This Sunday, churches across North America and the world will be invaded by a special breed of person. They grace us with their presence every Christmas and Easter and are thus called, Chreasters or CEOs (Christmas Easter and Other). To be honest with you, when in my first few years of ministry, I was a little agitated with them. How dare they come only once or twice a year? I wanted to stand up in church and scream in Christ-like righteous anger, “Where in the world have you been all year?” But then I began looking for them every holiday. It wasn’t long until I appreciated them and now I even plan for them. There are many reasons I love Easter, and few more important than it brings many people who only hear the Gospel once or twice a year into your church. Are you ready for them? Are you expecting them and wanting them to come? Here are a couple of reminders to pastors and churches.
Pastors, it’s ok to consider your guests as you plan your sermon. This is probably not the Sunday to bring out that hour-long sermon you’ve been longing to preach to your seminary professor to prove to him how smart you are. Don’t worry; your wife knows your not as smart as you think you are. Be gospel-rich, theologically sound and point your audience to the hope of our risen Lord. Remember, the gospel is powerful enough on its own. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t create on Easter Sunday what you are unable or unwilling to create on Labor Day Sunday. Don’t create a show you put on but communicate so the Spirit will put Himself in. By all means, be on point this Sunday; make sure Jesus is your point. Preach Jesus.
Regular attendees, as you arrive, if you are able, park a little farther away. Wear your Fitbit that morning to assure you receive credit for your steps. Try and sit closer to the front this week. If you are a Baptist, I know that goes against all holy and godly habits, but don’t make your guest walk down the aisle. Remember, there is no assigned seating at church. If all goes well on Sunday, someone will be seated in your seat. That is gloriously good news. By all means, go out of your way to talk to people you don’t know. However, if you see someone new, don’t say, “Wow, it must be Easter. I haven’t seen you in a year.” Also, don’t say to a person, “Are you new here?.” There’s a chance they’ve been coming to the church for weeks and they are only new to you. It’s probably not in the interest of retaining your guest to say, “What in the world are you doing here? This is the last place I expected to see you.” Instead, when you see someone new this weekend or someone you haven’t seen since last Easter, simply say, “It sure is good to have you in church today.” It’s simple, direct and effective. Mingle. Be kind. Be joyful.
Finally, sing this Sunday. Let your guests see and hear the joy of your salvation. You will be singing about our risen Lord, Jesus. Don’t sing with a frown on your face. Smile. Let your guests see you are really happy to be in church and feel remarkably blessed to be a child of God. There should be a joy in your church this Sunday that will be able to be felt by everyone there. I like to remind people that Jesus will still be alive next Sunday too. It might be appropriate to have some joy next Sunday as well, just a thought.
To our guests: Churches welcome you. We are looking forward to having you with us. Come early, grab a cup of coffee and fellowship with us. We are genuinely glad you are here. Don’t worry about anything, simply be our guests. We have been expecting you and want you to know God loves you passionately, and we are excited to have you worship with us. If the service raises any questions in your mind, please contact the church. I know the pastor would love to meet with you and discuss your questions. In the future, if we can ever be of service to you, please let us know.
Have a great Easter Sunday. My prayer for all churches is the Holy Spirit will prepare you well, use you greatly and exalt Jesus deeply. Welcome your guests, preach Jesus, and all will be fine. Wake up on Monday and get ready to do it all again. Easter may come once a year, but we get an opportunity to welcome guests every Sunday. Be ready. If you aren’t careful, you may realize Easter Sunday is the way it’s supposed to be every Sunday. He is Risen!