Each Sunday churches have vistors. These visitors all come from different locations, economic and social backgrounds. However a common factor in all of these visits is that people will take away a first impression of the church and its people. These impression and visits all explode on Easter Sunday when people, for a varity of reasons, attend churches around the country. Today as I attended an Easter services and was struck by five factors that I think churches should consider not only Easter Sunday but every Sunday of the year. When reading these suggestions understand that I am not being critical as much as I am making observations. Each church has its own personality, people and feel. So the suggestions below should not be considered cookie cutter ideas as much as they should be suggestions that are incorporated into the flows of the church.
1. Be Prepared
There WILL be more people that show up for Easter. This fact should drive you and your church to ask some questions. Do you have enough seats, greeters and parking? If not how can you change things so that you can accommodate this surge of people? These may seem like easy fixes but unless time and thought are put into these issues you will find people looking forever for a seat, not feeling welcomed or creating parking problems. The negative effects for not addressing these issues all lead to people focusing on issues that may aggravate them instead helping them focus on what God is doing in the church.
2. Organization & Explanation
These new people, and maybe even your regular attendees, don’t know what is going on at all times. So no matter what you do explain it as if you were speaking to a completely new person. This will help both the visitors as well as your established people. The smoother the service runs the more people can focus on Jesus and less on confusion. Keep in mind that many people that attend on Easter Sunday, as well as throughout the year, may not have an understanding of scripture or the liturgical practices of the church. If we direct people to worship for example but don’t explain the ‘why’ we run the risk of causing both confusion and embaresment for our visitors. As stated in point one we should make sure that all distractions are keep to a minimum so that all the attention can be on Jesus.
3. Be Celebratory, Not Sober
Every Sunday should be a celebration. However Easter Sunday should be a celebration on steroids. If songs are sung or speeches given that put people to sleep rather than drive them to celebration there is a problem. We are not trying to create emotionalism , but we do want to emotionally feel the joy of the day. Every parting the service should undergird this main point.
4. Find And Follow Up
With this surge of extra people it is important not to view this as a one time only event. People will only come on Sunday morning of they think that’s the only time the church expects them. Does your church have methods in place to follow up with those that only show up on Easter? Are they clear and known by both the leadership and lay people within the church?
5. Preach Clearly
The idea on Easter Sunday, or any other Sunday for that matter, is not to tell new truths as much as it is to re-tell old Biblical truths. When a preacher preaches from the Bible it will be neither new or unique information. However He is to preach! This looks different for different churches, but the underlying idea is that it always includes our sin, Jesus sacrifice, His defeat of sin and death and the implications of that. If these are left out we run the risk of people assuming that they can be good enough or try hard enough and earn favor with God. In addition to this preachers should not assume that people know what the terms “Jesus’ blood” or “become saved” means. Explain these terms so that there is little confusion and much much glory given to God.
No one church is going to have the perfect service where everything always goes right. However we can, as leaders, do something to make things go smoother.