The holidays are upon us and many are wondering how church services will look in light of COVID-19.
People turn to the church to celebrate important traditions, such as Midnight Mass, Advent, Christmas services, and the celebration of the Epiphany. About 60% of Americans attend services at Christmas, whether they regularly practice Christianity or not.
Churches often use this time to run their annual giving stewardship campaigns. These funds are what sustain ministries throughout the year.
Churches need to be creative and leverage outreach ideas in order to engage the community and raise funds for the year. How can you maintain a connection with your parishioners and grow your church?
Keep reading to learn the top outreach tips you can use this holiday season.
1. Live Stream Services
Many churches are still open for in-person worship services. Still, many parishioners are hesitant to attend services because COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, with some cases linked to church services.
You have a responsibility to keep your parishioners safe, especially the most vulnerable populations. It’s important to keep them engaged even when they’re not at services.
Remember that church is everywhere your parishioners are. One way to keep your parishioners engaged is to live stream services.
Live streaming church services does take some technical know-how. You can choose to stream services on YouTube or on Facebook live. Not everyone has Facebook or understands YouTube, so you may need to consider other live streaming options.
The best thing you can do is have two links on your church website. One has a direct link to the live stream. The second one has a copy of the weekly church bulletin so everyone can follow along.
2. Keep Ministries Active
Churches often participate in various activities to raise funds and provide toys and clothing for all members of the community.
These drives provide much-needed resources to others throughout the community. Churches are challenged to find ways to run these drives in the middle of a global pandemic and keep everyone safe.
What you can do is have a drive-by food and clothing drive. You give a set day and time for people to come by and drop off donations.
You can also broadcast the drive on a live stream. This can encourage people who are watching to donate online and get involved.
There may be other ministries that your church has, such as Adult Formation and Youth Ministries. These ministries shouldn’t stop because of the pandemic. You can keep these going with regularly scheduled online meetings.
3. Have a Virtual Advent Calendar
Advent is the four-week period to mark the coming of Christ. One of the favorite traditions of families all over is to countdown the days before Christmas with an advent calendar.
Some calendars have a bit of chocolate for each day, which kids of all ages look forward to.
Your church can host a live-streamed advent calendar. Each day at the same time, you have a surprise for families in your community. One example is to have a member of the choir perform a solo. Another is to have Santa Claus show up for a visit.
4. Send Handwritten Notes to Parishioners
Many are still struggling with the lack of real social connection and turn to the church for a sense of community. It’s also a lonely time for many.
People love handwritten notes, especially this time of year. It’s a wonderful way to maintain a personal connection with people in the community.
These notes can be from the church staff, or you can have a letter-writing campaign where parishioners write to each other.
5. Host Smaller Community Groups
Parishioners have a broad range of interests outside of the church. Why not create a community and let your parishioners pursue their interests?
These community groups can be about anything. Food, nature, gardening, and social hour are a few community ideas that you can have online.
6. Promote Your Church on Social Media
Do you want to get some church outreach ideas to reach members of the community-at-large? It’s safe to assume that most people are on Facebook.
Running an ad campaign on Facebook to members of the community isn’t expensive. It’s an easy way to promote your church and the upcoming holiday schedule.
7. Ask Your Parishioners for Help
This is a difficult time for churches. You don’t have to navigate these challenges on your own. You can ask your parishioners for help.
Ask them to get involved in any way that they can during these times. It’s also helpful to ask them to invite at least one person to attend or watch holiday services.
8. Be a Community Leader
There is a lot of fear and misinformation going around the community about COVID, the election, and so many other things. It’s hard to know what is true and what isn’t.
You may have some parishioners shun protocols because they don’t believe that COVID is an issue. This is your opportunity to be a leader and remind parishioners of the core messages of Jesus.
Taking precautions isn’t an act of fear, but an act of love. It’s about the overall well-being of the community. You can use these challenging times to remind parishioners who they are as Christians.
Church Outreach Ideas in Challenging Times
It’s impossible to know what this holiday season brings in the light of a global pandemic. Churches serve as the centerpiece for families across the country looking to come together and celebrate this magical time of year.
There are some things that you can do to keep your community safe and have a thriving church. The church is indeed everywhere, not just within community worship for an hour or two a week.
It helps to remind parishioners of that during this holiday season and give them the tools and support they need to be the church. That’s what these church outreach ideas do.
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