A new website has been created to help people find their local Christmas services - including popular carols, nativity, and midnight mass - helping churches to connect more easily with those who are not regular churchgoers but wish to attend a church service this Christmas.
Users will be able to put in their postcode to find their local Christmas services or if using smartphones, geo-location can be used to show what is happening nearest to them. And it's all free.
The site www.achristmasnearyou.org has been launched and is able to filter services by date, whether there will be carols and access requirements such as wheelchair access, sign language and car parking. It can even find which services are serving mince pies or mulled wine for festive treat lovers.
To get involved, parishes need to upload all their Christmas services to www.achurchnearyou.com/christmas/. A social media campaign has also been launched with the hashtag #JoyToTheWorld to spread the awareness of Christmas services. Churches and visitors are encouraged to post on Twitter and Facebook to get involved. Information and advice on this is available here.
Bishop Andrew said: “One of the encouraging growth areas in church attendance is at Christmastime. A growing number of people are feeling that Christmas isn't Christmas without a visit to church.
To get involved, parishes need to upload all their Christmas services as soon as possible...
“The 'Joy to the world' campaign is a great way for churches to promote their Christmas services so as to encourage more people along. Do make the very most of it, so that this can be the best of Christmases across the diocese!”
Festive church visitors are also encouraged to use #joytotheworld on social media posts and photos to create even greater interest online as Christmas approaches.
The Revd Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Archbishops’ Council, said: “Christmas Day is our showcase as a Church, when we sing hymns that people know, are warm and welcoming and attendances hit an annual high. Using digital apps to publicise these services sits alongside the usual parish work of placing leaflets through people’s doors.”