Christmas Easter People

December 14th, 2013
Image © by Thomas Hawk | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

Chreaster isn't an actual word—it's made up—a portmanteau of Christmas and Easter. According to one of the online slang dictionaries, Chreaster means

A person who attends their place of worship only on major holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Most churches experience the Chreaster phenomenon. Holidays are times when visitors show up at churches in greater numbers. They are perfect opportunities for churches to put their best foot forward and reach beyond the "usual congregation".

Hopefully, your church will see some new faces on these special days. When you do, here are some tips:

1. Don't assume visitors have no church background. Chances are, they were once regular churchgoers. Sometimes people who have never been to church before will visit one out of curiosity, but many visitors will already have some kind of church connection. They may have stopped attending church for a number of reasons, a single reason, or no reason at all. Or they may attend in another town.

2. Explain the essentials, make sure they have a worship guide/bulletin (if your church uses one), then let the visitors ask you questions—that way you avoid doing #1.

3. Act normal. (No, really). We all want to make a good impression but honestly nobody is perfect. It's Murphy's Law that when you meet new people their kids (or yours) will do something embarrassing. Laugh and go on with your conversation—it might actually break the ice.

4. Introduce them to other people in your church. Talk with the visitors first, then introduce them to people with similar interests, life stages, or church members who are from the same area of town. Don't force anything. People will make connections on their own. But the larger your church is, the harder it may be for new people to make those connections.

5. Help them know what to expect. When inviting friends, relatives, or neighbors who are new to church, make sure they know the "dress code." Your church may really be one where people wear what they want. But if you know everyone dresses up for the Christmas Eve service, let the people you invite know what you are wearing.

6. Remember that God isn't finished with them yet. Not everyone grew up in the church. You might be surprised by the number of pastors and staff people who didn't grow up in church either. And sometimes the people with no church background or no previous faith experience are the ones God uses to reach others in the community.

Major holidays are great "entrance ramps" for churches because they provide windows of opportunity for people to visit your congregation with less pressure. So seize the opportunity and make holidays a significant part of your outreach strategy.

This could be the year God reaches the Chreasters in your life.

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