Easter is a special time when believers who regularly attend church are looking forward to an extraordinary Sunday and those who don’t come to church often will show up to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It’s a day that requires extra planning and intentionality for church leaders, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. As we look forward to Easter, here are 10 things to consider doing to make this Easter unforgettable.
Make the Day Extra Special
When you’re planning a party for someone, you want them to walk in and say, “Wow”! You want them to notice that something is different and the house doesn’t look the way it usually does because it’s a momentous occasion. Everyone knows that you’re celebrating them out of love (as we’re celebrating Easter out of love for Jesus), but the details of the celebration show that love in a fun way.
Make your congregation excited about Easter Sunday by incorporating elements that they don’t see every Sunday. That could look many different ways—it all depends on your church context and resources.
In the service, making the day extra special might look like showing testimony videos, holding baptisms, or debuting a new, celebratory stage design. Testimonies that share how a person went from being dead in sin to alive in Christ are especially moving on Easter. The sermon topic of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is also cause for celebration, and so is being together as a church body to remind ourselves that we serve a risen Savior.
You can even make it clear that it’s a special day before people get to their seats! Many people consider Easter a big family day and get all dressed up for it. Putting special decorations out in the lobby or setting up a family photo booth is a nice touch that your church will appreciate. Some churches have a photographer available with a camera and post the photos in a public album after service. But a self-serve photo booth or one with a volunteer who’s available to take phone photos is special, too.
Other fun ideas that can make Easter extra special are…
- Plan a playful activity for kids. This is another way to encourage people in your community to come around for Easter. Whether it’s arts and crafts, treat bags, cookie decorating, or the classic Easter egg hunt, kids activities are a big draw for local families.
- Give something away. It could be spring-themed snacks (donuts, anyone?) in the lobby. Or a donation to a local organization that is helping people see real-life change. Or maybe it’s a QR code that leads to a playlist of Easter worship songs. An act of generosity will always remind people of Jesus and make a day feel special.
- Add an artistic element. Witnessing a beautiful work of art can add to the Easter experience. For example, a powerful spoken word piece by a poet in your congregation or community or a live painting that an artist completes during the worship set.
Encourage People to Invite
With recent research showing that Easter is still the most popular church day in America, it’s essential to plan ahead and start encouraging your church to invite their friends and family.
A report from Barna showed that 52% of practicing Christians are completely comfortable extending an invitation to church. That’s great news for church leaders—now, it comes down to reminding and encouraging people to do it. And we’re all more likely to do something when it’s easy.
That’s the first way to encourage people to invite someone to Easter service: make it easy! Give them the tools (more on that in the next section) and, as research showed, there’s a good chance they’ll do it.
Another practice that motivates people to extend an invitation is hearing stories about the powerful impact an invitation made on someone’s life. A few weeks before Easter, share stories in service of someone who accepted an invitation to church, showed up, and was never the same again. The old adage is true: what gets celebrated, gets repeated.
Equip People to Invite
Let’s say you’re proactive about reminding people to invite their friends and family to church for Easter and your congregation is excited about doing it. How much more effective could their invitation be with the right tools? Help them put their good intentions into action by equipping them with resources to help them get the word out.
Good news: there are plenty of ways to equip people with tools to invite, and many of them don’t cost any extra money.
- Create sharable content on social media. When you share Easter service graphics online, the only audience that sees it is usually people who already attend your church (unless you’re running paid ads). That’s not a bad thing—we could all use a reminder. But to turn it into an invitation opportunity, ask your regular attendees to share the posts on their own social media pages. For example, Facebook makes it easy to share a post and Instagram has a feature that allows people to easily share a page’s content to their Instagram story.
- Provide the whole package. Make it as easy as download, copy, and paste. You probably already have a graphics package for Easter, so make some of those graphics (particularly social media graphics) available for your church members to post or send out via text message. Write captions that include all the important details like church service time and include that copy in an Easter invite package. This gives your church everything they need to send or post an invitation message. You can make this package available for download on your website.
- Use the power of print. It might seem like everyone is on social media, but social media platforms aren’t always the best way to reach everyone. There’s a lot of noise on social media, and nothing compares to a one-on-one, in-person conversation. Invite cards give people something to hand to a person they’re having a conversation with. These cards should include all the essential Easter details, such as what to expect, what time service starts, and any other special elements you might want to call out. Consider providing lawn signs, too—they can be helpful in starting conversations with neighbors.
- Send a text reminder. Text messages have a 98% average open rate. Used sparingly, they can be an effective method of sending important messages to your congregation. And Gloo Messaging makes it easy to send mass text messages to everyone in your database. Shortly before Easter, send a text message out to regular attendees, staff, and volunteers that remind them to invite someone. Bonus points if the text points to a link to where they can download materials to help them do it!
Evaluate Services with New People in Mind
Always expect an influx of first-time guests on Easter. This is an exciting reality of preparing for Easter, but it should also make us pause and ask: Would our services make sense to a new person?
Think about every element of your church services with a guest in mind. You can even download a service evaluation form to review it (Church Fuel has a simple-to-use form in their Resource Library) and ask someone with no ties to your church to fill it out and report what confused them.
Do signs clearly show where to go for parking, service, and children’s ministry? Are you using “insider language” in service that only makes sense to regular attendees? These are all important factors to check before guests arrive on Easter Sunday.
Prepare People Spiritually
Easter is one of the most meaningful seasons for Christians, and the best Easter is one where people connect with Jesus. This can start in the weeks before Easter with resources that help people get centered on the right spiritual mindset.
For example, a 7-day text or email campaign with reminders and encouraging messages on what Easter is really about. Prayer cards or a prayer service prior to Easter can also be helpful. This doesn’t have to be a big production or even a programmed service. The objective for any of these pre-Easter activities is to support your church in growing in intimacy and relationship with Christ before the big, busy Easter Sunday is here.
Refresh Your Follow Up Strategy
In expectation of more first-time guests than usual, the Easter season is the perfect time to review and refresh your church’s follow-up strategy. It’s easy for people to slip through the cracks during such a bustling weekend, but following up with someone who wants to learn more after they’ve attended an Easter service is still a crucial course of action.
We like this straightforward follow-up framework for refreshing (or creating) your church’s follow-up strategy:
- What do you want guests to KNOW?
- What do you want guests to DO?
- What do you want guests to FEEL?
- What do you want guests to BELIEVE?
Structure your follow-up strategy around what guests will need for all of the above to happen. What type of communication should they receive? What information needs to be included? What are their next steps? When it comes to next steps, remember to stick to one action or things can get confusing for guests. For example, ask them to do one thing at the end of their follow-up email, such as sign up for an upcoming newcomer connection event.
Prepare for Guests Publicly
It may be hard to believe, but some people in your church don’t want to invite anyone to service. They might want everything to stay the same or they don’t understand why it’s important. But when you teach your church’s regular attendees about why you’re taking special care for the first-time guest experience, it can help them see the significance of it.
This might be someone’s first time encountering Jesus. This might be someone’s first time hearing about Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. This Easter Sunday could be the day that everything changes in someone’s life.
So, don’t just prepare in silence. Don’t evaluate your services without telling people what you’re doing and why. Don’t invest in an invite package before you’ve given regular attendees the inside information about why this matters to the church.
If you’re adding a new welcome station, take time in one of your services to explain why you’re doing it. Remind your members when their guests come, you will be ready. This kind of public preparation is a great way to create an inviting culture.
Keep Your Easter Message Simple
Writing an Easter sermon can feel like a lot of pressure. You’re expecting a peak in attendance and you want everyone there to hear the best message possible. There’s a pressure to make the message “fresh” or approach the Easter story from a new, creative angle.
However you choose to approach it, we encourage you to stick to one angle and keep the sermon simple.
As you study and pray for what God wants to say to His church on Easter, choose one angle and settle there. Focus on one part of the story and you’ll be able to deliver a clear depiction of the real meaning behind Easter Sunday.
The Easter sermon is important, but so is clarity and the ability to go into Easter week without added stress. After all, preaching the simple truth of the resurrection—the single most important event in human history—is more than enough.
Finish preparing your Easter message early so that you have time to personally reflect on the resurrection and even get feedback. Send your outline or notes to a few people on your church staff or from your congregation. Do the stories and illustrations connect? Does the message encourage outsiders as well as insiders? Do they hear a message of hope? Ask men and women, young and old.
Have a Kick-off
Newness makes any day feel more exciting. On a day as special as Easter, there’s an opportunity to introduce something new to your congregation and insert even more excitement.
The possibilities are endless, and it doesn’t have to be a huge announcement. But Easter is your chance to kick off something while attendance is high. Kick-off a new sermon series that makes people want to come back next week for the start of it. Launch new small groups that people have expressed interest in and tell them how to sign up that day.
You can share a new next step, resource, or report. Maybe, for example, your team has been working on a booklet about prayer and it’s ready and available in the lobby on Easter Sunday. Or your children’s ministry has only been open for two Sundays per month and you’re adding a third Sunday. For anything exciting that has been in the works and is ready to launch, Easter Sunday is a prime time to do it!
Define Your Goals
We can say that we want this year to be the best Easter ever, but without goals, how can we determine that? Define what “best Easter ever” means for your church. What are you praying for? What are you hoping to see happen? What are your goals?
Goals can be attendance-based (last year vs. this year), but they don’t all have to be. Identify your objectives for Easter and then decide which metrics to track and which goals to work toward.
Some of your goals will largely depend on what’s happening in your church on Easter. For example, if you’re launching new small groups, one of your goals might be to have 100 people sign up that day.
Recognize Easter as the special and exciting day that it is, but take the pressure off and set your and your team’s focus on Jesus. Decide to try the ideas that are the best fit for your church’s congregation and resources and choose someone on your team to own the execution. Everything we do on Easter Sunday is a step toward the goal of helping people connect with Jesus and His church. Do what you can to make Easter Sunday extraordinary, and trust God with the rest.