Christmas is an exciting time for churches. It’s one of the easiest opportunities to bring a friend or family member to “Come hear little Johnny sing…” Not only will a friend hear Johnny sing, but they’ll hear music they’re familiar with, be reminded of the Christmas story, and have an evening out.
Each church’s goals for their Christmas concert are different: Some use it as an opportunity to get people who haven’t been to their church in the building to see what it’s like to be there, some for showcasing talents that otherwise are unnoticed, and others use it as an opportunity to reach people with the Gospel.
(side note: Clearly defining your goal will help you and your team make decisions about the concert.)
So you’ve decided what your goal is, music is picked, program is set and now you need to find ways to get people in the door. On a personal level, I believe the best opportunity is word of mouth. It’s relational and the most likely to succeed, plus if you can encourage your members to invite a friend at the easiest time of year for them to get a “Yes” then they’ll be encouraged to continue it the rest of the year. Most of these methods depend on word of mouth, and the others will support it in some way.
Here are some free ideas:
1) Create a Facebook Event:
Create a Facebook event with your concert poster image, invite your members and request that they invite their friends. Leading up to the concert, post images and videos of rehearsals, warm ups, set design, lighting setup and whatever else is going into the concert. People love seeing behind the scenes of how something is put together and this will get them excited about coming to the concert. If they like or comment on a photo in the event, it will get shared on their wall (depending on privacy settings) and their friends will be able to join the event too.
A bonus feature to clicking the ‘going’ button on a Facebook event is that they’ll get a reminder when that event is coming up.
2) Design images that members can use to invite their friends:
This has worked really well for us before. Make 4 or 5 email and social media friendly image (ie. smaller than 1000px by 1000px and less than 100K) that they can forward or post on their own social media channels. (You can download 5 pre-made templates that we used for FREE here)
The upside to creating multiple images is that people can choose the 1 or 2 that they think would best suit them.
Using the same background, have one that says ‘Would you join me for an evening of Christmas Music?” and another that says “It’s a Christmas Concert! What are you waiting for?!”
3) Send out 2 mass emails:
The First Email:
The first email goes to your members – this can be 4 or 5 weeks before the concert. Include the images above, a link to the Facebook event and encourage them with some ideas on who to invite.
Not sure who it invite? Here are some ideas:
Your Boss / Manager / Employees
The last client you did business with
The most recent supplier you made a purchase from
The neighbor on either side of your house
Your Building Superintendent
A Coach or instructor from music lessons/sports/the gym
That cousin you’ve been meaning to take for dinner for a while
You get the picture. This is more of a way to spur ideas than a checklist.
The Second Email:
The second email goes out 2 weeks before your concert. This is an email list of people who have visited your church at least in the past 12 months. This could simply say “You’re invited.” with the images/concert poster. This may just be the opportunity they need to find an excuse or an opening in their schedule to come back for another visit.
4) Run a “Who are you inviting?” campaign:
Using your already existing Facebook/twitter/youtube/Instagram/snapchat following for your church, post the images created to be sent out in the email and ask people to share them to invite others. Literally, ask people “Who are you inviting?” As they respond, it will create ideas for other people to share. Put up posters through your building, in the parking lot, in the bulletin, during announcements, etc. to push this idea that everyone can invite someone.
Remind your members that statistically, 4 out of 5 people will say no, so if they ask 1 person who says no, they can keep asking others. Have everyone set a goal to ask 5 people, and a very high percentage of them will get at least one “Yes.” Just because someone said no, doesn’t mean they don’t like the church. Maybe they have a family function, aren’t feeling well when you asked, or simply aren’t interested. That’s fine – find the 4 others on your list to ask.
Take this a step further if you choose and create postcards that can be sent out. Everyone brings 5 addresses of people they would like to invite. You print the postcards, they put on the address and then you pay the postage to mail them.
5) Craigslist and online event calendars:
It takes only a few minutes, it’s free and you can often add some pictures and tell what your concert will be like.
6) Use your church property as signage:
Your church may have a sign already lit up front, others may not. People drive by that property all the time and may or may not realize you’re there. A sign will let them know you’re there, let them know about the Christmas concert and give a landmark for when they choose to come to the concert (ie. Coming to the concert? We’re the ones with the 4 storey Red Banner on Main Street.)
It doesn’t have to be a traditional sign on posts on the road. It could be painting the windows of your building to advertise the event, covering over an existing sign, using trees or bushes to string a sign across (with a string of lights, of course) or one of those rental signs with an arrow and blinking lights. Start with the “What if?” and work your way to what matches your concert goal and budget.
You could also give your people yard signs for their lawn, posters for their HOA clubhouse or common space in their work or to hang in their front windows for people to see.
7) Give your members a “What’s In It For Me?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “We did this big event and advertised it and our own members didn’t even come.” and the reason is, they didn’t hear about the “What’s in it for me” factor.
Make it clear why this is an event worth attending. Let them know internally (ie. during a service) so they’ll see the benefit of coming themselves and bringing a member. This will be dependant on your concert goal.
Some ideas: Pastor will be singing a solo, the kids will be singing 3 songs (This is great for opening the door to bringing relatives), we have our full choir singing, we’re doing multimedia and video with every song, renting fog machines and lights, live animals, entirely composed in house, live band, etc.
Maybe their “What’s in it for me?” is an opportunity to serve. Someone may be a great singer, but not have the time in their schedule to be a part of the worship team, but they could sing for this concert. Others may love outreach, and would be happy to serve hot chocolate and apple cider after the concert and talk with the new people while some may love to decorate and be willing to help with set design or decorating the building.
When your members see a reason to be excited to come themselves, they’ll talk about it and invite others too.
Have another idea not on this list? What has worked for you before? Share your idea in the comments below!