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9 Easy Ideas For A Memorable Christmas Service

TheCreativePastor.com – 9 Easy Ideas For A Memorable Christmas Service

The Christmas season is such a unique time of the year for ministry. Not only do studies show that more people are likely to fill your pews in this time, but that their hearts are much more conditioned to receive a message. Because of this, it’s common to see churches everywhere working diligently in preparation for the coming crowds at their Christmas service.

As your church prepares for this big day of celebrating the birth of our Savior and sharing the hope found in Him, I’ve come up with nine easy ideas to make your Christmas service memorable. I selected each of these to share with you from personal victories. I’ve seen these ideas work wonders and I know they’ll do the same for you. Check them out and let me know which are your favorites in the comments below!

1. Create An Exciting Christmas Playlist

One of the easiest ways to improve an atmosphere is with the music playing in the background. With a Spotify account in your tool belt, you’re equipped to make an awesome playlist that really sets the tone for your Christmas services. This works great in your lobby, before service, and as people exit. For our church’s “How To Survive The Holidays” series this month, we went with a fun playlist, but I’ve used other lists similar to this in the past.

2. Add Some Holiday Tastes And Smells

Imagine taking a pan of fresh baked Christmas cookies out of the oven and taking that first bite. Or imagine decorating a fresh, live Christmas tree. I’d be willing to bet that tastes and smells immediately came to mind as you read this. Scents and tastes provide such powerful memories for us. Around Christmas time, our church strategically sprays holiday themed air freshener all around our facility 15 minutes before our guests arrive for a noticeable scent. I also love bringing in fresh baked cookies and hot cocoa for the day. Even offering peppermint syrup with your normal coffee is a plus.

3. Create A Holiday Photo Booth

Whether it’s a simple DIY backdrop made of wrapping paper or a custom printed banner, this is a fun way to encourage guests to pause and snap a photo. If you have a willing photographer on your team, you can even capture these photos and share them on your church’s social media pages. Photo booths are an easy win that create lasting memories and they equip guests to share their experience with others.

4. Use A Roll Up Banner To Mark The Occasion

Roll-up banners not only look great in your church’s lobby, they are an awesome way to celebrate special events. I’ve been ordering this affordable banner for our church and have been extremely impressed with the quality. Plus, it seems huge compared to other roll ups that I’ve ordered in the past. Use one of these banners to showcase your sermon artwork for the day or simply a “Merry Christmas from Your Church” message as people enter your facility.

5. Host A Fun Christmas Poll On Social Media

PC-Social_Quotes-Set_4-39On Sunday, I had some fun with our congregation as I welcomed everyone to our service. Using this graphic, I polled our audience on their favorite Christmas movie by asking them to vote by commenting on this same image on our church’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Using their smartphones, they casted their votes and we revealed the results later in our service. People loved it! It was an easy way to bring some interactivity to our service and we boosted this post on Facebook so that all of their friends would see their involvement.

6. Add Some Christmas Songs To Your Setlist

Not only can Christmas songs bring some excitement to your services, but they can bring some well-appreciated familiarity for guests. Every year, popular artists inside and out of the Christian music genre release updated versions of these classic favorites. There is also an extremely large number of these songs available on MultiTracks.com. Simply adding one or two to your setlist may be just the thing you need for a memorable day.

7. Use Christmas Motion Backgrounds

Motion backgrounds are a great way to make your time of singing more engaging. Because there are so many producers these days, there is no shortage of variety. I recommend choosing motions that not only look good, but complement the overall theme of your service. For example, our large Christmas service on the 21st has a warm, rustic theme centered around the nativity. A fast-paced, red motion with snow fall wouldn’t work well with this theme, but a slow, amber bokeh motion would fit right in.

8. Use A Real-Life Nativity Photo For Sermon Art

lightstock-56933-baby-jesus-in-the-manger--3I’ve been truly impressed by the nativity photos at Lightstock and chose to use one of them in my own sermon artwork for Piedmont Chapel. For a lot of people, their view of Christ’s birth is wrapped up in years of tiny, porcelain nativity scenes or glowing plastic decorations in front of peoples’ homes. Using real-life imagery has a way of reminding us that this miracle truly happened.

9. Use An Out of the Box Sermon Illustration

One of the easiest ways to make your Sunday sermons memorable is by using an illustration to make your point. The use of a simple prop, photo, or video can make a massive difference on the retention rate of your audience. Simple, spoken word sermons come and go, but people hold on to messages that use a visual aid for years.

Do you have any other ideas that you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Do’s And Don’ts For Pastors On Facebook

TheCreativePastor.com – 10 Do’s & Don’ts For Pastors On Facebook
While there is an abundance of social media platforms, Facebook continues to be the single best place for churches to connect with the majority of people online. While I’m a big fan of adding Twitter and Instagram to the mix, I keep Facebook as my primary means of social evangelism at our church.

More than simply a place for your church to have a digital presence, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a pastor’s involvement in this online community. It’s one of the easiest ways to speak into your congregation during the week, build a growing trust with your church family by inviting them into your life journey, and connect with new people who may make their way into your church.

So, if you’re a lead pastor, campus pastor, creative pastor, or really any kind of minister who would like to make the most of your time on Facebook, here are ten do’s and don’ts that will help you along the way:

1. DO Friend Members of Your Congregation

People love connecting with their pastor and this is a simple way to let your congregation know that you’re available to them. More than that, that accepted friend request from them lets you know that they trust you enough to invite you into their digital life.

2. DON’T Ride The Emotions of Your Friends

When you’re connected with your church family on Facebook, you’ll see them go through the highs and lows of life. You’ll witness their faithful times and their moments of failure. The key is to love them through all of these seasons and don’t let their posts make or break your day.

3. DO Accept Friend Requests From Nearly Everyone

When you serve as a minister, you’ll see friend requests from people you’ve never personally met. This is a good thing. Whether it’s a friend of someone in your congregation or a family member from the funeral you recently led, these are people who want to get to know you better. (Pro Tip: Check their mutual friend list to get a better idea of who you’re adding.)

4. DON’T Do It Alone

Because you’re connecting with so many people, Facebook can be a tempting place. It’s led to countless cases of infidelity and ruined a lot of marriages. Always be careful to live above reproach and keep things public as often as possible. I’d also recommend inviting someone to keep you accountable in this area. Do everything you can to not let your good be evil spoken of.

5. DO Share Encouraging Posts

Facebook gives the amazing opportunity to minister to your church family outside of Sunday. A simple quote, scripture, or kind post can be just the right thing to keep someone going on a hard day. If you gain a reputation for spreading positivity online, I can guarantee that you’ll see your influence grow.

6. DON’T Give Facebook A Piece of Your Mind

We’ve all seen it. We’ve all rolled our eyes and shook our heads. No one likes when people use Facebook as a personal soap box to rant. Don’t use your digital platform to tackle any issues, get involved in debate, or give anyone a piece of your mind. Keep it uplifting and avoid the drama. Whether big or small, in a Facebook argument, no one wins.

7. DO Share Family Milestones and Memories

This is one of the most important components of your social presence. When you share photos and snippets from your personal life, it connects with people in a greater way than you could ever imagine. It instantly makes you more human and approachable to people inside and outside your congregation.

8. DON’T Share Deep Theological Thoughts

If the goal is to be human and approachable, sharing deep theological thoughts is a quick route in the opposite direction. While it can be tempting to share that “aha moment” from the latest book you’re reading, it’s not worth it. Out of context, it’s likely that most people won’t understand and it just separates you from the community you’ve worked hard to build.

9. DO Be Quick To Offer Praise

Likes and comments are the goal of every post on Facebook and they’re very connected with the self-worth of many users. While you could write a whole sermon on the problem in that, I’d recommend spending your time using it as a method for affirmation. Be quick to comment “Great picture!” on their latest family photo. Like any post that shows them heading in the right direction. Give happy birthday wishes and offer short words of praise often.

10. DON’T Publicly Correct Anyone

When you see one of your friends going through a hard time or not making the wisest choices, feel free to offer kind words of support. However, Facebook is not a place for correction. “Calling out” someone online is guaranteed to burn bridges. No matter how good your intentions, text will always take on the emotion of the reader and add to the problem.

Do you have any other do’s or don’ts that you’d add to the list?

Six Great Mini-Movies For Thanksgiving Sunday

Six Great Mini-Movies For Thanksgiving Sunday

Thanksgiving Sunday is almost here and these mini-movies will work perfect in your services. Because of all the busyness, cooking, and shopping, it’s easy for this holiday to pass right by without us really taking time to thank God for our many blessings. I’ve found that showing mini-movies like these is the perfect way to inspire your congregation to pause and reflect on the subject.

These are my personal favorites from the large collection over at WorshipHouse. Check them out and tell us in the comments below which is your favorite! Or, if you have another that you’d recommend, let us know!


You can purchase “Give Thanks Worship Intro” here.


You can purchase “Thankful People” here.


You can purchase “A Prayer of Thanksgiving” here.


You can purchase “Messy Blessings” here.


You can purchase “The Cure” here.


You can purchase “Give Thanks” here.

12 Gifts For Every Church Creative’s Wishlist

TheCreativePastor.com – 12 Gifts For Every Church Creative's Wishlist

1. Space Bar (Monitor stand + 6-port USB hub) – $99.99

Space Bar: Monitor stand + 6-port USB hub

2. Created For More (By Jonathan Malm) – $9.01

Created For More (By Jonathan Malm)

 3. Decoded (13″ Leather Slim Cover for MacBook Air) – $99.99

Decoded 13" Leather Slim Cover for MacBook Air

4. MOS Spring Cables (Lightning & Micro USB) – $30.00

MOS Spring Cables (Lightning & Micro USB)

5. Sennheiser CX 215 (Earphones) – $39.99

Sennheiser Headphones

6. Olloclip (Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens For iPhone 5) – $99.99

Olloclip (Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens For iPhone 5)

7. Tile (App-based Location Device) – $20.00

Tile

 8. Cordito (Leather Cord Organizer) – $40.00

 Cordito (Leather Cord Organizer)

9. PowerCurl (MacBook Power Cord Wrap) – $9.99

PowerCurl (MacBook power cord wrap)

10. The GaffGun (Genius Gaff Tape Applicator) – $199.99


You can find the GaffGun here.

11. Converge (4-port USB Charging Station) – $69.99

Converge (4-port USB charging station)

12. Mophie Space Pack (iPhone 5S Case, Battery, + Storage) – $149.95

Mophie Space Pack (iPhone 5S Case With Battery + Storage)

What’s on your wish list? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Things To Remember When Service Goes South

TheCreativePastor.com – 5 Things To Remember When Service Goes South

We’ve all been there.

You plan all week for Sunday’s service to be an incredible experience. Your worship team rehearses their songs. Your pastor writes a carefully thought-out message. Your media team prepares lyrics, backgrounds, and sermon slides.

But what happens when, despite all of this preparation, your Sunday service doesn’t go as planned? What do you do when mistakes happen? What do you do when your service goes south?

On Sunday, I faced this head on. While each of our teams had done their homework during the week, something just wasn’t clicking for us. Several production volunteers called out sick last minute. We had a few issues with our sound equipment. The computer running our click track acted buggy throughout the entire worship set. Despite going through two proofreaders, we had a major typo in our sermon slides. (And yes, it was displayed on the screen for all of our audience to see.)

And, in what might be added to the list of most horrifying theater church stories, the audio from the movie previews started playing……mid-sermon.

As you can imagine, at the conclusion of service, I was feeling extremely discouraged.

It was a bad day. Except…I found out that it really wasn’t.

Shortly after service, a first time guest left this message on our church’s Facebook:

I have to say, for the first time in my life I actually heard God speak to me today. I needed that more than anything. Thank you for your wonderful message today!

Only a few moments later, I received word that five people had marked on their connect card that they had made decisions for Christ in that service.

It was then that I was reminded that we play only a small part in peoples’ lives being changed on Sundays. While we seek to create experiences that point people towards God, it’s still ultimately Him who touches hearts.

I walked away from this experience being confident in five things. Not only will I remember them the next time Sunday doesn’t go quite as planned, but I encourage you to do the same.

1. It’s Never As Bad As You Imagine

While you know and understand all of the intricate details of your service, most of your congregation doesn’t. You may walk away with a list of ten mistakes, while your audience only really noticed one or two.

2. It Happens To Everyone

Everyone has bad days. Everyone. I’ve visited some of the largest, fastest growing churches in America and witnessed major fumbles. Mistakes are a part of life. You’re in good company.

3. You’re Better Than You Feel Right Now

When we make mistakes, we tend to start thinking irrationally. We immediately feel embarrassed and our insecurities begin to kick in. It’s important to remember that you’re still awesome at what you do. Just because you have a bad Sunday doesn’t mean you have a bad team. Or church. Or life.

4. Great Things Can Still Happen

Despite our many fumbles, amazing things still happened in that service. People connected with God in a big way. That’s what’s important. What positives can you find in your service that didn’t go exactly as planned? Were lives impacted? Did people hear about Jesus? Was there still life-giving community?

5. Next Sunday Is Coming

When you have a service that goes south, you have two options. You can wallow in your failure and stay where you’re at OR you can pick yourself up and try again. Use each of your mistakes as a tangible way to make improvement. Next Sunday, your audience will be back. Will you make the same mistakes again?