Easter is one of the most significant days in the lives of Christians. Churches all across the world gather to honor the sacrifice of Jesus. While it's deeply personal to every person of faith, there is also this huge, and I do mean HUGE, influx of new people who show up to a worship service that day, maybe for the first time.
Maybe they don't have much of a faith journey, it's just part of their family's tradition to attend church on Easter.
Maybe they have held tightly to their beliefs but have walked away from the church.
Maybe they feel totally and completely lost and church, on Easter, just felt like the right place to start.
I think it presents churches with a very important and difficult line to tow on this most special of days: Create an impactful worship experience for everyone while working to connect with those new faces.
Some might argue that this is no different from any other Sunday. Churches are always aiming to spiritually nourish and engage their ongoing members while also focusing on creating a space where new people feel welcome and wanted.
Easter is different, though. Totally and completely. You will never see on a regular Sunday the increase in attendance you see on Easter. I don't care how well you spread the word about your upcoming sermon series or how legit your worship band is. This holiday draws people in and it is critical for everyone who walks through your door, that you're ready.
I don't mean ready like “have you prepped your sermon and rehearsed it a thousand times?”. I'm not asking about how often the worship team has practiced or if you have enough extra seating available.
This is all important, but I'm referring to being ready from a systematic perspective. Are you prepared for the biggest attendance jump your church will see all year? Do you have a plan in place for all of those new people? Do your members feel prepared to bring their friends and family?
I know it sounds like a lot, but I think being ready for Easter comes down to two main preparation points...
1. Prepare Your Members
2. Be Prepared for Your Guests
Let's dive into exactly what these two preparation points are aiming to do and how to effectively execute them.
Prepare Your Members
A lot of churches we work with have been sharing how they are preparing their members for Easter and we've been blown away. First of all, it's such a cool picture of being the “body” and working together. Giving members tangible things they can do in preparation for Easter is a great way to keep them engaged, as well.
More often than not, people want to be helpful, they want to serve and be a valuable part of their community. They just don't always know how. What better way to build some engagement within your members and regular attendees than by asking them to join you in your efforts to make Easter as impactful as possible for first time guests.
So, how can you prepare your members, and what can they do?
Prayer gatherings: Set up time weekly, daily, whatever it is, where you can gather as a church and pray. Pray over your services, for the new faces that will come, for the people who haven't come in months, for those who will volunteer, etc.
Invite cards: Create a printed, invite card (get free templates and graphics in this Ultimate Easter Kit)
Outreach Events: Easter is a great time to make church feel more accessible to the community. Consider hosting a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt or a potluck after service that's open to your whole community, or at least to everyone at your service. You could do a pancake breakfast in place of Sunday school before service. It doesn't have to be anything expensive or extravagant, but they are easy ways for members to invite people in their life. These are also not events you have to feel pressure to do every week or even every month!
You are looking at one of the biggest church attendance days of the year; it's okay to go all out. Simple example: one of your members has a neighbor who doesn't go to church. They see each other Saturday night while they're both our working in their yards. They ask each other what they're doing tomorrow, just small talk. The member of your church so easily can say, “well, we're going to take our kids to a pancake breakfast at our church; y'all should come!” Like it or not, that's an easier invite than “We are going to church to celebrate the resurrection of Christ; would you like to join us?” I'm just sayin'...
Language/Scripts for email, text, social and even phone calls: Here are some templates you can give to your members in the weeks leading up to Easter that they can use in text messages, emails, on their social media, or even on a phone call to invite people to church (edit to fit your church)…
“Hey! Not sure if you're traveling to see family over Easter, but if not, we'd love to celebrate with you! Our church has services at 9am & 11am and a potluck lunch after; we'd love if you could join us :)”
“Looking for an awesome Easter Egg Hunt to take your kids to? Come to City Church Sunday, April 21st at 2:00pm; free egg hunt, face painting, and refreshments!”
Extra help on Easter: One really direct way members can be helpful on Easter is to volunteer to serve. Maybe they already serve and you need to pick up an extra shift, or take on something entirely different, but all hands need to be on deck on Easter. Give everybody a job. Even if people have to be “voluntold”, there is a sense of pride taken when you're helping, so it will build unity among your members to be serving and focusing on guests on such a big day.
Serving your members through worship, teaching, and spiritual formation will happen, but they also have a responsibility to join you in the great commission of The Church. Don't be afraid to ask much of them this Easter season!
Be Prepared for Your Guests
When you are thinking of how to be prepared for your guests on Easter we want you to think of it on a very logistical level. How are you going to aim to connect with all of them? Who will they interact with? Where will they go when they first walk in the door? How will they know about your services ahead of time?
A lot of this preparation we cover in a recent post where we talk about obsessing over first time guests. It's this concept of guests feeling wanted and thought of before they even meet anyone. If there were to be a perfect day to be obsessed with your church's first time guests, I'd argue that Easter is it. What a way to model the message of Easter: having a church that is completely focused on extending its reach past its four walls.
So, consider the messaging on your website, your Facebook page, your signs, etc. and what it communicates to the unchurched in your community. In addition to all of this prep ahead of time, we want to focus primarily on what to do with all of these people after they attend your amazing Easter service!
Let's consider the three individuals we discussed at the beginning of the article…
The one who's here for their family.
The one who's here because they love God and have rejected the church (who knows for how long).
The one who's here out of total and complete desperation.
I know there are more. But, for the sake of strategy, let's focus on these three. Do you think friendly faces and yummy pancakes are enough? Will their lifestyle of not being in church be broken by one positive hour? They may have a spiritual impact and a change of heart, I'm not minimizing that at all. But we are still talking about people with habits, jobs, hobbies, relationships, and the list goes on.
How can we make a lasting impact on these people?
One that says “you belong here”
“You're welcome here”
“You're wanted here”
They are going to feel that over time, as they build genuine relationships with people. And how do we do that in a day and age that is pulling at people's attention from every angle? By building a follow-up system that engages people for an extended amount of time and creates an opportunity to connect with them.
Did I lose you?
We can't expect new people to come to church and do all the work. They showed up! They took that vulnerable, awkward, “not what they're used to doing on a Sunday morning” first step and now the ball is in our court!
So make sure your greeters are ready to go and that you have members hanging out before and after service to meet new faces. But then you, as a church leader, also need to have a system in place to follow-up with all of those people in the days and weeks following Easter service.
You know they will be impacted. The Easter message leaves an impression. So how will you nurture that? How will you continue to shepherd those new people once they leave the walls of your church?
Reach out to them. Text them. Email them. Send them a letter. Send them a gift. And then text them again. And email them again. Send them another note saying you hope they will come back to church. Then maybe text them again and email them again… I think you get my point.
People are worth it, and they need to be reminded that they are wanted. Church doesn't always feel as open and welcoming as we hope it does to the outside world, so let's change that one epic follow-up system at a time, starting with this Easter.
To wrap up, we all know how important Easter is for Christians. And we also understand that Easter has a huge pull for Christians and non-Christians alike who haven't been in church. So, as you prepare for Easter from a service planning and worship perspective, make sure you also take some time to prepare systematically for one of your best attended services of the year. Two major ways to do that:
1. Prepare Your Members: equip them to invite, empower them to serve, and pray with them.
2. Be Prepared For Your Guests: have follow-up messages ready, have connection cards available, have check-in points to catch as many guests as you can. And, create a system so no one falls through the cracks.
P.S. If you're looking for a system that can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, I know the best in the biz :) Thousands of churches use Text in Church every week to save time, reach more people, and increase their impact. Start your free trial to see just how easy it is.
P.P.S. Get all the messaging you need for Easter with these incredible copy & paste templates!!!