Embrace Easter Weekend For The New Challenge It Is
Creative Arts Lead at 12Stone Church
Four Core Principles Your Teams Need to be Reminded of Before the Big Day
Easter weekend this year is just different. When we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this year, the weekend will carry some important challenging differences, unlike in previous years. It is critical that we know what those challenges are so that we can set appropriate expectations for our teams, our members, and our guests.
The biggest challenge this Easter weekend (truthfully every weekend for the foreseeable future) is people need to re-experience the beauty of gathering together for live services.
Easter is the perfect weekend to lean into that. Focusing on family, community, worshiping together, encouraging each other, laughing together, and engaging with each other is a must.
Hebrews 10:24-25 resonates:
“24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Let’s face it, who doesn’t need the encouragement of others, and a life filled with more love and good deeds?
Right now, our culture desperately needs to be reminded of what it is missing in isolation, they are missing encouragement, and true community. Your community is living in a sort of PTSD from the last two years. The combined effects of COVID, isolation, constant political differences, rising inflation, and now war have greatly complicated what it means to gather together for weekend services. It is almost like we are re-teaching people how to be human again.
Gathering together for live events has really taken a hit. Just a quick look around the landscape of the country reveals that movies, concerts, and churches are still in a rebound phase. (Live sports certainly provide a ray of hope that things can return to a new normal.) With people feeling more freed up to engage in larger gatherings for the first time since 2019, we need to make the most of our Easter weekend services.
Easter weekend will likely be one of the largest percentage increases in attendance you have seen in two years, it’s time to remind your team of the opportunity and responsibility they carry to help your community re-experience the beauty of gathering together.
However, we all know that crowds at live events can be frustrating. Attending live services can be a bit of a hassle, but people will still do it. The question is: Are we as the church taking enough responsibility to do the thoughtful work required to make that large group gathering the best it can be?
I was recently talking with a friend who took his family to Disney World, and he talked about waiting two hours in line for a ride. But as he talked about his family’s experience, he said they had a great time. How does Disney take that kind of two-hour hassle and make it somehow enjoyable? Disney has what is referred to as Mickey’s Commandments. Here are a few and how they might apply to us.
- Know Your Audience
- - Culture outside the building.
- - Then ask: What do we believe the Holy Spirit wants them to know?
- Wear Guests Shoes
- - When they arrive at the building.
- - Encourage your front-line team to attend as a guest on a Sunday before Easter, then make wise adjustments.
- Tell One Story at a Time
- - We could translate this as know your Spiritual bullseye, not too difficult on Easter. ☺
- - Avoid the Spiritual Dump Truck of trying to make too many impactful points on such an important day.
- Avoid Overload
- - We could translate this as information overload.
- - People don’t need to know everything, but let them know the critical things.
- Organize Your Flow of Ideas
- - Finding the common thread.
- - Too many ideas are weak; weed out the weaker ideas.
- For Every Ounce of Treatment Provide a Ton of Fun.
- - In the hassles of large crowds find a way to make them smile.
- - A smile is a powerful thing.
Bottom line: Disney does a lot of thinking before anyone shows up at the park. We should do so as well.
Leading up to Easter, here are four core principles for your teams to work on:
1: Focus on Non-Downloadable Experiences
- This is way too easy to overlook but is critical in reminding people why meeting together can be so life-giving. We are simply happy people are pulling into a parking lot and not simply tuning in online from a couch. But, from the moment members and guests pull into your parking lot, until the time they pull out, we have an opportunity to provide thoughtful, non-downloadable experiences. Experiences that can bring a smile or encourage community. Here are a few examples to help your teams start thinking this way:
- Front line or Parking team – give them something to put a smile on people's face when they pull in, whether a few fun signs or just more colorful shirts, crazy Easter hats, anything to make that team know they are setting the tone as the first people your new people will see as they pull in.
- Front line Greeting team – There are a lot of options available here, bottom line, slow families down (just a bit) to connect, provide options:
- + Providing photo points - Backdrops are popular. (There are a bunch of examples online of great simple backdrop ideas.) You can line up a photographer or use the families’ phones. There are a lot of ways to do this, just make sure it can happen fairly quickly.
+ Game options – Easter games of any type, or maybe a family competition game like a putting green where the kids can try to beat their dad or mom for a small prize—anything to encourage families to slow down, smile, and have a little fun.
+ Food/refreshments – This works every time, before or after the service.
- And of course: Worship – This is certainly one of the best examples of a non-downloadable experience. Plan for songs that connect deeply in your church's DNA, and songs your people love to worship with. A day like Easter is not the best time to introduce something new.
- Bonus Non-Downloadable Thought: Some Non-Downloadable experiences can get awkward. If you do a “time of greeting” during your service—turning to a neighbor and shaking their hand is still awkward. That doesn’t happen on their couch at home. Try something different.
+ Maybe, give them a question like, “Turn and tell someone your favorite Easter food, or a favorite hobby.” Now, this might not seem very spiritual, but it is personal, encourages a more personal interaction, and is a bit less awkward.
2: Remember to Wear Your Guest's Shoes, especially through the eyes of families with kids.
- Think of the whole day through the eyes of the member’s first time back or the first-time visitor crowd. It is time for some fresh thinking about how we can make the whole day centered around encouraging authentic connections with new people. Nothing new here, but here are some reminders (FYI: these areas are often the things that make coming to live gatherings a hassle. Remember, it’s just way too easy for people to stay home on a Sunday. Let’s not give them any more reasons to.):
+ Make sure signage makes sense to your guests, provide volunteers to help get families where they need to go.
+ Get kids check-in right, make it fast but personal.
+ The kids’ experience better be engaging and fun. Remember, if kids love it, you have just made that family's decision about coming back that much easier. I’m no kids’ ministry expert - however, Jessica Bealer is! - but Easter is a great time for kids to learn the Easter story and have some fun celebrating. The question is: What is your team's plan?
3: Avoid Overload in Your Service
- Information Overload: This one is huge; we often just try to communicate too much. Easter is a great day to keep it centered on Jesus and the hope He provides. Select a couple of things that will matter to new and returning guests and focus on that. Focus on things that will spur one another on to love and good deeds. Things like:
+ What is God doing through our congregation that would be encouraging for someone new to hear about? This also helps people catch the vision and mission of your church and makes offering moments make sense and feel less awkward.
+ What is a new family's best next step for connecting deeper?
+ Pick one upcoming event and highlight that, tied to your church's vision.
+ Resources available for families.
Bonus Point Overload Thought: Avoid Audio Overload
- + So many of our people have been attending online experiencing worship through their computer speakers or soundbar, that live service volumes can be a bit of a jolt. Always start your mix a couple of DB down, then take it up to full volume.
4: Tell One Story at a Time
At Easter, this seems to be a bit of a no-brainer, but I’ve heard many an Easter sermon get way too complicated. So, throw the fastball.
- Bonus Points Thought: Tell the old story new. Here’s what I mean by that…
- + The Church isn’t just about telling stories of what God did, it is about telling stories about what He is doing now.
- + Make sure you tell a story of a person or family that has experienced the life-giving message of Jesus.
This Easter may we embrace the challenge, and remind people of the beauty of meeting together!
Making services and teams work well together can be exceptionally complicated. I have been responsible for making this happen for decades and love helping leaders and teams think and build.
If you would like to set up a free one-hour consultation with me anytime, just reach out. I’d love to help.
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Weekend Experience Ministry Strategist Dave Ronne