the shape of leadership

Is Easter Sunday the Super Bowl of Church?

Planning for a big event versus treating it like every other service

Influence Magazine on February 1, 2019

How do you see the Easter Sunday service? Perhaps it’s the highlight of your church calendar, something you plan all year with great anticipation. Or maybe you treat it no differently than the other 51 weekends a year.

We all know that Easter is special to Christians and non-Christians alike. Although churches celebrate the risen King every Sunday, Easter is the one day set aside just for that purpose. And it’s usually the most highly attended Sunday of the year.

Does that mean pastors should focus extra resources and attention on Easter? Or is it better stewardship to put every Sunday on level footing?

This issue offers two perspectives on Easter services — one that encourages an all-in approach and one that suggests treating Easter the same as any other day. Is one perspective right and the other wrong? In this case, both have some good points to make.

Ultimately, which avenue you take comes down to two issues. First, consider the values of your church and ministry. What you believe is important will drive your vision, and that includes how you approach holidays. Second, think about your church’s culture. What do your members want, and how will your community respond? With those things in mind, draw your own conclusions.

Give It Your All

In sports, the Super Bowl is the goal at the end of the NFL season, what every team plays for. In the Church, we can view the Easter service the same way. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, but it’s also a time we celebrate what Jesus has already been doing.

Consider that most of our churches will see more unsaved people walk through the doors on Easter than any other week. And the salvation of lost people is what we are all about. Why wouldn’t we go all in with our efforts and all out to reach them? When we think of Easter as the Super Bowl of Sundays, we’ll come at it with high expectation, great preparation and increased invitation.

As a leader, you need a winning expectation. Anticipate that God is going to do something great on Easter. Believe that when you lift up Jesus, He will draw people to salvation. Begin with that in mind, and you’ll see just how huge Easter Sunday can be.

With a healthy expectation comes necessary preparation. If you expect great things, you will prepare for them too. Your team should be at their best on Easter. From the parking lot to the stage, everything should provide an atmosphere where the Spirit moves.

Make sure you are ready to welcome all those first-time guests well. Begin with a push for volunteers. Have extra people on hand to handle any overflow. Speaking of crowds, you may need to add a service or provide additional worship spaces. Next, go from outside in, cleaning up and clearing clutter from the parking lot to the lobby, from the bathrooms to the main room. Let those first-time visitors know you’re ready for them.

Although churches celebrate the risen King every Sunday, Easter is the one day set aside just for that purpose.

Invitation is where these all come together. If you’re expectant and prepared, make a final push for the most visitors you’ve ever had. Use mailers or door hangers, advertisements or billboards — it doesn’t matter, as long as you get the word out. Give your people easy ways to invite their unsaved friends and family. Organize key volunteers to go door to door in your community.

Many will enter the kingdom of God this Easter, and your church will play a role in that. Their lives will change forever. I can’t think of anything bigger than that.

Treat It No Differently

Easter Sunday is a big day, but it’s still just one day of the year. We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection each week. And any Sunday is an opportunity for people to know Him as their Lord and Savior. You’ll have more guests and attenders on Easter, but that doesn’t mean you should treat this day any differently.

What if you thought of every Sunday like you do Easter? What if you gave each weekend the same level of focus and attention? You might find out that adding excellence on a consistent basis will make your church stronger.

Easter is a good time to put your best foot forward. But changing your style, formula or planning to accommodate visitors is a no-win situation. If you go over the top with elaborate musical numbers or exciting creative elements on Easter, your guests will get a distorted picture of your church. Showing up the next week, they’ll be sorely disappointed because they’re expecting the same over-the-top experience.

You also run the risk of alienating your current audience. They have come to appreciate your church for what it is, not what you think it should be. Giving them more of the same will only increase their devotion to church.

Leverage that devotion to create a place where people know they are welcome any Sunday. Instead of focusing so many resources on one day, motivate a continual sense of excellence throughout the year.

When you see every Sunday as equally important, you will give each service the excellence it deserves. Does your worship team have extra practice for Easter? You should expect them to be prepared and ready every week. Do you push for more volunteers at Easter? Members should feel an obligation to serve each Sunday.

Treating Easter as special may actually lead your church to believe other weeks aren’t as important. Members may lower their standards of service or dampen their expectations that God will move.

Sure, you’ll probably have the highest attended weekend of your year on Easter. That’s all the more reason to treat it like any other Sunday. Show your guests and regular attenders exactly who you are. And use every opportunity, no matter what space it occupies on the calendar, to point people to Jesus. When excellence is a continual standard, life change is a weekly expectation.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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