By Dennis Garcia
Unchurched people are more likely to attend your church on Easter than any other week of the year.
LifeWay Research shows that 93% of pastors report Easter Sunday as the highest attendance Sunday of the year for their church. At my previous church, we averaged around 150 a week and over 300 on Easter.
How do we as church leaders leverage this cultural phenomenon and make the most of this opportunity? Here are five ways.
1. Prayer Focus
First and foremost we must admit nothing we can do will change a heart. We know this, yet sometimes we work as if we have the power to change hearts.
Leading your church to focus on prayer is a great reminder that it’s God and God alone who draws people to Christ and saves souls.
Several weeks before Easter, challenge your congregation to a time of prayer.
First, ask them to create a list and pray daily over the names of 1-3 people they plan on inviting to church on Easter. In the past, I’ve had our church turn in the names (first name and last initial) so we as a staff could pray over each one.
Second, distribute a prayer guide that contains specific Scriptures and prompts to pray for the lost in your community. You can easily find pre-printed prayer guides or create your own.
Finally, kick off the Easter season and prayer focus with a night of prayer. This is a great opportunity to bring the congregation together for the primary purpose of asking God to move in the lives of the people in your community.
2. Invite Tools
As church leaders, we all stress the importance of our congregation inviting others to church. According to a LifeWay Research Study most Americans would be open to attending church if invited by a family member, friend, or neighbor. Findings show:
- 67% of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
- 63% of Americans say a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
As church leaders, we can make it easier for our congregation to invite friends and family by providing appropriate tools.
First, print quality invitation cards. These can be business cards or postcard size. Make sure they include the date and times of your Easter service(s) as well as your church’s website and physical address.
Second, make use of social media. Create and post engaging invites to your Easter services that your congregation can share with friends.
Facebook events is another great tool for your congregation to use. Create a Facebook event and allow your members to invite others from the event page.
3. Community Events
There are two primary philosophies when it comes to community engagement in churches: “go and tell” and “come and see.” The reality is, it takes both.
Easter is a great time for using “go and tell” events to invite your community to “come and see.”
Though the default community event is an egg hunt, this isn’t the only option. Servant evangelism projects work well any time of the year.
Also, consider seminars on topics such as finances, parenting, marriage, or other felt needs in your community. These types of events work best when they’re off-site and not too “churchy.”
For other community event ideas, visit with local community leaders or school administrators to find out more about the needs they see in your community.
4. Don’t Waste Your Easter Sunday
While most of the energy surrounding Easter Sunday service(s) typically goes toward music and sermon preparation, other elements of the service shouldn’t be neglected.
One of the most important things that can be done to prepare for the big day is to put energy and resources into first impressions.
A common adage is that a church has 5-7 minutes to make a lasting first impression. This is the amount of time it takes for a first-time guest to decide if they plan on returning for a second visit.
Long before a guest hears one note from the band or one word of the message, they’ve already formed an opinion about the church. For ideas on how to improve first impressions at your church, Devin Maddox offers some suggestions in this Facts & Trends article.
Beyond first impressions, don’t forget to talk to your guests during the service. Toward the beginning of the service, welcome and thank guests for attending.
There’s no shortage of things to do on a Sunday morning, especially on Easter. Make a big deal of the fact that your guests have chosen to spend that time with you. At the end of the service, thank them again and invite them back the following week.
Finally, offer a way for guests to provide their contact information. The best way to do this is during the service using some type of communication card.
Don’t single out your guests by only asking them to fill out the cards. Use this as an opportunity to ask the entire congregation to update their contact information. This will provide positive encouragement for the guests to also fill out their cards.
5. Follow Up
Though often overlooked, follow up is an important part of the Easter season. If a guest attends your service and gives their contact information, it shows they’re interested in your church.
It’s vital to follow up with these individuals to keep them engaged. I suggest a quick phone call within the first 48 hours and a handwritten thank you card in the first week.
These inexpensive and straightforward gestures will have a significant impact on the recipients.
Easter is one of the best opportunities you have to connect with and reach your community. However, it takes intentionality on the part of church leadership to leverage the season for greater impact.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways to leverage higher attendance at Easter, but just a few beginning points.
What have you found works well in your context?
Dennis Garcia (@dennislgarcia) is the husband of Toni, father of Miranda and Kephas, and church planting catalyst serving in Southern New Mexico for the North American Mission Board.