Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bringing Joy To The World

A communications strategy to reach more people at Christmas—and beyond

By Lee Dean

Throughout the past 18 years, the Madison Park Church of God's annual production of "A Christmas Carol" has become a tradition in Anderson, Indiana. The musical anchors a set of holiday activities that continues to grow and introduce more people to the church and to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"This has been one of the most successful front door opportunities for us," says Kevin Majeski, Madison Park's director of communications. "Many folks, even years later, will say to us, 'The first time I came to the church was at the Christmas Carol event.'"

Many of the people who walk through that front door are unfamiliar, perhaps even ambivalent, about the real story of Jesus. Yet they still are attracted to the traditional sights and sounds of the season.

That's why the fast-approaching holiday season represents one of the single-best outreach opportunities for churches to communicate the Good News.

"The general non-church public is probably most open to attending church at Christmas because of the general cultural romance about the holiday," says Evan McBroom, creative director of Fishhook, an Indianapolis-based church communications consulting firm. "There is a general understanding of the nativity story and the Christmas story. There's a kind of nostalgic romance for it, even if you're not churched."

The challenge is to craft messages in a variety of ways that promote these events and activities—and make certain they're heard and seen by those inside and outside of your church walls.

Persuading people to experience your church, whether to participate in special holiday programming or to join community service projects, requires a strategic plan that involves communication to the congregation and the community, well in advance of the event. And it requires a harmonious use of both new technologies and traditional mass marketing techniques.

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Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!

Pat