Planning for your Easter service can be overwhelming. Considering that more than 50% of Americans will be attending church on Easter Sunday, chances are you’re preparing for the most visitors your church will see all year. After all, there are sermons to write, passion plays to direct, egg hunts to plan and the list goes on. But where is reaching the unchurched located on your to-do list this year?
Although 73% of Americans identify as Christian, for many, Easter is one of the few times they’ll ever enter a church. This is because a much smaller number of Americans regularly practice their faith. According to a recent study, only 31% of U.S. adults attend church at least once a month. To simplify things a bit, that means 7 out of 10 Americans claim to be Christian. However, only 3 out of 10 go to church as a consistent part of their faith lives. That’s quite a drop-off if you think about it.
So, where is the disconnect? Why do so many people visit church during Easter and then walk out uninspired and unaffected after hearing the most powerful, life-changing message of all time?
Sometimes the answer is as simple as “they just weren’t ready to receive the message.” However, other times the reason people don’t relate is because we stop short of explaining just how personal a relationship with Christ is. Most of your visitors this Easter are probably at least somewhat familiar with the fundamentals of the holiday. However, they may not understand the complete meaning behind it and how it relates to them personally. Jesus was born, crucified, and rose again 3 days later to bring the salvation to the world. That is a BIG message. And, for a lot of people, it’s just too big to fully comprehend.
When we lump people together using words such as “everyone” and “all,” the importance of a message becomes diluted. Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. He knows us not only by name but also by what is on our minds and in our hearts. When we tell others about the meaning of Easter, the message should be more personal than a historical recap. Today’s younger generations in particular desire an honest, personal delivery in order to connect with a message. Try adding a personal component to your message. Explain how a relationship with Christ can truly change each of their lives. This will emphasize the personal relationship that awaits them, and you will have a better chance of reaching their hearts.
Another way to reach the unchurched is to prepare your members to have heart-to-heart conversations with the visitors they bring. For many, talking to the church staff at Easter seems a little scary. Being in new situations with people we’ve never met makes us all feel a little anxious. What would you do if you rarely went to church and had questions about the Resurrection? Would you walk up to the pastor after the service or would you wait until the car ride home and ask the person who invited you?
Before Easter, consider delivering a message either during service or send out a separate email to members that is focused on helping them answer questions about Christianity that others may have. Though many of your congregants may have spent most of their lives ardently believing in the fundamental principles of Christianity, it might be difficult for them to explain their faith to others. You can help prepare your members for such conversations by printing out simple cards or having online resources that have Bible-based answers and references for questions that others frequently have about Easter and Christianity.
Remember that you will likely have more people sitting in the pews on Easter Sunday than any other time during the year and that many of these people are searching to grow their faith. That makes it the perfect time to focus on God’s unconditional love for each of his children and the joy that comes from having a close personal relationship with him. The audience is there. You just have to connect with them and welcome them into the flock.
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