It was encouraging to hear so many friends report ‘standing room only’ for their Easter services. It seems many people still want to remember Easter as being about more than chocolate and bunnies. And many churches are thinking evangelistically about how to make the most of this particular annual opportunity. Here’s some of my own reflections on how we could do it better next time:
- Make a weekend of it. We had a men’s prayer evening on Maundy Thursday followed by a curry. On Friday we joined the town centre service with other Bedford churches. And on Sunday we had our own Easter service. I think there’s more we could yet do but I think it’s right that churches think in terms of the whole weekend (Thurs-Sun) rather than just Easter day
- Publicize well. Get some proper design and publicity done and spread it through local papers, word of mouth, flyers, posters, social media etc. Many people still want to go to a good Easter service (as they do Christmas), they’re just not sure where to go. Make yours stand out.
- Look out, not just in. Many Christians use Easter as a time of personal meditation and reflection, which is good. But in so doing we forget that there is a good opportunity to involve and invite friends, family, neighbours, colleagues etc. The news of the risen Christ is to be shared – think about how you can use Easter evangelistically as well as personally.
- Put time and effort into your Easter services. Most do this well but I think we’ve all been to some where the pastor has been having the week off (because his kids are off) and he figures its only really for his own folk (many of whom will go and see family) so the whole thing is shabby and badly done. Spend some real time thinking about how you welcome people, how you start and close the service, how to make the most of media and music, who else to involve, and how you can prepare a stonking message.
- Use follow up cards. The jury is still out a bit for me on these. I’m not sure the response is ever quite what we’d hope for but we’re persevering and learning as we go. Having an opportunity for someone to respond, ask for more info, enquire about a course, has got to be worth a go.
- Exercise good hospitality. Put people in your car park (if necessary), have good welcomers, go out of your way to welcome visitors from the front, get some doughnuts in for after the service, and give people real coffee (for the love of humanity!). Hospitality matters. Don’t scrimp on it.
- Diarize well. As a church try to have events and courses that lead into and out of your major seasons and services. It’s no good having an Explore course two months after your Easter service. Think about it. Make sure the Explore course starts a couple of weeks after your Easter service so that people can sign up there and then.
- Invite some people for lunch. On a more personal level why don’t you invite people to come to church on Easter Sunday with you and then to come back for lunch. Makes a bit more a day of it and helps to prevent your friends feeling like you’re only interested in press ganging them into church.
- Give a gift to visitors. Doesn’t have to be anything flash. We used a £1 book we got from 10ofthose. For each and every visitor we gave a gift to thank them for coming. All of our gifts were taken and hopefully people may read and return.
- Be there! Save the most controversial for last, but plan to be there. Bizarrely, as many people want to come to church on Easter, many Christians want to go away. They see family, take a long weekend away, or go (maybe worst of all!) to a Christian conference! You can do those things at other times of the year. Get into the field at harvest time. Now of course we’re under grace and people are at liberty to go away whenever they like but it seems to me Christians miss a trick by being away from the local church (and their local friends) at such an evangelistically strategic time of the year.
Any other top tips or thoughts?