I think one of the mistakes that many churches make is treating Easter like it’s an ending, that it’s the culmination of everything.  We put a lot of energy into Lent, Holy Week, and advertise like crazy all the activities and worship services of Easter Weekend. Historically this is the highest attended worship season of the year. We expect, promote, celebrate, and prepare for that and we should.  The story of the resurrection is the central truth of the Christian faith.
But if we are not careful, when the last Easter service is done, the wind goes out of the sails, the cooperate breath of the church exhales, and many look for a break from church the next Sunday.  The lead pastors and leadership prepare for one of the lowest attended Sundays of the year to follow the highest. The church pauses, prepares for summer, and waits until the fall when we hope participation picks up again.  What’s wrong with this picture? 
Make Easter a beginning not an ending.
  • Make sure attenders know “what’s next for the church”.
  • Celebrate a compelling follow up message series, create one that appeals to long-term members and guests.
  • Respond to every attendee with an email, call, text, whatever tools you have, thanking them for joining you in Easter Worship and then inviting them to next weekend’s worship. If they are a guest what unique events or programs are aimed at them.
  • Make sure there are Next Discipleship steps for everyone.  Do not leave out guests or long-term attenders.
  • Have an event of some sort designed specifically for guests. It could just be a meet the pastor and pastors’ event, but something.
  • How can people respond to the Easter message in their own personal life? (Transformation)
  • What are the growth and discipleship steps to sign up for?
  • What is the exciting, compelling and concrete vision for the church?
  • How can people make connections and build new relationships?
  • What new things are about to happen? Its new things that reach new people?
  • Design the sermon and worship for everyone, especially guests, returnees, and those who have only attended for a few times or only online.  Make sure online worship has this same sense of anticipation for “What’s Next”.  Remember the church really began at the empty tomb.
  • Help people experience God. This experience is transforming and often shapes the next steps people take.
     
In Easter worship create an environment that marks the beginning of something very special, not the culmination of a holiday season that ends at 12:00 noon.
Here is an invitation --- last Wednesday was the 3rd in a series of seven webinars, “New Church for a New World”, a series that is an outgrowth of Forward to a New Spring.  The next webinar is April 7th, Wednesday, 11:30am - 1:00pm. The theme and title, ‘Building a Team and Strengthening Stewardship”.  (Hint, these practices are connected).
Our last webinar “Building a Spiritual Core” will be available online.   It was exciting to have 168 registrations.  You can register for the April 7th webinar HERE.  We have group learning as part of the webinar so registering ahead is important.  
Leaders don’t succeed by what they know, but what they are learning.  I learned long ago that in a seminar, webinar, reading a book, or any other learning experience; that if one idea popped up that we implemented these were the game changers of our ministry.  Look for that one idea and may God lead us to it. 

Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth