Christmas Eve service presents a tremendous opportunity for congregations to reached the unchurched for many reasons.
Christmas Eve service presents a tremendous opportunity for congregations to reached the unchurched for many reasons. (Flickr )

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It is likely the single day of the year more unchurched decide to visit a church.

It is an incredible opportunity for most congregations.

Although Easter is the day most churchgoers decide to show up at the same time, Christmas Eve is indeed prime time for the unchurched. Why is that? Here are five key reasons:

1. The Christmas seasons brings family members together from disparate locations. In many homes, there is likely to be a mix of churched and unchurched family members on Christmas Eve. The unchurched are often encouraged to go to a Christmas Eve service with their Christian family members.

2. Most unchurched have some sentimental attachment to Christmas. They may not be overtly religious, but they have some warm memories of Christmas Eve and the entire Christmas season.

3. Most unchurched know and like the songs of Christmas. They are confident they can go to a church service on Christmas Eve and hear those songs.

4. The unchurched are looking for hope in the Christmas season. Many of them come on Christmas Eve expecting to hear a message of hope or to sing the songs of the hope-filled message of Christ's birth.

5. Christmas is one of the few times tradition is embraced by most people, especially the unchurched. Thus the unchurched fully expect to walk into a Christmas Eve service and to sense, hear and embrace those traditions.

Our research points toward this singular day as an opportunity to reach people churches may never reach otherwise. Here are some concluding points to consider.

  • Don't count on Christmas Day to be a good day to reach the unchurched. They are busy with family, opening gifts and enjoying meals.
  • Keep Christmas Eve services brief. Most are around 30 minutes, rarely more than 45 minutes.
  • Most churches do not have childcare for the service. They promote it as a family service. That's another reason to keep it brief.
  • Any message or preaching should be brief as well, around 10 minutes.
  • Sing the well-known songs of Christ's birth; keep it traditional and simple.
  • Many churches end the Christmas Eve service with a candlelight song, typically "Silent Night." Make certain you have a way to capture each guest's information.
  • Make certain you have a plan in place to follow up, even if it's just a brief email.

Christmas Eve is a critically important day to reach the unchurched. Share with me your thoughts and what your church does.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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