#FollowTheStar on A Church Near You: how to welcome more people into your church this Advent and Christmas


Christmas Carol singers
A Church Near You received 38 million page views this year, and last Christmas millions of people used the site to find #FollowTheStar services and events to attend.

After Christmas, we asked churches how they used the platform, and 23 per cent of those who engaged fully with ACNY – by adding and tagging all their Christmas activities and using the campaign branding on their page - said they saw more people attend their church through Advent and Christmas.  

The site is growing, as we now have more than 16,900 editors on ACNY - an increase of 3,000 on last year's figures - keeping their church’s page up to date and welcoming visitors to the site into their worshipping communities by promoting their services and events. Find out about all the new features we have launching this Christmas, and make sure your church is ready to embrace the opportunity this platform offers. 

Deck your ACNY with #FollowTheStar 

Use the #FollowTheStar branding on your page in the click of a button. Personalise your page this Advent and Christmas to show you’re a part of the national Christmas campaign and give your page a festive feel.  

Find out how to use this campaign tool on the ACNY Editor Help Centre.

Add services and events  

Last Christmas, 79 per cent of visitors told us that they found ACNY helpful, very helpful or extremely helpful to find a service or event. Help them to find your community this year by adding all your Advent and Christmas events and services. From your key services to your mince pies and mulled wine get-together or carol karaoke at the pub, make sure you tell people about all the wonderful ways you’re celebrating this year.  

You must remember to tag your events and services so people can find the right services for them. Find out how to add services and events to ACNY on our Editor Help Centre.  

In 2018, more than 90 per cent of editors added all their events and services to the site in under an hour – we know this is a busy time of year, so we’re continually working to make this process easier for you.  

NEW: Event preview for those browsing at the last minute 

It’s never too late to add your events and services to A Church Near You. The 72-hours before Christmas day is the busiest time on the website. Users often leave it late to find a church to celebrate in, so make sure they can find yours! 

For the first time this year, visitors will be able to preview the next three services a church is hosting before clicking onto your page. It’s key you add all your events and services to ACNY so potential visitors can see all the different ways they could join your local worshipping community.  

Resource hub 

As an editor on A Church Near You, you have exclusive access to the Resource Hub, a stock library of free images, videos and branding that you can use across your platforms.  

Find images to share in your social media posts and the #FollowTheStar logo to add to your posters, pew sheets and magazines this Christmas. We’d love to see how you’re using these free resources! If you’re sharing these on social media, do tag the Church of England and remember to use the hashtag #FollowTheStar.  

Be seen 

By adding your services to ACNY, you will benefit from national advertising on social media and search engines. The call to action on many posts encourages people to join us in one of our local churches and takes users to AChurchNearYou.com. By claiming your ACNY page, you can benefit from this extra traffic to the site, particularly at this key time of the year.  

NEW: Customise our national Christmas advert  

For the first time, you will also be able to personalise our national Christmas videos to include the name of your church. These videos and supporting graphics can be used across your ACNY pages, social media channels and even shown on the screens in your church. Make sure you follow the Church of England on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know when our customisable video feature launches. This will only be available through the ACNY Resource Hub, so become an editor on A Church Near You today to make sure you can access these exclusive resources.  

Don’t forget: 

  • Many churches report visitors citing their welcome message as the reason they felt able to attend their church. Have you included a welcome message to your ACNY page? 

  • More than 80 per cent of people are visiting ACNY for the first time. Many of these visitors might not have visited a church for a long time – or ever – adding lots of information in the description of events and services can help potential visitors plan their visit and know what to expect if they join you this Christmas.  

  • Grab people’s attention by adding images to your events and services on ACNY. If you don’t have your own images, you can browse a selection of FREE images on the Resource Hub

  • Each quarter, more than 10,000 messages from the public are sent to churches through the inbox. Increasingly we’re noticing people messaging churches to ask permission to attend upcoming events and services as people aren’t aware our churches are places for everyone. Make sure you check your inbox for these messages regularly to be sure no one feels as if they aren’t welcome.  

  • NEW: this month we launched our #FollowTheStar stickers for Instagram Stories. Find out how to use these on your social media channels here.  

Amaris Cole
Senior Digital Communications Manager

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