A few days ago, a pastor asked me if I had any “Easter tips” to share. My pastor friend, like most churches, has begun or already planned their Easter weekend services. Having a few tips isn’t a bad idea.
This Easter we will all expect new guests, many of them returning to church - any church - for the first time in years. There will be people who appear “new,” but who gather with our faith communities twice a year: Easter and Christmas. Most of us will see more people attend our Easter services than on a “normal” weekend. Because of this, it’s not unusual for local churches to put a tremendous amount of focus on promotion, programming, worship and the sermon/talk. And rightly so - it’s THE capstone of the church calendar, the central celebration of people who follow the ways of Jesus.
But, I’m curious: are you thinking with the same intentionality about how to serve your new guests when they arrive in just a few weeks? How will you approach your guests, expecting that many of them will not be back until Christmas - nine months from Easter?
- We may focus on "managing the crowd" and overlook individuals with whom we could connect.
- We may merely attempt to get through the weekend and mishandle the additional staffing needs that exist.
- We may merely be "nice," and not fully "show up."
- We may say "thanks for being here" without any expectation - or invitation - for our guests to return next weekend for service.
- We may assume people are coming in for a "show" or a traditional, annual, Easter service and dismiss the fact that people still enter our building broken, lonely, confused, and searching for hope.
What if we agreed to..
- staff our teams with more people than we "need,” so we can be particularly attentive to opportunities Spirit opens with individuals we'll greet?
- not be so focused on the logistics and details of an abnormally large crowd that we miss people?
- pray for people before they arrive, as they walk through our doors, as they listen to the Good News of Jesus?
- meet people where they are, embracing them with LOVE and radical acceptance?
- intentionally invite our guests to join us the week after Easter?
Here are a few more questions to ask and answer as you plan for Resurrection Weekend:
- What experience do we want our guests to experience?
- Is it somehow unique from every other weekend? If so, how?
- What do we need to do differently than other weekends because of the unique experience we want or the size of the crowds?
- In order to create this experience, how many team members do we need on hand?
- And what’s our commitment to identify team members who are wired for people and not merely a warm body with program in hand?
- Rather than merely multiply or add, consider: do we need to disproportionately increase team members in some areas and not others?
- What about kids' check-in? New family hosts? The parking lot?
- What do we expect of staff - any staff, all staff - on this weekend?
- What opportunity will we provide guests to help us connect with them, to meaningfully invite them to take a step to belonging? How will we do this in the least intrusive way?
- How will we follow-up?
- What systems must be in place following Easter weekend?
- Who else in addition to staff will make calls, send notes and follow-up with each guest who is identified?
Let’s embrace, not the demands of Easter, but the message of Easter. The message of Jesus, the message of LOVE, the message that “everyone is invited.” No one is left out. No one. It’s an all-inclusive Kingdom. LOVE lives to invite everyone to belong.
- What will you do this Easter to invite belonging?
- What do you have planned?
- What systems are already in place?
- What recognition is prepared for new guests?
How are you answering some of these questions? Leave a comment; join the conversation.