Easter is the end, not the beginning
Just like football has its “Super Day” every year, many churches view Easter Sunday as their “Super Day” for reaching out to the community. People who only come a few times a year are getting their “Sunday Best” ready and you want them at your church! For those of us who have been in ministry for any amount of time, we lovingly have words like “Creaster” or “CEO” (Christmas and Easter Only) for the people who only show up twice a year. The pressure on us to have an amazing Easter service is overwhelming. We only see them twice per year, so we’d better roll out the red carpet.
Some churches put on massive events (carnivals, Easter egg drops from helicopters, huge breakfasts, Good Friday banquets, etc.) and see thousands of people show up the days before Easter, but very few of those people translate to guests on Easter, let alone new members.
Either way, it’s a lot of work isn’t it? Finding the perfect song with the perfect lighting and the perfect sermon, or having the helicopter drop from the right height, or the carnival have the right amount of activities so everyone can participate…. for those in ministry, Easter Sunday is the biggest Sunday of the year!
In scripture, we read things like “Behold, I make all things new,” and we view Easter as the beginning, as new life, as a fresh start for humanity, as an opportunity for people to start their relationship with Jesus.
When we put so much emphasis on one weekend, and move forward deeply believing Easter is the beginning, we can find ourselves feeling disillusioned that one service or event wasn’t enough for people to decide they want to come back to our church. To go emotionally from nearly 1,000 guests at a Saturday event to a handful on Sunday morning… that’s hard.
But what if Easter isn’t the beginning? What if it’s the end? What if Easter is the culmination of an entire year’s worth of effort to reach your community?
In our current culture, people often have to hear a message multiple times for it to resonate. In marketing, the phrase “six to stick” is used when talking about how many times someone needs to hear a message.
Biblically, the idea of “the gospel being foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18) is a very similar concept. Hearing the gospel once rarely penetrates deep into people’s hearts. It seems to require a lot of watering and care for the message to take hold and yield fruit.
In light of what the Bible itself says about hearing the gospel, and research from companies who exist to make sure people truly receive a message, what if we approach Easter as “message number 6” that our community hears? What if there’s a concerted, strategic effort to reach out to your community in many ways all year long? In choosing this approach, when you invite them to your Easter event/service, it isn’t the first time they’ve heard about your church, but rather, it’s one of the first times your name is connected to a direct invitation to a church service. What does that look like?
1) Create a culture where Acts of Kindness are normal
2) Give out an over-abundant number of free t-shirts to your members and ask them to wear them in the community, especially at the gym and when serving others.
3) Participate in your community. Have a float in parades, sponsor festivals or outdoor movie nights, or other visible events in your city. (Remember, sponsor events to make them more fun/better for participants, not to tell people they need Jesus yet!)
4) Invest in your local schools by reading to young students, tutoring, buying supplies for teachers, volunteering for cleanup days, etc.
5) Open your church facility to groups/people that need meeting space. (Foster parent support groups, community meetings, ESL classes, community band rehearsals, AA, etc.)
6) Partner with community organizations to find seniors/veterans in need and meet those needs. (Cut the grass, shovel snow, help with landscaping, fix roof leaks, minor home/car repairs, etc.)
The goal of all of these activities is to get your name out, gain awareness, and build a positive impression in your community. When people receive an invitation to your Easter services (or Christmas), it won’t be the first time they’ve heard of your church and their impression of your church will already be favorable. In this sense, Easter is the end of an entire year’s worth of planning and preparation to earn the opportunity to have people come visit the church they’ve heard so much about.
Culminating an entire year’s worth of effort and planning, on one of the 2 days per year people are more open to visiting your church, takes the pressure off you to convince people in a 1 hour event that your church is relevant to their lives year-round and they need Jesus. They will have (hopefully!) already seen the impact your church makes on your community throughout the year, and the church service is just the icing on the cake.
Could placing Easter at the end be the beginning of new growth and life in your church?
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