We know that at Christmas time an increasing number of people, who wouldn't normally come to church, attend our church services. But for many, the idea of crossing the threshold of a church is a frightening prospect, despite our best efforts to be as warm and as welcoming as possible.
To help our parishes encourage people to attend church, the Church House Communications Team has put together a resource of social media messages that aims to answer the frequently asked questions of those unfamiliar with attending church.
The images are based on a page on the national church website that aims to remind people why plucking up the courage to cross the threshold of their local church this Christmas might be the best decision they ever make.
Download the resources
Churches in the Diocese of Chester can download each of the images by right-clicking the image and saving it to your computer. Post the image to social media alongside the accompanying text or something similar to suit your local context.
When I come to church how will I know what to do?
When you arrive at a church service or event, most of the time there will be a welcomer on the door. They will be able to let you know what’s happening, for example, where to sit and how to follow the service. Feel free to ask them any questions you have about the service or event and they will be happy to help. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
When I come to church at Christmas, what should I wear?
Feel free to wear whatever you normally wear. Some people wear smart casual when they go to church - but it's totally up to you. For Christmas services and events, some people like to dress a bit smarter, while others like to wear Christmas jumpers! Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
Will I be asked for money?
Attending any church service is completely free. There is no expectation to give money, although churches will welcome any donation you feel moved to make. During the service, or afterwards, there may be an opportunity to donate to the church or to a nominated charity. If you would like to do this, you might also like to know that as well as cash, increasing numbers of churches offer ways to make contactless or online donations. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
What if I have accessibility requirements?
If you have any access requirements do speak to the person who welcomes you at the door, or you can contact the church beforehand to find out more about the local arrangements. Many churches already list whether they have toilets or an accessible toilet, whether they have disabled parking, and whether they have a hearing loop. Just look for ‘facilities’ on the church’s listing. Guide dogs and Assistance dogs should be welcome at any church. Let the welcomers know where you and your dog need to sit in the building. If you want to join in from home, you can search online and livestreamed services. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
What if I don’t know all the words?
During a service, there may be some music and often songs, hymns and words which are a way of worshipping God and praying. Some churches project song words and parts of the service onto a screen, whilst others hand out hymn or song books and paper copies of any words used in the service. The person leading the service may invite you to stand if you are able and say some of the responses at certain parts of the service, or these instructions may be written within the service sheets. Join in with as much or as little as you like and if you’re unsure just follow others’ lead. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
Are children welcome in church?
Yes! Most definitely. Children are welcome at all services and events. The timing of the service and the type of service can make a real difference to how easy it feels to bring small children to church, and many Christmas services are particularly family-friendly, such as a Christingle service, crib service or nativity play, or carol service. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
What happens at a carol service?
We hear carols so often in the shops and on the radio that they’re like a soundtrack for December. It’s really special to hear them in church as part of the telling of the Christmas story. Sometimes the words are prayers for ourselves or for the world we live in, like these from ‘Away in a manger’: “Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay, close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.” As well as including carols, carol services can also include readings from the Bible, prayers and a short talk about the Christmas story. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
What are Lessons and Carols?
A service of ‘Lessons and Carols’ is a particular kind of carol service, like the one that’s broadcast each year from King’s College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve. In this context, ‘lesson’ means a reading from the Bible. The service alternates between Bible readings and carols, gradually explaining who Jesus is and telling the Christmas story in stages. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
What is Midnight Mass?
This late-night service starts late on Christmas Eve and can end after midnight, so you’re among the first to celebrate Christmas! The service normally contains carols and a short talk, as well as the celebration of Holy Communion (the blessing and sharing of bread and wine). ‘Mass’ is another name for ‘Holy Communion’ or the ‘Eucharist’ or ‘the Lord’s Supper’. Find a church service near you: www.achurchnearyou.com #FollowTheStar
What other services and events can I expect?
There are lots of services and events taking place over Christmas and beyond. Sometimes there are Christmas Day services, or space for rest and remembering, there might also be Christmas fetes and events in the run-up to Christmas which can be a great place to meet other people in your neighbourhood. Christmas is a great time to get involved. To find out more about what’s happening at churches near you, visit AChurchNearYou.com/christmas #FollowTheStar