A recap from our July event.

We gathered with church communications leaders to talk about planning for Christmas. It was a great time full of advice, stories, laughter and Christmas cookies. During the event, we split into four breakout sessions to cover leadership, planning, partnering with ministries and community engagement during the holidays. We also chatted more specifically about social media over Facebook Live.

In order to move from surviving Christmas to thriving, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What do you know?
  2. What do you need to know?
  3. Who needs to cast the vision/make the call?

Focusing on these questions will help you start the planning process and be strategic, so Christmas can get back to being about the baby in the manger, peace, hope, joy and love. 

Here are some soundbites from each breakout session:


  • The tricky thing is that Christmas is on a Sunday this year! Some churches are having one service for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while others will have a fun Christmas Day service online instead. Some are not having service on Sunday at all while others have decided not to have New Year's Eve and New Year's Day services.
  • Let your "no" be "no." If someone comes to you and says, "Oh, can you do this?" and you say "maybe!" they will always know you will accommodate them. So let your "no" be "no." 
  • You might think something is a tradition (and it might be), but a lot of people won't even notice when it's gone. Keep it simple. Sometimes it's as easy as replacing it with something else. You have to say no to good things sometimes in order to say yes to great things.
  • Remember that everyone has lives, even leadership, so don't make Christmas too complicated. 
  • Have a budget ready early! Leadership will respect that, and then it gives you a good way to say no to people when they ask you for things last minute. Use Facebook advertising if you are just starting out. It's inexpensive, and you can really measure the success and narrow down who you're promoting to and why. 


  • As you move through planning processes, make sure you use a good project management software. We like Teamwork, Basecamp and Trello. That way, when you meet with a ministry leader, you can dump all those details into the software to stay organized.
  • Leadership often makes decisions in isolation, so if you sit at the leadership table, ask, "Who else needs to know about this decision?"
  • Help people understand "the why" behind what you're sharing. Using stories is great, but a lot of times, it's hard to know how to plan, harvest and organize those. Find a story spotter who can listen for those stories and pull them out. Then have a place for staff or ministry leaders to get those out of their brains. Send an email or put a form on your website for stories.
  • Year-end fundraising can get out of control during the holiday season! Talk to your leaders during the planning process, so they know how many things you're truly asking from people during the holidays. Start a master calendar! Record any "asks" there as well. 


  • Make sure everyone knows what goes into the communications roles. A lot of ministries see the process and think it works like magic ... and it doesn't. Make sure they know what goes into it, so you can manage expectations. 


  • To create strong connections with newcomers, you need to know who they are. Have a plan to connect with newcomers who visit during the holidays. Add in a place where they can meet up with others, so they feel included. 
  • What do people need? Peace. Find a way to offer peace and hope during the holidays, and that includes the community and your staff. 
  • Pull in young people and families. Start a social media campaign with fun videos or posts to really connect and show the heart behind your church.

So what's next? Make it specific!

  1. What's one thing you could do
  2. What's one conversation you could have in the next month? 
  3. What's one thing you want to continue to think about and process? 

Looking for more help with planning? Download our Holiday Survival Guide! It includes a planning worksheet, tips and tricks for working with leaders, fun ideas and more.