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, and hopefully some you've never seen as well.
Easter is one of the best times to reach and assimilate new people into your church family. But it doesn't happen just by chance.
Here are seven ideas to help set you and your team up well come Easter Sunday:
1. Be intentional – This is an "all hands on deck" Sunday. Plan every detail you possibly can and expect excellence from your staff and volunteers. It's that important.
Hopefully, you have already started talking about it and casting vision. 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. When I was a pastor, I always used the weeks leading up to Easter to ask people who had never served in our church to commit to helping us out for just that one Sunday.
It built up a lot of our volunteer teams in the long run, as many of them had so much fun serving that they served on a regular basis after Easter.
This is the time to be fully staffed from the parking lot to the baby room. It would help if you had extra greeters. Ask people willing to attend a non-traditional service time to accommodate for growth. Ask members to park further away to clear parking spaces for new guests near the main entrance. For Easter—if no other Sunday—think for your guests.
3. Share hope – Don't overthink it. You don't have to come up with a super creative way to "spin" Easter. It is the simplicity of the hope for their future and forgiveness for their past, offered to them through Jesus, that resonates far more than any glitz you can wrap around it.
That's a message everyone can identify with, so why dilute it?
4. Start a new message series – I have recommended to all my pastor clients since I started The A Group to always use Easter Sunday as an opportunity to invite new guests to come back and be a part of this journey you are going on as a church.
Plan a teaching 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 series with us." Joke with them and tell them you're not asking them to commit to attending 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 tell every volunteer to partner with me in creating irresistible environments for guests.
Long before they would hear a word come out the pastor's mouth, 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 – Create a first-time guest gift. Many churches already do that.
For one, fewer and fewer first-time guests give out their information. 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 don't take that information they give you and 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. Make sure the next Sunday is of equal quality – I remember visiting a church at Easter. It was a great service: the music was excellent, the energy on stage was contagious, and the message was inspiring.
The following week was a total disaster. The pastor, music director, and most of the "talented" people took the week off. It was such a disappointment. It felt like bait and switch.
We're excited to hear all your stories of impact and hope as you work through all of your Easter planning. While there can be a lot of work and busyness that goes into pulling off that Sunday with excellence, try to keep your eyes open to the actual people walking through your doors that weekend. At the end of the day, making them feel known and loved is the biggest win of them all.
Happy Easter planning!
If you need help creating an outreach campaign for Easter, we can help. Contact us here.