In the middle of a busy Lenten season and with all the preparations for Holy Week, it is easy to lose focus on our mission and not make the most of the opportunity Easter Sunday gives us to fulfill the Great Commission.
Here’s a quick reminder of some important ways to be ready for Easter and 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). One aspect of fishing for people is to invite them to church. 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. You can ask God to bring to your mind who he’d have you invite. If you are in a position to influence the worship the next few Sundays, give people in church a quiet moment to ask the Lord to put on their minds who He would have them invite to Easter. If God puts a name or two on yours or someone’s mind, they will be more likely to act on it and extend the invitation.
- 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.” Between now and Easter, take the time to 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. 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. I was taught every sermon should end with a “will you? Will you repent and believe in him for the forgiveness of your sin and to receive eternal life.” 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? You can do this! 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 church’s 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 that the good news is for them and come to believe and follow the risen Christ too!
For those of you who regularly read my church revitalization article series, you might notice this article seems a lot like one I wrote a year ago. That would be because it is a lot like an article I wrote a year ago! Why? Because everything I said last year about being ready for visitors on Easter Sunday last year applies this year, as it will next year and so on!
The Rev. Canon Mark Eldredge is Director of Church Revitalization and Coaching.