Note: this is from our archives and many of the publications have updated versions in the TEMPLATES section. However, the overall theory here is an important summary for why you need to do all the things you need to do to get people involved in your church following Easter and I thought it would be useful for you to go through. The PDF download at the end has all the publications pictured.
In most churches their biggest turnout of the year is for Easter Sunday. This doesn't happen by accident-churches pour time, money, and resources into their church communications prior to Easter and it pays off with a full-sanctuary for multiple services. However, few churches have a continuing increase in attendance after Easter.
Easter week may have been fantastic, but without intentionally working on developing a continuing relationship with the people who only come at this time of year, we aren't communicating the total message of Easter. Jesus came to earth, died on the cross, and rose from the grave to enable us to have an eternal relationship with him, not just a yearly visit to his church.
For the Easter activities of your church to build relationships, you may need to expand your goals in the communications you create for this time of year. The remainder of this article will give you some ideas on how to do this.
Make Easter a connecting point, not the end result
In the church communication production prior to the Easter season, almost everything is geared solely towards getting people to the Easter week services. Though this is a worthwhile goal, if it is your only goal, you'll not accomplish all you could to make a lasting impact in people's lives and in the growth of your church.
Instead of seeing Easter week attendance as the only goal and end result, consider changing your thinking and strategy. Look at Easter as a connection point between your community and Jesus and your church. You want to bring people into the church Easter week, but you don't want them to go away and never come back-you want them to meet Jesus, to begin and grow in a relationship with Him. In addition, you want them to get to know your church and to enter into a continuing relationship with your church community.
To accomplish these purposes, you have to be very intentional long before Easter in not only the communications you create to get them there (which you most likely already have in place as you are reading this) but also in what you give people at each event or service during Easter week.
There are two overall areas in which you need to create communications at this time: communications to introduce and connect them to Jesus and communications to introduce and connect them to your church
Some current studies show that because people in our post-Christian world know so little about Jesus and the Christian faith that it often takes seven or more (think multiple, at least) exposures to the gospel message before someone can make an informed decision to follow Jesus.
People simply do not have the exposure to the Christian message that they did in years past. Some people (46% of unchurched people, in fact), do not even know that Easter has anything to do with the resurrection of Jesus. They may come to your church for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with spiritual seeking. They may want to spend time with family or hear the music or take their kids to the special programs.
They may hear that Jesus rose from the dead for the first time-and like any new message, they will most likely initially reject it. Make that OK. Acknowledge that people visiting the church may have questions about the message, invite them to question, dialog and explore.
For example, have a bulletin insert that invites them to seeker studies, offer websites that answer questions, do whatever you can to encourage them to continue their explorations. You can create our own with this message:
Still have questions?
Many people do.
You've just heard the story of Jesus rising from the dead, but after you leave the church, when brunch is over and you've had your fill of chocolate, you might wonder-is it just a story?
Or did it really happen?
If it did, what does it mean to me?
If you've got those questions, we've got options for you.
On the back of this sheet we hope you'll check out the websites and events we've got to help you in your research.
Take all the time you want.
The issues are worth it.
On the back of a handout like this you could then list some upcoming seeker Bible studies or discussions, some websites to explore, some books they might want to read. Be sure also to include emails or phone numbers of folks who would be willing to interact with people who have questions about the Christian faith and who are able to lead a seeker to Jesus.
Some people might come to your church Easter week, knowing quite a bit about Jesus and the gospel message, but it simply has not all come together for them. Sometimes a clear, gospel tract or pamphlet that explains what it means to be a Christ follower and how to become one will make an eternal difference for them.
Check with your denomination for a tract that is appropriate to your church or look at the ones available through the www.crossway.com/tracts. They are appropriate for any church. They have tracts, packages for children and all sorts of resources for year round that clearly explain the Christian message.
Communications to introduce people to your church and the ministries of your church
In most churches Easter Sunday services are held at different times than usual; the programs are unique for Easter; some ministries hold extra-special events, some ministries don't meet at all.
Without thinking it through consciously at all, churches will often assume that just because folks really enjoyed bringing their kids to the petting zoo the church held at Easter and that the kids enjoyed the chocolate goodies from the Easter egg hunt that they will bring their kids back to Sunday school the next week.
A bit disappointment often takes place when this doesn't happen. But church folks must realize that if you don't specifically tell people (usually with a piece of PRINTED communications) what you do on a regular basis on Sunday, they may not even know what Sunday School is and that it is something that is available for their kids.
Not only for the children's ministry, but for all the ministries in the church and for your church overall, you must be intentional about telling people what you do on a regular basis and invite them to participate. Following are some specifics on how to do this:
Invite them to your upcoming Sunday morning preaching series
Many churches have extra services and times for their Easter Sunday service that are different from what they do on a regular basis. Be sure to include a bulletin insert made up like an invitation that says something like the material below to let them know the regular times of your services and your upcoming sermon series:
We are so glad you took time to attend our Easter Celebration Service.!
We'd like to invite you back to church next week when we resume our regular weekly Celebration Schedule. Our regular service times are: Sundays, 9:30 am; 11 am, and Saturday 6:30pm.
Use your Easter service as a lead-in to a continuing series of upcoming sermons. You've just preached about the resurrection of Jesus and after Easter is a great time to answer people's questions about some of the most important issues of life and death. Tell them about the upcoming topics in your Easter bulletin and invite them to return.
Our upcoming sermon series is:
Week one: What does Jesus resurrection mean to me?
Week two: Will we recognize our loved ones after death?
Week three: Will people be bored in heaven?
Week four: Can people get kicked out of heaven?
Invite them to children's events. If you had special activities for children for Easter, again, don't assume that just because people came to your petting zoo and Easter Egg hunt that they understand what you do at Sunday School every week.
You need a special insert or handout that says something like:
We hope your children enjoyed our special Easter Events for Kids!
This is just is just a little sample of the wonderful things our church does for children on a weekly basis. We'd like to invite you back next week at 9:30-10:30 am for our Children's Hour. At that time we have classes for all ages with our carefully screened and trained children's teachers.
Your children will hear a Bible story, play games, make a little craft and have a snack. It will be a fun, safe, learning time for them. You can visit our adult church service while they are there and they won't be released until you return to pick them up from their class.
We'd love to have your children come next Sunday or any Sunday-for more information, please call Miss Betty at 555-5555, or check out the children's ministry section on our website.
Invite them to events that you didn't hold on Easter
Do you have an adult education program? Small groups? A Single Adult Ministry?
The schedule is very different on Easter for many churches and you many have a visitor who is looking for more than just the Sunday morning service, for example, for something for Singles or kids or men, but they have no idea what you do on a regular basis. Or this might be their first exposure to church and they have no idea what other things churches do.
It's a good idea to give out to every visitor a brochure or booklet that outlines all the ministries of your church along with contact information on your website, email and phone numbers. If you don't have time to put together something that extensive, at least have announcements like this in your Sunday morning bulletin:
Attention Single Adults!
First Church of Everytown has a place for you! Our OASIS Single Adult Ministry is open to any single adult. We meet every Sunday morning from 11 am to 12 pm at the Fellowship Hall (that's the big room that looks like a gym that you went by on your way to the worship service).
We've got great coffee and munchies; we listen to a challenging talk from the Bible and then we sit around tables and discuss the topic for about 20 minutes. Afterwards we all go out to lunch together. We've got lots of other events going on during the month that we'd love to tell you about. You can also check out our single's ministry website.
Child care is available or children are welcome to join us at all our events.
We'd love to have you join us any Sunday or any time. For more information please call Pastor Paul at 555-5555.
Creating invitations and material like this is a lot of extra work at this extra busy time, but it is vitally important if you want the efforts you have expended at Easter to be a time for continuing attendance and growth in your church.
Easter PDFs Publications
The download link is below. This PDF contains print-ready PDFs of all the items just featured.
Click on the link that follows to download the #1 Easter 2010 PDFs COMPLETE