost engagement and visibility, extending the church's reach. The shared content can touch hearts, stir nostalgia, and draw newcomers to the church's message of joy and fellowship.
- Caption: "Our annual 'Celebrate Christmas Spirit' photo contest is back! Share your favorite Christmas moment using #CelebrateChristmasSpirit and tag us for a chance to win a special feature on our page and a cozy Christmas hamper. From your twinkling tree to your family feast, let's spread the joy of the season together!"
- Engagement Strategy: Use consistent and catchy hashtags like #CelebrateChristmasSpirit to track entries. Encourage participants to like, comment, and share submissions, boosting interaction. Offer incentives such as featuring winning photos on the church’s Instagram and in the church itself during services.
Reach the Unreached
Reaching the unreached and the unchurched during Christmas aligns with the fundamental mission of the church to spread its message and embody the inclusive spirit of Christian hospitality. Christmas, a time of heightened openness to giving and community, offers a unique opportunity to connect with those who may not regularly attend church or who have never been part of a faith community.
Social media advertising allows you to do this very effectively. A tangible example of using Facebook ads to reach agnostics and non-believers could look like the one below.
Facebook Ad Campaign
- Ad Content: A compelling image of a diverse group of people engaged in a community service project organized by the church with the text overlay, "Join Us for Community and Connection This Christmas."
- Headline: "Celebrate Togetherness This Season at [Church Name]"
- Description: "Looking for a place to connect and give back this holiday season? Whether you're spiritual, searching, or simply seeking community, you're welcome here. Join us for our special Christmas events focused on togetherness and helping those in need."
- Targeting Strategy: Demographics: Target a broad age range, focusing on adults 18-65+. Interests: Select interests such as "Volunteering," "Community Service," "Wellness," "Mindfulness," and "Family Events." Behavior: Target users who engage with non-religious community groups, social work, and local community events.
- Call to Action: "Learn More" - linking to a landing page on the church’s website detailing the Christmas event schedule, emphasizing the non-religious aspects such as community meal sharing, charity drives, and family-friendly activities.
Hold a Virtual Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long
Full Disclosure: This is not my lane, and best reserved for those who can actually sing.
A virtual Christmas carol sing-along is an excellent way to utilize social media for promotion because it taps into the universal joy of music and the collective spirit of the season. Singing carols is a cherished tradition that transcends religious boundaries, appealing to a broad audience, which can increase the church's visibility. It encourages participation from those who might not physically attend church, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of inclusivity.
Going live on social media for the sing-along can create a real-time communal experience, allowing interaction through comments and reactions, making participants feel like part of a larger family. This shared experience can be especially compelling for those who are alone during the holidays or are seeking a sense of community.
Moreover, such an event is shareable content that attendees are likely to engage with, thus organically expanding the church's reach as participants share the live event with their networks. It showcases the church as a hub of activity and joy, potentially attracting new members who enjoy the virtual engagement and decide to experience similar warmth in person.
Example: Tik Tok
- Initial Video Post: The church posts a TikTok video of the choir singing a popular Christmas carol, inviting users to join in.
- Caption: "Join our Global Christmas Carol Sing-Along! �� Duet this video with your rendition of [Carol Name] and let’s spread the joy and warmth of the season together! #ChristmasCarols #SingWithUs #GlobalCarol"
- Engagement Strategy: Users are encouraged to create a duet with the original church video, singing along or adding musical accompaniment. They can then post it on their TikTok with the specified hashtags, which could trend and encourage more participation.
- Follow-up: The church reposts and features some of the best duets, creating a compilation video of the global community coming together in song.
Embrace the Christmas Countdown
A series of countdown posts on social media is an excellent tactic to boost attendance at Christmas services. This strategy works by building anticipation and keeping the event at the forefront of users' minds as the holiday approaches.
It’s a daily reminder of the church’s presence and the upcoming celebrations, serving as a consistent touchpoint in the fast-paced digital stream where attention is absolutely fleeting these days.
Each post can highlight different aspects of your Christmas service—special music, candlelight vigils, messages of hope—providing a teaser that piques interest and encourages sharing. This method also allows for the gradual unveiling of what attendees can expect, creating a narrative that followers can become invested in over time.
- Post for 5 Days Until Christmas
- Visual: An image of a beautifully lit advent candle with the number '5' superimposed.
- Caption: "Just 5 days until we come together to celebrate the joy of Christmas! Today we light the candle of Love, reminding us of the warmth and care we share with our community. Join us for a special message of love at our Christmas Eve service. #ChristmasCountdown #5Days #CandleOfLove"
- Engagement Strategy: Use relevant hashtags like #ChristmasCountdown and #AdventLove to increase discoverability. Encourage followers to tag friends and family who they'd like to attend the service with.
By employing this tactic, the church doesn’t just announce service times; it shares a story and creates a journey that culminates in the actual Christmas services. The countdown serves as a digital advent calendar, with each post unlocking a bit more of the holiday's mystery and magic, compelling followers to experience the full story in person at the church.
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