Start thinking now about this next big date on the church calendar.
Most of us have taken down our Christmas decorations. I heard a survey that said 14% of people leave them up through Valentine’s. Go for it. But most of us, at least in the church world, are beginning to think about our next big season—Easter.
It’s been said the early bird gets the worm. I’ve never been able to prove that saying, but certainly without a plan you will accomplish less than with one. It’s now time to start planning for Easter.
Here are some thoughts on how to get your church ready for Easter.
1. Strategically consider service times. Decide now when you are having services so you can prepare your staff and volunteers for the added demands of Easter weekend. In my observation, offering more service options is the norm these days. When I lived next door to a Catholic Church I was amazed at the number of services they had. They truly made it “convenient” for their parishioners. I’m not suggesting that. The priests at this church had lots of help delivering messages from deacons and other priests. I am suggesting you consider stretching your current offerings, if appropriate.
2. What if you added one opportunity this year to your Easter services? For example, at my previous church where I last served, we had success with a noon Friday service. We attracted lots of business people during their lunch break. Sometimes we had an accompanying meal and sometimes not. Frankly, either seemed to work.
3. Plan communications. Certainly, there should be an update to your church’s website. Most newcomers will check out your church’s website before they walk through your doors. Post and highlight your Easter service times online as early as possible and use all forms of social media. I always liked for Easter to have its own “branding” for marketing purposes.
You can also energize and equip the church to share your Easter services with their own social media platforms. That’s often more effective than what the church does.
We used to do a “Vision Casting/Launch Celebration” for Easter. Sometime a couple of months before Easter we fed people, gathered all our leaders and cast vision around Easter. This may have been overkill, but I don’t think so. It seemed to get people motivated.
(If you are a smaller church without staff to do this or simply don’t know how, find a volunteer in the church who can help with this.)
4. Recruit and prepare volunteers. Easter is a time you can onboard new volunteers unlike any other time of year. I always wanted more greeters, more parking lot volunteers, etc. on Easter weekend. Equally important is that you provide training for all those who will encounter guests—from the parking lot, to the worship center doors, and to the children’s areas. The impression you make could even have eternal rewards. Strive to make it a good one for every visitor.
5. Plan your services. I personally like for our services to resemble our weekly services as much as possible. This way people know what to expect if they choose to come back. Save the Easter musicals or specials for another weekend. Try to plan songs and service elements with which people may be more likely to be familiar. If it is something that may be different to people—especially those unfamiliar with the church, take a minute to explain what you are about to do. This will make visitors feel less uncomfortable.
I also want to preach a simple sermon. Don’t try to impress people with an Easter message. Tell the story of a risen Christ. It’s timeless and it’s the gospel.
6. Make the church presentable. Between now and Easter is a good time to make sure your church building is ready. Clean up the place. Paint if necessary. Make sure the bathrooms and children’s areas are spotless (and secure). Imagine someone is coming to your house for the first time. What impression would you be trying to make? This is the way to think in preparing for Easter services.
7. Share adequate information. I think it is helpful to give guests additional information about the church. This may be your one chance to share with them some of the things the church does besides Sunday services. You may even print a packet specifically for Easter. Give guests a chance to know a little more about who you are and what happens outside of Easter weekend. This may include missions opportunities (especially local ones), unique programming to meet needs (such as divorce care, etc.), and regular Bible study opportunities.
Also, tell your guests what is next in terms of sermon series, upcoming messages or special programs.
8. Follow up thoroughly and appropriately. This may be the most important step. Depending on the number of visitors you expect, this may require a special team with even more focus than your church’s usual guest follow-up. But have a plan to follow up with Easter guests. I have shared recently that, in my new ministry season ahead, I want to help churches with their Impressions Ministry.
After 18 months of visiting lots of different churches, I realize how poorly many churches do in this critical area—at a time when church visitors are harder to come by than ever before. We have visited large churches, filled out cards and no one contacted us—period. Crazy. If you are blessed with visitors Easter weekend, and they bless you even more with their contact information, appreciate them enough to let them know you recognized their attendance.
Easter is one of the most important times of the year for your church. But you already know that. Let’s give it our all. All our communities need what (and Whom) we share with them at Easter.
This article originally appeared on RonEdmondson.com and is reposted here by permission.