I love Easter and all that it means to believers around the world. In the northern hemisphere Easter is the time when winter with all of its cold and darkness is awakened with color and life.
In the street leading into our cul-de-sac the Bradford Pear Trees have been aglow in pink and white. Daffodils are everywhere and tulips are beginning to appear like bouquets of red, yellow, pink, and orange; and new green grass is beginning to crowd out the dead brown grass of a dormant season.
As trees, like unclothed skeletons, are beginning to put on their garbs of greenery, people are ending their hibernation, getting reacquainted with their neighbors, and gearing up to relish in the new spring weather.
Although I am thrilled with the beauty of the new life that spring brings, I am even more awestruck, amazed, and humbled at the atoning death and the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. I rejoice that I don’t serve a dead God, but One who has defeated sin, hell, and the grave.
When Jesus rose from the dead, the burial ground became a shouting ground, God put the exclamation point of authenticity on the ministry of Jesus, Satan knew his doom was sealed, and heaven had a holiday.
I wish we could have an Easter celebration every Sunday; and I think it is possible. Here are some suggestions on how to do it:
Make a bigger deal of Easter
Trevin Wax asks, “Why does Christmas get a season, but Easter only a day?” It is a good question. We would do well to make a bigger deal out of Easter. Let it become a prolonged celebration.
The Catholics observe Lent, which is described for them as a time to “open the doors of our hearts a little wider and understand our Lord a little deeper, so that when Good Friday and eventually Easter comes, it is not just another day at church, but an opportunity to receive the overflowing of graces God has to offer.”
I am not suggesting that we begin to observe Lent, but Easter is such a celebratory time that we would do well to capture the spirit of Easter in all of our services year-round and begin to pray to that end.
Keep Easter from being a “one-morning-stand by capitalizing on the momentum of the day and introduce an exciting sermon series for the Sundays following Easter. Make the announcement about the upcoming Sundays exciting and compelling.
With Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day on the near horizon, you may do well to plan a series on the family that would have an appeal to those visiting the church on Easter Sunday. Also plan something for children and youth in the succeeding Sundays that would make them want to return. Give them a handout highlighting the positive aspects of the upcoming Sundays that they can show their parents.
Give Easter your best
Plan the Sunday services like every Sunday is Easter. Scott Beha, pastor of Southridge Church in South Charleston, WV, stated, “Easter is my favorite Sunday of the year, because for one Sunday a year I see a level of excellence and sacrifice in every aspect of the church that unfortunately is not present on most other weeks.”
Most churches plan months in advance for the Easter worship services. While your church may not be able to spend three or four months in preparation for each service, you can very likely increase the level of excellence and planning that goes into each service. God deserves our best and every Sunday is a time to celebrate the resurrection.
Show the joy
Church folks are more likely to invite neighbors, friends, colleagues, and classmates to church on Easter Sunday. If we were as zealous in inviting people to church each week, I expect we would see our churches begin to grow and flourish.
Furthermore, if church members knew that great effort was being expended in preparing worship services marked by excellence they would undoubtedly be more enthusiastic about inviting others to come. When people are excited about their church’s worship experiences their excitement will be transmitted to others. Make sure your worship services are characterized by Easter joy!
Give visitors preference
Guests are treated with more hospitality in most churches on Easter Sunday. When I was pastor we had a welcome center where we offered coffee, juices, and pastries to those who visited with us.
We also asked our members to park in what we called “preferred parking” areas. Theses parking spaces were not near the church, but in remote parking areas and we called these spaces “preferred parking” for those who preferred others above themselves. Our guests received the places near the church worship center.
Additionally, we asked regular attenders to sit near the front of the church to leave seating in the back of the church for guests who were not a comfortable sitting toward the front.
We also had a gift bag or a coffee cup for guests. All they had to do was fill out the perforated tab in the bulletin, take it to the welcome desk after the service and get their gift.
Know your church
On Easter Sunday make sure that your members and guests are informed about the mission of the church – that the church is an agent of transformation locally and globally. If people know that your church is making a difference, that your fellowship is offering hope in caverns of despair and desolation, they will want to return.
People want to be a part of something that is making a difference. If your church is sitting on its laurels and content to sip coffee and read the minutes of the last meeting no one will want to be a part of that, but if you are aggressively attempting to win the lost, engage in missions, and change our corrupting culture, you will find that people are drawn to that kind of church.
Make it memorable
Have greeters and ushers who are prepared to go the second mile to make people feel welcome. The people on the hospitality team do not need to tell people how to get to restrooms or Sunday School classrooms, but they need to take them to the places they want to go. Make the visit of those who come on Easter Sunday memorable and do it over again the next Sunday and for all succeeding Sundays.
The church should be the most welcoming, hospitable place in your community. It should be a place where love is on display, a place where kindness rules, and a place where everybody is somebody.
Take it Sunday by Sunday
You could have Easter every Sunday if people were saved Sunday by Sunday; and Easter should spur us on to becoming more evangelistic in our worship. After all, no one can be saved without acknowledging the resurrection. Paul wrote, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
If we celebrated Easter every Sunday perhaps God would fuel our faith and we would come to church every Sunday with the full expectation that God was going to redeem some soul in need of the Savior.
Why don’t we work at having Easter every Sunday?