Imagine a new restaurant comes to your town—a fast food joint. They know Christmas is a huge food holiday, and they want to get tons of people to know about their restaurant. So they have the brilliant idea to offer a Christmas meal for free. They plan to prepare a big Christmas meal for everyone who walks through their doors and give it away for free.
So they make amazing meals. They roast a beautiful turkey, glaze a mouthwatering ham, make stuffing…cranberry sauce…tamales, even. Then they advertise the promotion and serve the lunches for free. Droves flock to the restaurant to get this special promotion. It’s a huge success.
But then, the week after the promotion, the restaurant is shocked that nobody shows up at their doors. Nobody wants to buy their hamburgers and french fries. It seems they gained no new customers beyond their regulars. What went wrong?
You see, the problem for the restaurant wasn’t in their promotion. It wasn’t in the quality of their product. The problem was that the free sample they gave to the world didn’t represent their actual product. The Christmas meal was amazing, but it was completely different than their usual fare.
How many times do churches do this same thing? They know Christmas is a huge time where people visit churches. So they craft a super special Christmas service that’s completely different from their normal ones. They promote the heck out of the Christmas services. Tons of people flow in through their doors for the event. But nobody shows up after the event because they all know that’s not what the service is normally like.
They wasted this opportunity to give people a real sample of their food. What should they have done instead?
Let’s look back at the fast food restaurant. They should have given people samples of their real food. Yes, they should have made sure everything was on point, but it should have been representative of what they normally produce.
It would make sense to change up the packaging a bit for the Christmas promotion. It would make sense to modify the burger slightly to make it a special Christmas version. But they should have shown their guests what they could expect when they came back the following week.
I don’t think it’s any different for churches.
You have a powerful opportunity to reach people who may never again experience your church service. Why would you make it drastically different from your regular church services? You miss the opportunity to invite them back for more of what they enjoyed during Christmas.
So plan a great Christmas service. Make sure everything is great quality. Package it beautifully. Throw some Christmas flare in there. But let your Christmas service reflect your normal services.
Then let your attendees know. Invite them back. “Did you like this? There’s a whole lot more where that came from!”
Don’t serve turkey and stuffing when you’re a hamburger church. And certainly don’t serve hamburgers when you’re a fine-dining church. Be who you are and be jolly. Merry Christmas!
Jonathan Malm – author and creative genius behind Church Stage Design Ideas (CSDI). He writes and speaks about the creative process – especially for churches. Call him a resource for the church creative wanting to make their ministry better. In addition to CSDI, Jonathan is the man behind sundaymag.tv, seriesideas.com, worshipsetideas.com, and jonathanmalm.com. He is a leading voice in the church media industry and has a depth of experience as a conference speaker, director, and writer.
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