Easter is a celebration commemorating the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that resurrection is the very belief on which Christianity is founded. It's how Christians know that a first-century preacher was not just a preacher but actually the Son of God: He rose from the dead.
We celebrate Jesus’ triumph over death as our own triumph over death, too. His resurrection affords us all resurrection and eternal life with God. Simply put, Easter reminds us as Christians that life triumphs over death.
And so it comes as no surprise to pastors and church leaders that Easter is a big – HUGE – attendance day, rivaled only by Christmas. And those attendance numbers provide us with incredible opportunities (read: people) that may not otherwise present themselves (read: attend) to personally engage new or bi-annual guests.
"Ultimately, monitoring reinforces the message that people are valued and that they matter – because they do!"
And your Easter service is your first impression. It’s your opportunity to welcome newcomers or returning guests so that you can convert drop-ins into disciples.
So we’ve compiled a quick, easy dos-and-don’ts reference list to help you plan for one of your biggest days of the year so you can be sure to make the greatest impact on all the people God brings through your doors Easter Sunday … and beyond.
Do recognize that excellence in an Easter service makes a difference.
When people come to our church, we have about one hour – maybe even just five minutes – for them to make an opinion on what they think about God and what they think about the church. So excellence matters; we need to do our very best to maximize their experience and exceed their expectations.
Don’t plan for ‘insiders.’
Easter actually is a celebration for believers. But there can be a lot missed about the Gospel message if we aren’t thoughtful about the non-believers in the room. If we talk about ‘the blood of the lamb’ and the crucifixion – those things are all phrases for those of us who know Jesus and know what they mean – but are completely foreign to a new person.
Don’t make your Easter service so different from your regular services.
The problem with that is that if the new person loved it, they aren't really going to like next week because it's not going to look anything like that. And worse, if they didn't like it at all, you don’t get to say, ‘Yeah, but it's not usually like this. You'll like it next week instead.’
Do make Easter like every weekend.
Because hopefully, every weekend will have people checking out your church. But just give it a bump. Give it something extra. Because it is Easter. But just don’t go completely off script. Be authentic.
Don’t plan Easter pageants, Easter plays or extra services.
Your whole team will cash in all their energy and all their creativity on those other things and they'll be tired. So your Easter service will just lack that extra something – and that ‘something’ is their energy and enthusiasm exhausted elsewhere.
Do make your first-time guests feel special.
Even though you should do these things every weekend, it’s even more important to do so on Easter because Easter is more of a come-and-see environment, and we’ll have more guests than usual. Download your free copy of "Your Volunteers: Place" As you think through that whole experience, start in the parking lot all the way through the service. Put yourself in the shoes of a new person; it’s intimidating for people outside the church to come to church.
Don’t talk for ‘insiders.’
When you prepare the service or greeting, talk like them. Again, get rid of language that doesn’t connect. Even the word ‘worship’ means different things to different guests.
Do make sure guests feel welcome as soon as they walk through your doors.
This is pretty basic – and it’s free – but you’d be amazed at how often it’s missed. Make them feel like you've been expecting them. Have amazing greeters in place. Coach your staff and volunteers to avoid the Christian huddles that can happen in the gathering spaces. Nothing is worse than walking through the doors and immediately feeling like you don't belong.
Do make sure to welcome new guests during the service.
That is, welcome them without calling them out. Let them know that you know they’re there. Use phrases like, ‘If you’re new to church this weekend, we invite you to sing along. If you’d rather observe or just take it in, that’s great. We’re just really glad you’re here.’ Phrases like that really put people at ease so they know what to expect.
Do make sure the facilities and environment are welcoming for their guests.
Have a great signage. Again, people like to feel like they can at least fake it like they've been there and that they belong there. So great signage helps people know where to go for kids, restrooms, and where the auditorium is. Make it easy for them to come in and find a seat. In fact, have a great ushering team that can quickly and comfortably help them find a seat because that's what they want to do; they just kind of want to disappear at first.
Do give them a reason to come back.
Create an amazing guest experience for them at Easter; tell them a compelling message about Jesus and how God's word still applies in their life. But literally invite them to come back. Hopefully, you've got a new series coming up that you can promote that'll be applicable to their lives – so tell them about that.
Ultimately, the success of your Easter services depends on your ability to create an experience they want to come back to. And with just a little forethought and consideration, you can do just that.
There's always a next step:
Volunteers are a precious component of church life. And they can do amazing work to help grow the Kindgom. Download our NEW ebook, "Your Volunteers: Place". It isn’t about staffing a team of random people; it’s about knowing enough about each individual to offer a customized volunteer opportunity to fit their specific interests, skills, passions and gifts.