Easter. There’s a lot of pressure surrounding this day for pastors, isn’t there? You’ll most likely see people you haven’t seen in a while. Hopefully, some you’ve never seen as well. So you need to be prepared, right?
I personally believe that Easter is the best time to reach and assimilate new people into your church family. But it doesn’t happen just by chance. You have to prepare.
Here are seven tips to help set you and your team up well:
1. Be intentional – This is an “all hands on deck” Sunday. Plan every detail you possibly can and expect excellence. It’s that important. Hopefully by now you have already started talking about it, but people need to know the importance you are placing on the day. Make it a big deal, because it is a big deal.
2. Ask members to sacrifice – For this one Sunday, ask your most committed people to serve in ways they may not otherwise. I always used the weeks leading up to Easter to ask people, who had never served in our church, to commit to just help us out for that one Sunday.
In the long run, it built up a lot of our volunteer teams as many of them had so much fun serving that they served on a regular basis after Easter. You need to be fully staffed from the parking lot to the baby room. You need extra greeters. You need people willing to attend a non-traditional service time to accommodate for growth. For Easter—if no other Sunday—think for your guests.
3. Share hope – Don’t overthink it. For years I used to beat myself up thinking I had to have a new twist on the resurrection or make each year’s service better than last. Listen, just tell them about the hope that comes along with Easter. Because of Easter there is forgiveness for their past and there is hope for their future. That’s a message everyone can identify with.
4. Start a new message series – I would always use Easter Sunday as an opportunity to invite new guests to come back and be a part of this journey we’re going on as a church. Plan a three-week series that starts on Easter Sunday. Then make an intentional invite. Say something like, “We hope that today has been helpful and if this message or the music or something else you’ve experienced today ignited something inside of you, why don’t you make a commitment right now that you’ll come back and finish this three week series with us.” Joke with them and tell them you’re not asking them to commit to attend until Jesus returns but to just try it for a few weeks.
5. Make people feel welcome – Please, please, please don’t use this as an opportunity to beat up on people for only attending once a year. That is never helpful and it doesn’t work. Give them hope that will help them want to return more often. And that’s not just a “sermon” thing. Feeling welcome should start in the parking lot. I used to say all the time that I needed every volunteer to partner with me in creating irresistible environments for guests. Long before they would hear a word come out of my mouth as the pastor, they had more than likely already decided whether or not this was the kind of place where they felt welcome.
6. Plan a follow up – Something we started doing a couple years ago was offering our first-time guests a gift. We did this for a couple reasons. First, we had discovered that over the years, fewer and fewer first-time guests would actually give us their information. They were leery and who could blame them. So we set up a table and offered them a gift (maybe a coffee mug or a water bottle) that they could pick up when they dropped their information card off at the “welcome” table. Now, whatever you do don’t take that information they give you and just sit on it. Reach out to them and communicate about all the different things your church is doing in the community and talk to them about how they could become a part of it.
7. Take a day off – (Stop laughing. I’m serious.) This is a stressful time, and if you aren’t relaxed and rested, you’ll find you spent all your best energy on preparation and have no strength left for the real thing.
We want to help equip you and your team further as you enter into this much anticipated season, so we have put together a FREE Easter Prep Worksheet to help you in this process. It dives into the nitty-gritty details of everything guest services and what to do with higher volume of attendees to volunteer needs and training. Check it out- it’s worth it.