Tips for Easter from Our Canon for Church Growth a

Tips for Easter from Our Canon for Church Growth a

The choir is rehearsing, the altar guild is planning the decorations, the priest is thinking about the sermon ... all to prepare for the most important Sunday of the year, the day we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection.  But is your church really ready for Easter?

By Canon for Church Growth and Development, the Rev. Canon Susan Brown Snook

The choir is rehearsing, the altar guild is planning the decorations, the priest is thinking about the sermon ... all to prepare for the most important Sunday of the year, the day we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection.


But is your church really 
ready for Easter?

 Here is a checklist of things to do to get your church 
ready for the biggest celebration of the year:


Invitations:


It's a major celebration - have you invited your friends? 
Here are some things to do:


Give your members easy invitation materials - print a postcard with Holy Week and Easter information and hand it out to everyone, asking each church member to invite someone else. 
 
Don't forget to invite people who are connected to your church, but not attenders - AA participants, Scout troops, etc. Many of them don't have a church home and would appreciate an invitation. 
 
Put a big banner outside the church with your Easter service times and make sure it says "All Are Welcome!"
 
Make sure Easter service times appear on the home page of your website, and that there is a landing page so people can click and get details of your Holy Week and Easter celebrations. 
 
You can go an extra step and do easy advertising on Facebook for as little as $20. Make your own Facebook ad, or use a video provided by the Acts 8 Movement. You can find a free invitation video and tutorial here: //www.acts8movement.org/your-free-easter-invitation-video
 
Worship:

As you prepare Easter worship, make it joyful. Use familiar hymns that everyone will sing. Pace the music joyfully, not funereally.
 
The sermon should celebrate the great truths of Christianity without being a major theological treatise. Beginner Christians need to understand that the Son of God is alive and promises eternal, abundant life to us. Easter is a time to savor the story of Jesus, clearly and compellingly. 
 
Explain what you are doing. Episcopal worship can be confusing. Consider printing a full bulletin to help people find their way. Issue an invitation to communion that welcomes all baptized Christians and instructs people how to take communion if they've never been to an Episcopal church before. 


The Building

Mom always told me to clean up the house when company is coming! So do a complete spruce-up. Walk through the building as if you've never seen it before. Look for stashed stuff that hasn't been moved for a while. Check out the narthex, the office, the nave, the restrooms, and every part of the building and grounds to make sure the church is clean, tidy, and welcoming. Dust it, shine it, mop it, mow it, weed it. Schedule a cleanup day and get everyone involved!
 
Can people find their way? Are there clear signs that mark the restrooms, the nursery, the children's classrooms, etc.? Make it easy for people who haven't visited you before.


Speaking of signs, can visitors find the front door? Lots of our churches have big red doors, but the members all know that the REAL door is around back. Station greeters at BOTH doors, make sure the doors are wide open and welcoming, and make sure there are signs to help people figure out how to get in.


Is the nursery clean and welcoming? It should be spotless and child-safe (no exposed plugs or tiny toys that a child could choke on). Disinfect the toys and clean the carpet. And make sure you have two responsible adult caregivers on duty if you are going to provide a nursery.


Greeters:

Station friendly, welcoming people at the entrances to the church. These greeters should be in addition to the ushers, who tend to be task-focused. You want some greeters who are people-focused to welcome people, introduce them to others, and help them find their way.
 
Get contact information from newcomers if you can. Have your greeters invite people in a friendly way to sign the guest book or guest card and include their contact information. 
 
Consider having gifts for newcomers that include a brochure or other information about the church and its ministries. To go an extra mile, like one of our Oklahoma churches does, get first names of newcomers and pray for them in the prayers of the people. 
 
Members should make it a priority to greet visitors after the service. You have about 3 minutes at the end of the service to welcome visitors before they decide to sneak out. You can greet your friends later - tell the congregation to greet the newcomers first. And invite them to share refreshments with you. If the parish hall is down the hall and around the corner, take them there. They're unlikely to find it on their own. 



Follow-up:

If people left you their contact information, follow up. Handwritten notes are best for older folks; emails are best for folks in the middle years; texts are best for young adults (but use whatever contact information they gave you). Welcome them, invite them to coffee, tell them you hope to see them again soon. Show an interest in their lives and why they chose to come to church.


Have a special upcoming event to invite people to
. You could schedule something a week or so after Easter: a social service project, a special sermon series, a compelling Christian formation class, a newcomer's class, a prayer and meditation group, etc. Make a big splash and invite people to come. Don't let the Easter opportunity pass you by.



Pray:


Don't forget to pray

Start praying now, and ask your congregation to pray every day for the Easter message to be shared through your church. The Lord is Risen, and there are people who need to hear that good news - the best news there can ever be. Pray for the people who need to know that God loves them. Pray that they will walk through your doors, and that you will be able to share the good news of Christ's love with them.

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