Planning for Easter

January 30, 2019

Fear of failure? Avoid these 12 common mistakes
when planning your Easter services
Hint: It is not too soon to get started
by Rev. Mike Ramsdell*

1. Failure is not training ushers, greeters and welcome people to be ready for guests and crowds on Easter. Put your welcome people outside and inside, especially in the parking lot and at entry points. A significant way to raise the level of those who will be greeting people is to consecrate them ahead of time in a worship service and give them name tags.

2. Failure is not having the church join you in praying for the Easter mission of reaching new people. In the services leading up to Easter, add this type of prayer to worship involving everyone in reaching new people.

3. Failure is not sprucing up the area, enlivening the area or modernizing the church campus, parking lot and entryways, etc. Look at the church campus from the eyes of guests of all ages, ethnic groups, economic groups, and churched and unchurched people.

4. Failure is not making the bulletin guest-friendly, welcoming, east to navigate and professional. Most bulletins are aimed at our members and the usual church activities. Often there is an order of worship that is confusing and full of insider information. How might an unchurched person connect in the worship experience and church activities? Write a specific welcome for the guests.

5. Failure is not preparing a sermon that celebrates Easter and the resurrection, transforms people and speaks to guests as well as members. Easter is about The Good News. People want to celebrate Easter, but remember they come for many reasons. A short, clear, compelling message is critical.

6.  Failure is in ignoring children by not addressing their presence somehow. Provide for them, and help their parents feel comfortable and confident that their children are very welcome. How will a guest understand an opportunity for their children? The nursery and children’s areas must be clean, secure, inviting and – if possible – fantabulous. They won’t come back if they aren’t.

7. Failure is not planning for and offering next steps in discipleship for guests and existing members where they can respond to the experience of Easter. Where is the entry point for a guest to go deeper or get involved more, and where is the next step for the long-term attender?

8. Failure is not marketing Easter at your church to the community by using social media and providing tools for your members to invite their neighbors and friends to Easter worship. Communicate it as a community Easter service where everyone is invited and will feel welcome. Make the community the center of the Easter design.

9. Failure is not having adequate signage. Put welcome and directional signs in the parking lot, entry points, hallways and all transitional areas. People should know you have prepared for them and want them, that Easter and its resurrection message are a big deal and that you love them.

10. Failure is not providing online worship; if you don’t have another platform, try Facebook Live. Invite the community and members who can’t attend in person to join you; be sure to do so well ahead of time. In the service, recognize those worshiping with you online and encourage people to respond by registering or in the comment section that they are worshiping with you. Have a person monitoring the live feed so they can respond in real time to each attendee.

11. Failure is not offering easy ways for everyone, especially guests, to register their attendance. A greater failure is neglecting to respond to those who do register with a non-threatening follow-up which includes an appreciation for their attending and an invitation to return.

12. Failure is not preparing a message series that immediately follows Easter that appeals to the needs and concerns of the unchurched and guests. Communicate that next step in an appealing way on Easter in the bulletin, banners, signage, video, pulpit invitation or even a piece of the sermon itself.

*Mike is Executive Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth.