10 Christmas Eve Service Ideas to Get Return Visitors

The Christmas season is so much more than a time for winter weather, hot cocoa, and jingle bells. It’s one of the greatest seasons of opportunity for the Church. Christmas is one of the days when people of all backgrounds flock to houses of worship, regardless of their church attendance. That’s because Christmas is so deeply embedded in our culture. No matter someone’s experience or background, odds are they’ll attend church on Christmas even if they haven’t attended church all year long. With the opportunity to welcome new faces and change lives, Christmas Eve is a big deal. Not to mention it’s when the Church celebrates the birth of the Savior!

With that in mind, here are 10 ideas to make this your most memorable and impactful Christmas Eve yet!

Christmas Eve Service Ideas for a Memorable Worship

As you prepare to make a memorable Christmas Eve service, it’s easy to get tangled up in Christmas lights, comparison games, and others’ expectations. So here are 10 ideas to make the Christmas season (also known as Christmastide) memorable without sacrificing the peace and joy of the season.

1. Deck the halls of the church

Decorating the church—from wreaths on the front door to poinsettias around the pulpit—will make your Christmas Eve services feel welcoming and cozy and help your congregation get into the Christmas spirit. Dedicate a weekend to decorating your church. Ask for volunteers or get the youth ministry to help hang all the garlands, and offer cocoa and Christmas cookies as a thank-you. You’ll get the church all decked out quickly, and you’ll have helped people in your community build relationships at the same time!

 2. Create a winter wonderland on stage

A decorated stage will make your time singing Christmas songs more engaging and memorable. But it doesn’t have to be hard to set the scene.

Consider getting a bunch of real trees, putting them on your stage, and covering them with lights and fake snow. A stage filled with trees will help bring the classic feeling—and smell—of Christmas to your church.

Or bring winter to your Christmas Eve service by adding frosty windows, fake snow, and large snowflakes on the stage. You can also add fake snow falling down from the ceiling to amplify the winter wonderland feeling.

3. Bring the Christmas story to life

One of the most traditional ways to celebrate Christmas is to reenact the nativity scene. A live nativity scene is a spectacular event that engages both church members and your entire community. Whether it’s a play or you bring live animals to your campus, a live version of the nativity is a beautiful celebration to share what Christmas is about.

4. Light up the night with candlelight services

As the warm glow of candlelight illuminates the sanctuary and a classic Christmas carol plays in the background, a candlelight service creates a memorable moment during your Christmas Eve service. The candlelight service reminds attendees of the true focus of Christmas: the birth of Jesus, the light of the world.

As you plan your candlelight service, you might need alternatives for candles for families and little ones! Kids can use glow sticks, LED candles, or flashlights to join in on the fun.


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5. Use tech to keep people connected

Unfortunately, many churches struggle with getting guests to return, especially after Christmas. You’ve spent so much time researching, planning, and creating an incredible experience at your church, hoping to inspire those guests to keep coming back, but sometimes that isn’t enough. That’s where church tech can help! 

Texting provides a way to personally greet new guests and begin a low-pressure conversation. This strategy can help nudge people into more regular involvement in the church. With Pushpay’s church texting service, you can keep new visitors connected and deepen relationships.

After all the hard work put in for your Christmas Eve service, you can share those Christmas messages to engage your congregation with church visual media. From live streaming to interactive fill-in-the-blank sermon notes, when you share your media in your custom church app, your community will never miss a beat.

6. Focus on families

Christmas is such a special time of the year for families. Parents are looking for opportunities to make memories with their kids. Kids are excited about special Christmas events and festivities. Attending your worship service on Christmas Eve can become part of families’ traditions as long as your service is family-friendly and memorable.

Families have busy schedules on Christmas Eve, so don’t make it hard for them to attend by having a long traditional service or a service in the middle of dinner time. Lifeway Research reports that Christmas Eve services are typically 30 to 45 minutes long, and there are three popular times for the service: “later afternoon (typically for families with young children and for older adults); early evening (the more traditional time); and late evening (for empty nesters and families with teenage or grown children).”

Once families have arrived at your church, create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. For example, you could hand out hot cocoa, candy canes, or goodie bags for kids with crayons and coloring pages to help them engage in the service.

And as people gather around at the beginning and end of the service, they can document this Christmas tradition with pictures! Set up a decorated spot in the lobby for taking pictures, whether you hang a cozy fireplace backdrop or create a forest of Christmas trees in a corner.

7. Sing classic Christmas carols

The timeless Christmas carols like Joy To The World and Silent Night have been sung for generations, and we’re still singing them today at the top of our lungs. This is the time of year when everyone involved enjoys tradition and singing old songs in a new way. A worship planning software can help you breathe new life into old favorites.

Even though most of us haven’t roasted chestnuts on an open fire, the classic song brings to mind our personal Christmas memories. So when you embrace familiar carols during your Christmas Eve service, everyone will join together to sing—believers and non-believers alike!

The Pushpay team did a little digging into our ChMS, and the top 5 Christmas songs churches are adding to the Lyric and Chord Chart Editor are:

  • O Holy Night
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Silent Night
  • The First Noel
  • Joy To The World

8. Give to those in need

We’ve always been taught that it’s better to give than receive, and Christmas often reminds us of how important it is to give back. There are so many ways your church can be the Church and give back during the holidays.

  • Host a toy drive and deliver Christmas gifts to families who are struggling financially
  • Collect winter coats and cold-weather garments like hats, scarves, and mittens to give to local shelters
  • Organize a group of volunteers to cook and serve a meal at a nearby shelter. With colder weather setting in, people need a place to warm up and have a hot meal. 
  • Donate your Christmas Eve service offering to a local organization or a cause close to your church’s heart. Read how Hosanna Church donated their entire Easter offering and ignited a giving explosion.

9. Share the thrill of hope

When it seems like all you hear is bad news, people crave something good. So take inspiration from the classic Christmas carol, O Holy Night: “The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”

For so many people, Christmas isn’t a season of joy. Instead, it’s a season that brings more stress and concern. Sometimes it’s a burden people just want to get through and be done with, or ignore altogether.

As the Church, you have hope and a reason for joy this holiday season! Focus your Christmas message on hope, and give your congregation something to hold onto, regardless of whatever is happening in their lives.

10. Create a clear next step

Sometimes we get so caught up in planning the Christmas Eve service that we forget everything that follows. Everyone gets excited as the big day approaches; you organize all the events, manage volunteers, sing carols, light a candle, and then poof! It’s over. It’s the next Sunday, and things are the same as always. 

Don’t let that happen. Keep the momentum of Christmas going! People who don’t usually attend your church will visit on Christmas Eve, and it’s up to you to help them take the next step. 

Taking the next step after Christmas Eve could be:

  • Inviting them back next week for a new sermon series
  • Talking with someone at the welcome desk to share their contact info and receive a small gift
  • Giving to your Christmas offering

Whatever next step makes sense for your ministry, give your attendees a direct call-to-action to get more involved with your church. Whether it’s through Christmas tithes and offerings, volunteer work, or creating charitable opportunities for the ministry, Christmas time is the best time to nurture your community.

Churchstaq Is Scalable As Your Congregation Grows

As your church grows this Christmas and through the next year, it’s crucial to have the structure and software in place for support. At Pushpay, we’ve created church management software specifically to help churches grow and sustain that new growth without worrying about church finances. Automatically follow up with first-time guests, thank donors, nurture people on their membership journey, and organize volunteers. 

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Merry Christmas from Pushpay

We hope these ideas for your Christmas Eve service will help you make a lasting impact this Christmas, and that this Christmas is full of joy and abundance for you and your ministry!

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