There are so many things that are spinning around us today – political issues, the Mueller report, sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) headlines, announcements of SBC leadership positions being filled, just to name a few. However, as I write this today, I want to remind you that something much more important than these items is what we should be focused on today. What is it?
April 21st is Easter Sunday, and we will gather in our 440 churches to worship a risen savior. Oh what a day that “should be.” I am confident that your church is making plans now and taking steps to make this a great day. What should be our objectives for that day? Worship Jesus? Gather the bride of Christ? Study God’s Word? Care for the body of Christ? Present to our community that our church is a warm, welcoming people who wants to get to know people and walk through life with them? I hope the answer is Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. We want to “do” all of these things.
We should also want to “be” the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to those around us and for those who may show up this one day of the year to “attend church.” Let them see Jesus in us. Let them experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in our people, in our worship and even to sense when they walk in our buildings that there is something different here. They sense God’s presence.
On a practical note, we can do some things that will help us make a good impression for those first time guests (remember a visitor is someone we are checking out to see if they belong, a guest is someone we have invited into our fellowship). Here are a few things I have seen and learned over the years to pay attention to:
- How does our building look? Is it clean? Do we have the preschool and children’s areas ready? Do we have a security system in place for our children?
- Are we already planning for the worship experience? What songs will we sing? What is the pastor going to preach? DO these two elements complement each other?
- Are we planning how to welcome people as they arrive? Will we have greeters in the parking lot, at each entrance, in each Sunday School class and in the worship area?
- Are we making sure that our signs communicate to people about where they should park? Where they should enter if they have children? Do the signs in the building tell people where things are?
- Does your web page information match what you are doing? Is the information up to date? Is your address listed clearly on the first page of your web page? Is it easy to find the schedule of events and worship opportunities? I had a hard time finding correct information for one of the churches we attended this past year – their worship time and address were difficult to find on their website. After finally finding it, we went to worship there at the listed times. Once we parked, we noticed that the sign out front listed different worship times than the website. And once we were inside, we learned that the worship time was actually different than what both the website and sign stated.
- What type of publicity are you doing in the community? Remember the most effective is still your people inviting people, but using an invite card, mailings, Facebook, email, flyers, posters, whatever you do, do it the best you can and be clear on the information about the basics – who, what, where, when and how.
- One item that many churches do not do well! Follow-up. Assuming that you have “guests” on Easter Sunday, what and how will you reach out to them? What is your plan and who is responsible to see that it is done? Let me encourage you to make some kind of contact on Sunday if possible, Monday at the latest. I am not talking about a 45-minute home visit, but a brief call, email, text, gift on their doorstep or a gift at the end of the service.
- Then follow-up on a plan of contacts over the next few weeks to determine if they are a person who is interested in your church. I attended one church where I received an email for a few weeks just asking about my interest in the church, and it gave me a way to reach back to them if I was interested. The main point? Have a plan and work the plan.
- Pray! Spend time each week up until Easter praying about what God might do in your church this Easter. I will be praying that this Easter might be the beginning of a great spiritual awakening in our churches. Pray for Easter Sunday, for volunteers to serve and pray for how your church will follow-up with those who attend.
There are many things to consider, and this is not an exhaustive list, but I hope there are some things here to think and pray about and actions that will help you make this Easter a great time to celebrate the Resurrected Christ. I pray that your church will experience a great day as a church family and that the Lord will bless you with new people. Celebrate Jesus, love one another and love the Lord God with all of your heart!