It’s only Reformation Day (Halloween for the pagans) and we’re already thinking Christmas.  But if your church hasn’t started thinking about Christmas yet, you’ll miss a great outreach opportunity.

C Michael Johnson and Tom Bowers have written a great marketing piece called “The 12 Mistakes of Christmas Outreach.”  Yes, they want you to buy their outreach products, but they have some of the best approaches I’ve seen (and no, I don’t get paid to say so.)  The introduction to the guide begins saying the authors “strongly believe any church that takes active steps to avoid these mistakes will dramatically increase the effectiveness of their outreach. Christmas outreach done in the way described here will positively impact every other facet of a church’s ministry, and many of the recommendations provide smarter ways to plan for the whole year. ”

Got your attention?

Mistake #1 is “Not planning for something great.”

We live in a world of extraordinary things. The mistake often made is to settle for the ordinary, familiar….or safe. Familiarity does not always breed contempt. But settling for the ordinary and the all-too-familiar may breed something else. … The Big Idea does not necessarily mean big budget, or big staff, or big splash. Small can be remarkable

Mistake #2 is almost the same:  Doing little or nothing during Christmas

With all the messages crowding for attention, all the competing distractions, all the busyness and demands for time and focus, it’s tempting to decide not to try anything special during Christmas. … unchurched people only visit a church they have heard of. Unchurched people motivated to attend a service (say, at Christmas or Easter) are almost certain to choose a church that has captured their awareness at that particular time. To maintain high awareness, a church needs to have a strong community presence during the strategically important Christmas season.

I highly recommend you read this guide, and then you get ready to do something.  Make it consistent with yoru message, but do something special.  Tell your community you’re doing it and then do it the best you can, even with limited budget.  Even if it’s caroling around the neighborhood, Christmas eve vespers, free gift wrap service, or Christmas present storage so prying eyes don’t look until Christmas eve, do something!

The guide is found here.

Aaron Ivey has a great post asking what value your church has in your community.  Or more specifically, if your church did not recover, but closed its doors, would anyone outside your congregation notice?

What value does your church add to the community?  Why would the city continue to grant you tax exempt status, in that you “earn” that right by providing some amount of community good?

We’re not asking if you add value to the Kingdom.  That’s a different question.  That asks how long it’s been since your baptismal pool was filled.  It asks how many neighborhood kids come to VBS.  That question wants to know the total hours spent in prayer for the community’s citizens & leaders, for missionaries, for Gospel purposes.

he question here is whether your congregation adds any community value?  Do you run a food closet? teach reading or parenting? give the kids something to do after school or in the summer?  open your property to community recreation?

I was part of a church in New England that opened its doors to provide day camp to the community every July.  We passed out water at the town’s fall festival.  We sponsored the graduation Baccalaureate.  And we prayed for our community.  When we built a new building, we went out of our way to hire local contractors and construction workers, which put an extra half million into the economy.  When we were faithful, new members came to grow the church.

Maybe you start small.  Community fun festival.  Spaghetti supper and free movies in the air conditioned fellowship hall.  Preschool soccer on the front lawn.

Just do something!