Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Christmas campaign will expand


The Home for Christmas media campaign for all churches will be highlighted by Chris Buskirk during a full day of evangelism workshops Oct. 18, hosted at OKC-Chapel Hill Church.

A total of 16 leaders will present in the "Reaching New People in New Places" event. Keynote speaker will be Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.

Among other topics are "Speaking With Skeptics," "Prayer and Evangelism," and "Navigating the Tightrope of Adolescence."

Rev. Buskirk said, "Across our Conference, 180 churches participated in the 2013 Home For Christmas campaign, with remarkable results. Four out of every five of those reported Christmas Eve attendance increased by 33 percent." He is pastor at Abiding Harvest UMC, Broken Arrow, and serves on the evangelism committee of the Conference’s Discipleship Ministry Team.

Pastor Ben Williams told how Shawnee-Wesley UMC used the campaign and saw the worshippers at that service increase from 90 to more than 300 in 2012.

"We just did some of the things described in the HFC workbook," said Rev. Williams.

"Key for us was a request we made of our members for names of friends and family to which we could send an invitation from the church. We simply mailed about 300 invitations, and that personal connection really worked."

Buskirk said studies confirm that Christmas Eve is the most likely time a non-churchgoer will consider going.

Home for Christmas aims to not only get new people into a local church, but also inform guests of compelling opportunities that will get them to return.

This effort combines a media awareness campaign that individual churches seldom can afford and the customized approach of each local church, Buskirk explained. It is sponsored by the evangelism committee.

For the 2014 holidays, more TV spots and a greater investment in social media are planned. In Oklahoma, social media’s potential reach is 1.1 million people, primarily through Facebook, but also Twitter and Pinterest.

"The Crouch Group will do much of this for us, linking interested guests, as in the past, to www.ChristmasEveWorship.com  to find a local church near them," Buskirk said.

The Crouch Group will also be a resource for customized Facebook campaigns originating from local churches, to be "liked" and "shared" with the friend-to-friend connections that the Shawnee church discovered to be so influential.

To learn from Buskirk how Home For Christmas could "go viral" in your community this holiday season, attend his morning presentation Oct. 18.

To register, contact Bob Pierson, bpierson@leadershipnexus.net. Fee, $25, includes lunch.


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