In most parts of the United States the last thing on the mind this Christmas Eve will be fishing. Unless one is an ice fisherman then it is unlikely anyone will be fishing this Christmas Eve.
At least no one will be fishing for fish. But churches would be smart to remember that Christmas Eve is a great time to fish for people. In his book Leading Beyond the Walls, Pastor Adam Hamilton of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection describes what he calls the Christmas Eve fishing expedition.
We all know that Christmas Eve will bring persons from the community that do not regularly attend as well as persons who have fallen away from the church to the church. This is a great time to invite the crowds that gather on Christmas Eve back in January. The easiest way to do this is by offering an attractional “felt needs” series for January. Marriage or relationship is a good topic for this series.
After the message on Christmas Eve the pastor might announce that there will be a new series starting in January and invite everyone present to come back in January for the series. At the very least you will want to put a slide up with the message graphic and theme as well as the dates and titles of the messages. If you go the extra mile then create a video introduction to the series to show on Christmas Eve. Additionally, consider making a postcard sized invitation and put one or two in the Christmas Eve worship program. When the series is announced point these out to persons inviting them to put it on the fridge at home to remind them or to think about who they might invite to come back with them.
This message series can then be used in follow up with guests from Christmas Eve. Whether you do that through email or snail mail mentioning the upcoming series and giving an invitation will help make it easy for persons to return.
By doing the above, you will be doing your own fishing on Christmas Eve and you don’t even have to get your hands dirty!
We just got done with my son’s seventh grade science fair project. He studied and reported on “The Effect of Music on Plant Growth.” He found that country music made plants grow best.
In the midst of “helping” him with his project I had to read his introductory page for the project. As I read through it I corrected some spelling errors and some grammatical issues along the way. Though he had read it over there were things he had missed.
The same thing would happen for me when I wrote a paper. I would proofread it. I might even proofread it twice. Inevitably, I would miss something whether it was using “your” when I should have used “you’re” or forgot to add a comma or some other grammatical faux pas. I am pretty sure this happens to everybody. We get so caught up in our own writing that we miss the mistakes when we proofread. This is why it is always best to have the fresh set of eyes of someone else to look at something we have written as they see it differently. They can provide a fresh perspective and catch stuff we have been immune to seeing.
The same is true in our churches. It is easy after one is in their particular local church setting for a while to get blinders. The longer a pastor or a lay person is at a church the more susceptible they are to not seeing what needs to be seen. When this happens then improvements don’t get made or changes do not occur.
This is why a having a consultant to come and spend time in your ministry setting can be a valuable exercise. They come with a fresh set of eyes. They don’t come with any history and should not come with any agenda. They can be an influential outside voice to name some things that the church just has not seen because the people have been to close to it all.
This can be something as simple as having someone come to do a mystery guest audit at worship to hiring someone to come and evaluate all the systems in your local church. One often overlooked way to get a fresh perspective is to ask the newest attendees and members of your church their opinion. Did they feel welcomed? Was there a clear path to get connected? How did you hear about the church? Why did you stay?
Don’t underestimate the value of a fresh set of eyes and the value they can bring to help the church make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.