Easter presents the church with its greatest natural opportunity on the calendar to share the gospel. Here is a short list of ways you can help your church have an effective Easter.
1) The Lord wants to bless your Easter services, make sure He can.
God has proven that for those who will exalt His Son, obey the commands, love Him, and love people that He will bless with bountiful growth (John 12:32, Acts 2:42-47). If God can see that a local church is serious about obeying the commands, preaching the gospel and discipling people He will send people their way. Make sure you do nothing in attitude or action that God would say, “I can’t bless that.” Let there be no apathy, selfishness, or self-righteousness. Make sure the sermon is faithful to the Biblical text, the music is Scriptural, and the teaching in every group is doctrinally sound. Make sure that the building is uncluttered and reflects that it is owned and operated by the redeemed people of a Holy God. Be a people God can bless and you will be blessed with people!
2) The invitation begins in the parking lot.
The parable of the sower and the seed shows us that the battle for fruitful response begins early, not late (Matthew 13). Many people who come to your church campus for Easter services have been fighting battles for years. Don’t make them struggle even more to find parking, nurseries, or comfortable places to sit. If they feel uncomfortable at the front door they sure won’t feel comfortable in the altar. Remove every obstacle, fear, and feeling of awkwardness. Make sure they know their kids are safe. Help them understand what is about to happen in the service. Use the bulletin. Use sermon notes. Make a friend, sit with them and explain to them what is about to happen. Communicate clearly from the stage what you want people to do, sit, stand, pray – give them cues don’t leave them guessing. Also remember, if you are not willing to fill out a card, no one else will. If you are not willing to give, no one else will. If you are not willing to sing, no one else will. If you are not willing to listen, no one else will. And most importantly, if you are not willing to respond to the invitation, not one else will. Lead people to the altar, don’t think they will awkwardly walk the plank alone! It is hard to be new. People want to respond, but they are looking for cues from you that what they are doing is OK.
3) Everyone is a greeter.
Melanie Smollen from Faith Perceptions says that guests at your church want to know: Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you know that I am here? Do you care? People expect to be greeted by the pastor and the greeters. People will determine if they are seen, heard, acknowledged and cared for by a church if they experience those things from people who are not expected to do so. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That word was for everyone at your church, not just the greeters!
4) People will come if you ask them.
Thom Rainer shares some startling statistics from his insightful book The Unchurched Next Door. 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited. This means most people are just waiting on you to ask. However, only 2% of church members will actually invite an unchurched person to church. In a given year, 98% of church-goers never extend an invitation.
5) Don’t farm out follow up.
Don’t expect someone else to follow up. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if a person is going to be birthed into the Kingdom that they must go through the church office. Meet someone this Easter at your church. Get their name. Find out how to contact them and you follow up. They expect a letter from your pastor. If you want to leave a lasting impression, let them hear from you; not because it is your business, but because you care.
6) People will be talking about your church when they leave, it’s up to you to determine what they will be talking about.
What do we want them to say about the nursery? What do you want them to say about the music? If you are the pastor who will be delivering the sermon, will you say something so impactful, simple, and memorable that people will be talking about it for several days? What will people be saying about your building? People will talk, positively or negatively. Give them something great to say about their experience at your church this Easter.
7) Tell people what’s next.
Church folks are notorious about complaining about people only coming to church Christmas and Easter. If you want to remedy that, tell them what’s next. Otherwise, in many people’s minds, Christmas is next. What’s your next event? What is the sermon next Sunday? What will the children, students, or small groups be doing next? Are you playing softball this Spring, going to lunch this afternoon? The leaving is just as important as the greeting. If you don’t have anything worth coming to within a week after Easter, you might as well wish your guests a Merry Christmas as they walk out the door.