Spring is upon us, and flowers are beginning to bloom; winter weather is fading, which means Easter is right around the corner. While Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus throughout the year, Easter Sunday is the one time of the year when our primary focus is the resurrection. The NFL has its Super Bowl, but many have remarked that Easter is the local church’s Super Bowl. (Thankfully we don’t have the cheesy commercial breaks or multi-million dollar halftime shows!)
However, we do plan and prepare for new visitors, sing new songs and even have the kid’s choir perform. Easter is an excellent opportunity to reach the lost and make much of Jesus, regardless of your worship style, church size or budget.
Here are four ways to make the most of your Easter service.
1. Keep it simple and preach Jesus
Several years ago, I struggled with preaching anxiety while preparing for Easter. It wasn’t the fear of standing in front of the congregation or even the uneasiness of being unprepared. No, this anxiety stemmed from the feeling that this one message had to be the year’s most innovative and creative. While sermon illustrations and other creative means preachers use to convey a message can be helpful to a congregation, the resurrection, the Good News of Jesus Christ, doesn’t need additives to make it more powerful or attractive. If you are the main preacher on Easter Sunday, practice 1 Peter 5:7, which says to cast all your cares on the Lord because he cares for you. We can become anxious when we make too much of our gifts and abilities but make little of the Lord. The Scripture tells us we should not be ashamed of the gospel. So then the aim is to preach the message that saves the souls of men. We cannot save anyone, no matter how great we believe we communicate. So, rest in the truth that it is Jesus who saves.
The apostle Paul, concerning preaching, said, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:2-5). Are you wondering what you should preach? Well, preach a message full of Christ and the power of the Spirit. Keep it simple, be clear on the gospel and make much of the risen savior.
2. Be intentional in your planning
When I invite guests to my home, I make sure they feel welcome. My wife and I block time in the calendar, ensure the house is neat, put a meal in the oven and set cookies on the table. When guests walk through the door, they feel a sense of welcome and feel they belong in our home. Making an intentional plan for Easter involves planning the service with intentional elements that focus on Christ and resurrection. For example, this year several of our students will read selected Scripture passages focusing on new life in Jesus Christ. Our kid’s choir will sing a song about the victory of the resurrection. We planned the sermon series for the month to land on a specific passage that speaks to the hope found in Christ alone. Knowing that Easter comes once a year – and those who come through the doors may only come once a year – we want to ensure they hear about Jesus in every part of the service.
Consider adding additional Scripture readings during the service, possibly between songs. If a member has a powerful testimony of life change, allow them to share live or via video as part of the service. As you choose songs, are they simple and easy for people to sing? Think of your favorite worship band, and chances are you do not have them on stage every week.
If your church is anything like mine, you have faithful volunteers playing and singing their hearts out to the Lord. So plan songs the worship team and congregation know and will sing loudly. I suggest not breaking out the amazing song you heard on Christian radio the other day that requires professional musicians and sound engineers. Instead, sing the songs that have affected your church, songs the congregation knows and sings from the heart unto the Lord. It does not make your church boring or irrelevant to sing songs the church knows and loves on Easter Sunday.
The goal is not perfection but intentionality. If we aim to see Jesus glorified, let our planning and intentionality reflect this desire.
3. Give clear next steps and follow up
Our church plant’s first Easter service had an amazing zero guests. In our cultural context, people often attend church with their grandparents or parents for Easter. However, the following year, we did have several new guests. Your experience this Easter may differ from our first year, so ensure you have clear next steps for people to follow. For example, give people their next step after proclaiming a clear gospel message. Who should they talk to about growing in their faith, baptism or further discipleship? Let’s say the Lord sends you an influx of new guests on Easter Sunday; how will you steward those He sends to your church? So, if you don’t have it already planned, write out the next steps for those visiting for Easter.
In our church, one ministry leader generally closes the service. We strive not to use insider language but keep the next steps clear, concise and easy to follow. The gospel should be preached clearly and people need to know what to do next.
4. Be thankful and prayerful
If I am honest, sometimes, in all the planning, I can forget to bathe our efforts in prayer. John Wesley said, “Prayer is where the action is.” In the days and weeks leading up to Easter, pray and seek the Lord. In fact, on Easter Sunday, why not put together a special team to pray before the service for those the Lord will send to worship? Easter Sunday is coming. So, pray, prepare and trust the Lord to touch hearts as only He can.
Whether you have record attendance or the regular Sunday crowd, He has risen, so make much of His name!
Published March 22, 2023