As a pastor of nearly 20 years, I absolutely love Easter. I love what it means to my personal faith. Jesus is alive; He has risen. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. I love what it means to my church. Whether it was a very small church I pastored of 12 people or a little larger church of nearly 300, Easter was and is or just “has always been” special. There is an excitement and a joy on Easter morning we do not always experience.
My wife and I saw “Beauty and the Beast” a couple of weeks ago. As I sit here writing down my thoughts about Easter, I’m still singing songs from the movie. I especially like the song, “Be Our Guests.” It always makes me think about the guests we get every Sunday morning. On Easter, every church in America will have guests come who may not normally come. Are you excited about those who may come to our church on Sunday? Here are few ideas of how you can get ready for your very special guests this Sunday.
Before Sunday: Invite
Before Easter morning, your task is simple: Invite people to our Easter worship celebration. Lifeway Research (http://lifewayresearch.com/) asked a question: Do you plan to attend a worship service on Easter? 39% of the people respond, “No” and 41% responded, “Yes.” While not surprising, it was a little discouraging. However, 20% of those polled said they don’t know. They haven’t decided. Consider that number. 1 in 5 people are keeping their options open. That is great news. Imagine if every member in our church would invite 5 people to church this Sunday. The odds are in our favor that at least one of those five will attend. Be bold! Invite people to church on Easter Sunday. Many will be very open to the invitation. Take a moment to consider the following:
“Christians who automatically attend church on Easter should be mindful of their many friends, neighbors and family members who haven’t ruled out the idea of attending,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “It may be that a personal invitation is what would make a difference to them.” (http://lifewayresearch.com/2013/03/26/survey-one-in-five-americans-undecided-about-easter-church-attendance/)
On Sunday: Be Intentional with our guests
Be excited about the guests who come. They are not a nuisance. They are our guests and we want to make them feel at home. Here are a couple of intentional ideas for you to try on Sunday:
- Arrive in the gathering area early. Grab a cup of coffee and talk to people. Mingle with people. Don’t mingle with only people you know, but make a point of meeting new people. Make sure they know where the coffee is, where the bathrooms are, where the nursery is and where our welcome center is located. Make a point of going out of your way to make them feel welcome.
- Sit up closer to the front. I know what you are thinking. My regular seat is on the back row. Imagine if our “regular” attendees would be willing to move up closer to the front. Too often we make our guests walk farther down the aisle and find a seat on the front row. Let’s give them the seats in the back of our worship center. It would be so much easier for them.
- Greet the guests first. Like every Sunday, there will be a greeting time. Make a point of going out of your way to talk with people you don’t know. Find ones who may be standing around awkwardly and make a point of saying hello.
- Take an active role in worship. Can I pass on a novel idea? Sing and sing loudly. Sing with joy in your heart. Let our guest think we really believe this news about Easter. We really believe Jesus is alive and has changed everything. Smile! It’s ok for a guest to leave saying our music was good, the preaching wasn’t horrible, but those people sure love Jesus. I think God can use that for His glory.
- One of our goals is to get follow-up information on our guests. Help us in the process. Make sure they know about our Welcome Center. Let them know one of the gifts they will receive for turning in their communication card is a free breakfast sandwich card from Chick-fil-A.
Are you realizing these are habits we should be doing every week, not just on Easter?
After Easter Sunday: Invest in our guests
Our greatest desire is to see our guests come back the next week. Imagine what would happen if every member took the time to invest in our guests. What could God do with a very simple invitation? Consider meeting a guest on Sunday. Introduce yourself. Invite them personally to attend church next Sunday and invite them to have lunch when they come back to church. Contact the church office on Monday. Take a name of one of our guest families and adopt them. Personally call them and invite them back. Be intentional with our guest on Monday morning, too.
There will be a peak in our attendance this Sunday. It goes without saying, you have already started praying for your pastor and worship leaders. We can do all the physical things we can, but what we need more than anything is a pouring out of God’s Spirit upon the church. Pray for God to do just that. No, may I say, beg God to pour His Spirit upon your church this Sunday. Only He can make dead bones live.