The style of worship in my church’s Sunday morning services would be best described as blended. Our worship team presents new songs regularly and fills our worship space with heavy drumbeats, twenty-first century lyrics, and laser lights (OK, there are no lasers…ever).
Our worship team also leads us in traditional hymns of the faith, sometimes set to newer music and sometimes in their time-tested format, and even some Southern Gospel music. One would be hard-pressed to classify our worship services in one particular style, and yet until a few years ago our Easter services always looked like scene direct out of the 1950’s.
I’m not suggesting that our Easter services were bad or that our musicians and choir did a poor job, only that on Easter our normally engaging and modern worship service was traded for a choir cantata and a short sermonette. After some prayer and intentional conversations, we made the decision to break with tradition and make our Easter services more missional. We recognize that Easter will probably be the largest worship attendance of the entire year and we want to do all that we can to make sure that the entire service is evangelistic and missional. As a result, these are the changes that we have made to give us the best chance to reach our Easter crowd with the gospel.
- Easter Cantata. I have no attachment to Easter cantatas, but I do not dislike them either. Many people in our church, however, have a strong attachment to Easter cantatas. They are moved by the message that is communicated through music and drama. We now schedule our Easter cantata for Palm Sunday so that we can focus on the lost people within our community on Easter Sunday. If your Easter cantata does not normally engage the lost people of your community, consider scheduling it for a time other than Easter Sunday.
- Intentional service planning. Our Easter service is shorter than many of our regular services. We know that many unchurched people will worship with us, but they will also have other things on their mind. They are looking forward to lunch and time with family. Our goal is to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and present the gospel. We eliminate as much of other things as possible (unnecessary announcements, ministry emphasis, etc…).
- Online resources. We created a special link on our website called Easter Resources to which we point people in our worship service on Easter. If people leave with questions, we want to give them every opportunity to find answers and experience the gospel of Jesus.
- Focus on the gospel. We preach on Easter (and every other Sunday), but we make special effort to use less “church language” and to give a clear presentation of the gospel.
- Plan for next week. You have a large group of unchurched people and you want them to come back next week, so give them a reason. The Sunday after Easter is a great time to start a new sermon series or invite people to a Next Steps class.
- Honor your guests. This should be a part of your regular church culture, but Easter Sunday when you can anticipate a large crowd of visitors, make sure you have trained your people to honor guests well. Consider a small gift for first-time visitors and make sure you welcome them without making them uncomfortable (Guests should never be singled out by making them stand or letting them sit while others stand or offering them a name badge).
- Plan for the children. Nothing turns young families off faster than for their experience with their children to be bad. You need extra childrens ministry and nursery workers. Do not let this catch you by surprise, Easter happens every year and every year you have extra people. Plan for it.
There are areas where we could improve as a church, but these are a few of the ways we have learned to plan and prepare for Easter Sunday.
How are you preparing for Easter?