Advent is here and we want to tell everyone about what’s At the Heart of Christmas. Here are our top tips to make sure everyone has an invitation this year.
Take a look at your A Church Near You pages and make sure you use the tagging system to help people find what’s happening in your local church and whether they are able to access it easily.
People want to know what to expect when they come to church, so explaining what will happen in advance, and making any facilities clear can be incredibly helpful. The Revd Canon Dr Tom Clammer, who regularly leads worship in Tidenham, is a wheelchair user. In 2019 he wrote of his experience on the topic of welcome and local churches in these terms:
“What makes the difference is where the information about access is available. Is information about access available on your website? Or on the church noticeboard? What I really need to know is whether I can get into the building… It is so easy for your church to be welcoming. Thank you for taking the time to do so.” [Read Tom’s full article here.]
Have a quick check to make sure that your building is welcoming to those using hearing aids, wheelchairs, attending with babies, toddlers, service dogs etc and that your church is dementia-friendly. Then share how you can welcome people, on your website, A Church Near You and on your noticeboards.
Using professional quality resources is a mark of respect for your message and for your audience, so it’s great news that the Church of England digital team has created an easily customisable package of resources to help you share the message this Christmas. Create your posters on Canva, share a post on social media, in your local parent Facebook groups, or community Facebook pages…however you do it, make sure everyone has an invitation to come to church services and events this Christmas and Advent.
As well as graphics, A Church Near You has songs that you can download for free to add into your Christmas online worship, helping those who have been shielding or prefer not to go into our church buildings at present, to really feel part of the celebration.
The personal touch is really valuable too. See if friends or neighbours want to join you for some carol singing, find peace in the candlelight at midnight mass (which often doesn’t start at midnight!) or dress up for the Crib service. Even if people don’t usually come to church, the nostalgia and the sense of tradition it provides can be comforting and reassuring to many. Try writing a post or recording a video sharing what is At the Heart of Christmas for you personally.
At the heart of Christmas will consist of 12 stories and meditations from Archbishops Justin Welby, Stephen Cottrell, our very own Bishop Rachel, and guests, who will share personal stories exploring themes close to the heart of Christmas. Starting on Christmas Eve and continuing daily (Monday to Saturday) until the Epiphany (6 January), At the heart of Christmas: 12 Days of stories and meditations for Christmas will help you make space for that exploration. On each of the twelve days, a different contributor will share something that lies close to the heart of Christmas for them, bringing the theme to life through a mixture of personal story, Bible reading, reflection and questions to ponder.
There’s a sample reflection showing at the moment, with a reflection from the Archbishop of York, The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell. Those with hearing or visual impairment will be glad to know that the words are provided in written and audio format, you can buy them as a booklet or download the At the Heart of Christmas App.
Starting daily on 1 December there will be a family activities Advent calendar, which you can access through the app, opt into a daily email or find on the Church of England’s At the Heart of Christmas webpages (visit www.churchofengland.org/AdventCalendar).
Watch the ‘At the Heart of Christmas’ launch video with the Revd Canon Dr Sandra Millar, which shares all the resources available, for young adults, people at home without internet, people in our churches and those who haven’t yet taken that step. Full video below.