Preparing Your Church for the Holiday Season
The holiday season is often the busiest time of year for churches. While it’s a very joyful and celebratory time, it can also be very stressful for the church staff and administration. Between holiday services, get-togethers and events, charity drives, meals for the underprivileged and whatever other good work you undertake over the season, you need to be well prepared for all the extra activity.
Often times congregants don’t see all the behind the scenes activity to get their churches into the holiday spirit. It takes a team of staff and volunteers to make the magic happen. There are a number of things that churches can do before to the holiday season kicks into full-gear to ensure that everyone can enjoy the holidays (somewhat) stress-free!
Holiday Worship: The Busy Season for Churches
While Black Friday may be peak time for retailers, the holidays send an influx of worshippers, volunteers, and even the less fortunate to churches. Pastors and church leaders know that Christmastime attracts more visitors than perhaps any other time of the year, with many churches having extra Christmas Eve services and special programs. In a 2016 poll of 1,000 Americans, LifeWay Research found six out of 10 Americans typically attend church at Christmastime. The Christmas season has become a major outreach focus for many churches and a time to draw in new congregants as well. Many of those who don’t usually go to church during the year are open to an invitation during the holidays, according to previous LifeWay Research studies.
According to the study, the reasons that more people go to church on Christmas include:
- Honor Jesus – 77%
- Observe tradition – 9%
- Be with friends and family – 9%
- Get in the Christmas spirit – 3%
- Not sure – 2%
The Christmas story remains a symbol of hope for many people, even those who don’t regularly go to church. One pastor feels that more people come during Christmas because the story keeps drawing people back and it helps them connect with the core message of the Christian faith.
Elaborate Christmas Productions
Many churches are putting on elaborate stage productions to draw in attendance and share the message of the holidays. These days, people are so focused on experiences. And with all the events and family-friendly experiences being offered at churches to put them in the spirit for Christmas, these types of events are becoming a big draw.
For example, Gateway Church in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, Texas, presented a Broadway-style Christmas production in 2017 called “Chasing Lights.” It was performed with both a live band and professionally recorded audio tracks at Gateway’s 4,000-seat auditorium at the main campus. Over 46,000 saw the show’s 12 live performances and simulcast productions—and more than 10,000 streamed it.
Other churches don’t have space or budget to take on such a large spectacle and rely on the congregants and their children to put on Christmas pageants, Nativity scenes or other musical displays to celebrate the season. But no matter the size of the show, the outcome remains the same – to share the spirit of the holiday and celebrate the season.
And with these productions come a large number of assets to track that are often at an added cost to churches. Tracking these assets that need to be used year after year is key to keeping costs down and putting on a great and, of course, entertaining show. Many software programs offer multiple database fields which can be customized for specific uses, such as holiday programs. This new way of tracking assets via the cloud keeps church staff, show producers, and even performers accountable for the quick and safe return of valuable assets. The production staff is not trying to track down equipment or props each year and guess what is usable or what needs to be replaced — everything is recorded in real-time, and they know who has what, where the assets are and what they are used for in the show.
Taking Inventory of Furniture
One task that might not be top of mind as churches get ready for the holiday season is tracking your inventory of furniture. With furniture being used around the church by different groups, in different areas, for different events, it’s easy for things to get lost. As this happens throughout the year, you may not realize just how much has gone missing, has been misplaced, or needs to be repaired/replaced until it’s too late. Having an accurate knowledge of what furniture you have, where it is located and ensuring it’s in good, usable condition is important no matter what time of year.
Establishing a furniture inventory system is actually quite easy to accomplish and can save both time and money. Today’s asset tracking software platforms give organizations complete control in an easy-to-use format when it comes to tracking and managing their assets – and that includes furniture. Thanks to built-in barcode scanners and free mobile apps that can be used from employees’ own smartphones and tablets, a furniture inventory system can store all the important details about each asset in one central location that can be accessed anytime, from anywhere. Details such as the date of acquisition of each piece of furniture, where it was purchased from, cost, warranties/contracts, care instructions, repair information etc. can be recorded and available to users 24/7. Guesswork becomes a thing of the past … allowing staff to concentrate on more pressing issues of the day.
Managing Holiday Lending and Rentals
You have to make sure, among all the community groups and events that wish to use your facilities, that you have enough resources to go around as well as serve all of your own events and plans. Church staff should be staying on top of their inventory to be sure it’s all back at its home base before the holidays start. Then they can take note of if they need to get items repaired or replaced, or if they need to rent additional chairs, tables, desks, etc. for extra attendees at the holidays. Tracking furniture should be a year-round activity and not just at the holidays.
Preparing to Receive and Distribute Donations
The holidays are synonymous with giving and donations. One report stated that about 34% of all charitable giving is done in the last three months of the year. Of those donations, about 18% are given in December alone. Many churches run some sort of charitable activity during the holidays. According to Giving USA, giving at year’s end represents an increasing portion of total giving in many churches — most receive 25% percent to 33% of their yearly contributions between Thanksgiving and year’s end. Whether it’s collecting toys for underprivileged children, food for the local food pantry or coats and blankets for the homeless, it’s important to ensure you have an efficient way of receiving, cataloging, and preparing all donations for distribution.
Because the holidays tend to bring out a greater generosity from people, churches typically have a large influx of inventory to deal with and a quick timeline to sort and distribute. Thankfully technology is available to help make this a quick, efficient and transparent process. Software targeted towards asset tracking can provide up-to-date and timely reports on donations coming in and how they are distributed. It’s also helpful to review the data each year to see where the most need may be and if donation requests should be more focused on a certain group or item(s).
Check Up On Maintenance Inside and Outside the Church
No matter the time of year, there’s a lot that needs to be maintained in a church -- from musical instruments to computer equipment, to the building itself. The last thing any church wants during the holidays is for something important to break down.
There seems to be a more of an urgent push to get all maintenance issues inline before the holiday season, but having to perform major work right before the holidays can actually be quite a hassle. While some issues cannot be predicted, churches who stay on top of maintenance requirements throughout the year and perform them as necessary typically have less to deal with.
By knowing what assets you have and their condition is vital for cost-savings measures and less occurrence for issues at the most undesirable time, such as Christmas. With more and more items being used in church environments, it’s imperative that they are kept in good working condition. Keeping up with maintenance schedules of when items were added into inventory when they were last upgraded (if applicable), as well as a complete maintenance/repair history is important to ensure that equipment is usable at all times and doesn’t break down at the worst possible moment.
Highly configurable, Asset Panda is the perfect asset tracking solution for churches year-round. Asset Panda quickly integrates with existing systems, changing as your needs change for unlimited ways to organize and access vital information throughout an asset’s entire lifecycle. Completely customizable, Asset Panda is not just incredibly powerful; it’s also very simple to use. Using devices your team is already carrying, our free Mobile App makes it simple to scan assets for on-demand access or necessary information. Add pictures or documents, full access histories, generate reports, track maintenance schedules, audit, and get a full check in/check out the status on every asset entered into the system.
Churches want to focus on the holidays and celebrate the season with joy – not frustration or added stress from lack of oversight and planning. By starting early and staying on top of tasks throughout the year, churches who are prepared for the holidays (and their staff) will definitely be more merry and bright! Let Asset Panda be your guiding star and get you started on the path to a happy holiday season with a free 14-day trial. Visit www.assetpanda.com to learn more.