Hopefully you are experiencing a closer walk with Jesus this Lenten season. Lent is a time for believers to go deeper in Christ and to follow him in greater ways. Experiencing Christ is so good. Out of our rich experience of Christ then flows our expressing Christ to others. Experiencing Him and Expressing Him go together. In less than a month, Easter Sunday will be here. And as you know, in our culture, Easter is still one of the best times to express Christ to the world around us. It’s often a church’s largest attendance of the year with more visitors. It gives us an important opportunity to introduce people to Jesus and bring them into God’s Kingdom.
To make the most of this opportunity, here are 4 ways to be ready for Easter to see people come, receive new life in Christ, and hopefully, join your church.
- Fish for unchurched people. Jesus calls us to be “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Effective fishing for people usually involves a lot of relational time with them prior to inviting them to church. However, studies have repeatedly shown that personal invitation is the number one reason people visit and then join a church. Prayerfully identify one or two people that you already know who are unchurched whom you can invite to Easter Sunday worship. Church leaders: create invite cards with the church information that people can easily hand out. I often bought stock invite cards from outreach.com which I would also use as the title of the sermon.
- First Impression matters. When a first-time guest comes to your church on Easter, what will their first impressions be? Of the grounds and facility? Of the children’s space? Of the restrooms? Of the way they are welcomed? Of how easily they could follow the liturgy if they’ve never been in an Anglican church? Will their impression be one that says, “This place is alive, welcoming, and a place I could belong!” or “This place is not thriving and didn’t care if I came or come back.” Think through every aspect of the Sunday morning experience from the parking lot to the time a visitor leaves with “fresh eyes.” What will they see that you now overlook? Have everything communicate to visitors that your church is alive and you want them to join you in your mission in the world.
- Finalize the message. This point is specifically for the one preaching. I know that as Anglicans we have an “Altar Call” every week when we invite people forward for Holy Communion, however that is not the same as giving people an opportunity to pray and believe in Jesus as their savior and Lord. Assuming the sermon on Easter will address Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin, it is important to finalize that good news message with a clear application of how to receive it. Invite people to pray a prayer, repeating after you, admitting their sin, believing that Jesus took their sin upon himself and asking for forgiveness, committing to follow him as their Lord. What if there is even one guest on Easter who is unsaved and that’s the only Sunday they’ll ever be in church? Call or email me if you’d like to discuss specific “Anglicany” ways to do invitations from the pulpit.
- Follow-up with guests. What is your churches’ plan to follow up with those who visit on Easter Sunday? Do you have a means for them to give you their contact information? If you do and they provide it to you, what is your plan to contact them? What will you say when you do? What would be the next step you’d like them to take that would help them move toward joining your church? If they made a commitment to follow Jesus, do you have a plan to help them do that in your church?Interestingly, this last point and the first really go together. Church members are much more likely to “Fish” for people and invite them to church if they know the church has a plan to follow up with the people they invite and make them Christ’s disciples.
May God bless your Easter Sunday worship this year. May every believer rejoice in the hope given in the resurrection and may every non-believer who comes to your church hear the good news is for them and come to believe and follow the risen Christ too!
The Rev. Canon Mark Eldredge is Director of Church Revitalization and Coaching.