There’s no doubt you’ve spent this month encouraging your church to invite friends and family on Easter. You might have put a few invite cards in their hands. Maybe you bought billboards to make a big splash. Surely they’ve heard you say it from the stage. With all that time and money invested, you can expect some new faces on March 27.
But when unchurched people walk through your door this Easter, will you be ready for them? In my experience, many churches over-estimate their level of readiness to reach unchurched people. Here are six specific ways I’ve seen guests ignored on Easter:
1) Not Having Enough Volunteers at Critical Points
Easter services typically come with large crowds and long lines. Both increase the discomfort of first-time guests who do not know where to go.
Be ready for them with extra volunteers in critical areas. Your parking lot, new family check-in, and auditorium seats are specific areas where you’ll need additional help.
2) Opening Service with an Insider Song
There are a lot of great worship songs about the cross and resurrection. But for the unchurched person, many of the lyrics are confusing, if not outright strange.
Communicating the Gospel in a clear and compelling way is critical. But kicking off the day with phrases that don’t make sense is a quick way to say, “we planned this service for ourselves.”
3) Not Pointing Them to the Right Next Step
Many Easter guests are just trying to fulfill an annual religious duty. They are certainly not looking for a membership class.
Be sure to offer a simple next step that they are willing to take. For most guests, that will be the following week’s service. It could also be an online resource for people with questions about faith. Take time to identify the right next step for unchurched guests. Then let that be your only announcement on Easter.
4) Failing to Answer Their Most Critical Questions
We can no longer assume that everyone attending on Easter is there to celebrate the Resurrection. Many unchurched guests are simply searching for truth.
For someone without faith, the Gospel will sound unbelievable; maybe even downright crazy. You can help them step forward by anticipating and addressing the questions they are asking. Tiffany Deluccia just wrote a great post about the questions Millennials are asking at Easter.
5) Giving a False Impression of the Church
You certainly want to put your best foot forward on Easter. But be careful not to set a false expectation of your church.
If a rock band is not your typical style, don’t try to pull it off for one Sunday. If you know your children’s ministry is struggling, do not tell guests that kids are your top priority. Be your best but maintain your authenticity. Otherwise, you’re setting guests up for another disappointing experience with church.
6) Celebrating the Crowd Rather Instead of Making Connections
Easter attendances certainly make for great social media posts. But they are not the reason any of us got into ministry.
If your desire is to truly help unchurched people connect to the local church, invest your energy and celebrations in that. Encourage your congregation to invite their friends back. Ensure your follow-up and connection processes are painless and personal. Don’t rest on the fact that a crowd came one Sunday. Engage people in a community that could truly change their lives.
I’m excited to see what God does through the local Church this Easter. There’s no doubt in my mind that many people will experience His grace for the first time. Let’s make every effort to be ready for them.
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