Easter Sunday.

A day where we get to dress up and stand on our front lawns, in our suits and pastels, with Nana to get the perfect family photo and post it on Instagram so that everyone can know that we are truly #blessed. There’s also brown sugar-honey glazed ham, deviled eggs, and who could forget the sugary Pepto-Bismol coated dessert that are Peeps? A strange dessert phenomenon if I’ve ever seen one.

We know that these fun, silly traditions we hold are downright laughable when we look at the actual reason we celebrate Easter, but our non-believing friends and family may very well be clueless.

For some of us, Easter may have been the first time we heard the gospel and fell humbly, flat on our faces, in front of Jesus and knew we could never repay Him for what He has done. It was then that we decided we would give our lives to love and serve Him. That is what we desperately want our guests to experience. Whether first timers or regular attenders. We want them to hear the gospel, “get it”, and experience life change.

Around the world, church attendance peaks on Easter Sunday. That’s exciting and encouraging, but it also means many pastors feel added pressure to preach one of their best sermons ever. Everyone is listening to you and you know what’s at stake.

As you head into the Easter season, here are five practical (and hopefully, encouraging) tips to help you prepare your Easter message.

#1 – Find and pick one angle.

There are so many different ways you can approach an Easter sermon.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have different perspectives on the resurrection. The Last Supper is rich with meaning. What did doubting Thomas feel?  Pontius Pilate is also an interesting character.

There are the Old Testament prophecies, the symbolism of baptism, and the truth of Galatians 2:20.  All of these passages and stories are about the resurrection, but each of them adds a different dimension.

You don’t have to cover every angle in your Easter message.  That’s impossible. But as you study and pray for what God wants to say to His church on Easter, settle on one.


#2 – Keep it simple.

I always thought Easter messages were some of the toughest to prepare because even though everyone knew what I was going to say, I wanted to share it in an original and creative way. In the weeks leading up to Easter, I’d look for some new angle and try some new, creative approach. But as the day got closer, things would get simpler.  The fluff would get cut and the message would end up where it should have started…the resurrection of Jesus. As you prepare your Easter sermon, don’t worry about preaching the most amazing message ever.  Don’t try to dazzle people with your understanding the Old Testament or first century legal practices.  You’re not trying to win a preaching award; you’re proclaiming Jesus and offering hope. Preach the simple truth of the resurrection – the single most important event in human history.  That’s enough. You don’t have to win a preaching award on Easter. Preach the resurrection of Jesus – it’s enough!

#3 – Keep it real.

As you’re working through a text and crafting your message, don’t forget the people who will hear this message. With any message, it’s easy to dive deep in the Bible, but forget about the audience. You’re not just preaching the Bible…you’re preaching the Bible to people.. “[When preparing a sermon] I think of the man with stage 4 cancer, the woman struggling to breathe through her worsening lung disease, the single mom with questioning teenagers, the couple married this year without any family support, the daughter who just buried her beloved dad, and the moms who gave birth since last Easter. No other pastor, no other sermon will reach these loved children of God in quite the same way!” The Easter message is a great opportunity to offer hope to hurting people.  Think about those people as you are writing your sermon. Easter is an opportunity to offer hope to hurting people.

#4 – Finish preparing early.

A few years ago, I helped create a coaching program called Preaching Rocket. Our goal there was to help pastors give better sermons.  We knew one of the key ways pastors could accomplish this was to finish their sermons earlier, even if it was just a few days. When you finish your message earlier, you give the Holy Spirit more time to work on you. You get to preach the message to yourself. You get to internalize before you sermonize. And this is particularly important on a week like Easter. If you can take time to reflect on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, without the crunch of having to finish the most important sermon of the year, you’ll preach a better message on Resurrection Sunday. Finish your message on Wednesday so you can take time to personally reflect on the resurrection.

#5 – Get feedback in advance.

Evaluation after the fact can be useful. In fact, we recommend pastors regularly use the Sermon Evaluation Form to solicit honest evaluation from listeners. But feedback before you preach the sermon, particularly a sermon as important as Easter, can be even more helpful. On Tuesday or Wednesday before Easter, send your outline or your notes to five people in the congregation and ask for feedback. Do the stories and illustrations really connect? Does the message look encouraging to outsiders as well as insiders? Ask men and women, young and old. Do they hear a message of hope? You don’t have to wait until after Sunday is over to get feedback on your message.  Seek it out in advance when you actually have time to make changes.

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