How To Keep Easter Guests Coming Back All Year
When unchurched people and guests walk through your door on Easter Sunday, will your church be ready? As pastors and church leaders, one could hope to hear a confident and resounding “yes!” to this question. But in reality, Easter takes a lot of careful planning and execution. Just like Christmas, Easter Sunday is a time that many people feel the pull put on their Sunday best and go back to church.
Easter Sunday has a certain buzz about it that you don’t see in an everyday service. This may be attributed to a fuller service, but people also arrive more expectant. Where Christmas has become mostly about presents and stress, Easter is still a fairly untainted holiday. People who identify as Christians or regular churchgoers realize it’s about the death and resurrection of Jesus (and an excuse to maybe get away with eating a little more chocolate than usual, too). When a first-time visitor or infrequent churchgoer show up to church, they shouldn’t feel singled out on your church campus. They should feel like they’re at home.
The mixing of visitors and regular attendees of your church can create a slightly polarized dynamic on Easter morning. Your regulars are creating one energy—confidence. While your visitors are unsure—because they’ve either never set foot in your building or haven’t been there in a year. It’s important you prepare for this dynamic in your services. Refreshing your volunteers on all their training and make sure they’re ready for people who have no idea what to do at church is a good start, but you can also do more.
We all know that some of your Easter visitors attend church only a few times a year and may be coming to church with no thoughts of returning the following week. This is the exact reason that it is so important we make a meaningful connection with our visitors every week and especially on Easter.
Here are a few ways to prepare, pray, connect and follow up with your guests this Easter.
Approach Easter with the guests perspective in mind. What would make them feel comfortable? How can we add value to them? What would they enjoy doing with us? Your plans don’t have to be perfect, but for Easter, try to think through all the obstacles that could discourage a visitor from returning and all the actions that could increase this likelihood. For example, we know that a church’s parking lot will probably be full, so two weeks in advance start asking regular attendees to free up spaces by parking in the business park or other parking areas. As Andy Stanley says, “Your sermon begins in the parking lot.” Guests will need directions on where to go once they arrive, so consider adding extra greeters in the parking lot, at the front door or in the lobby. Visitor plans may also include holding multiple services or configuring the worship area in a new way to maximize space. To keep the service interactive, incorporate some type of multimedia into the service—since “the medium is the message,” keep that medium as relevant and familiar as possible.
Connection is the key to change the mentality of only attending church on Easter or Christmas. A connection can be created digitally or in person and it’s important to engage in both. You can digitally create connection by staying up on your social media channels by commenting on Facebook check-ins, Twitter mentions or having an Easter “selfie” campaign on Instagram. Try also going digital with your connection card or enable people to give on their phone if they feel compelled to do so. Connections can be made as someone parks when they arrive and as they pull out to exit. Have designated greeters in key places around campus to shake hands, give directions and smile. Offer a free gift with a note from your pastor or free coffee in a cup with your logo in the lobby. This will make a guest feel like they are part of your team.
3. Follow Up & Return
Now that Easter Sunday is over, follow-up is the most important thing you can do on Monday. Email or call each guest to thank them for attending and provide more connecting points for them to get involved—direct them to the website where they can find areas to serve or find a small group. Launching a new series on Easter is a creative way to see people return and follow up with them the next week. Invite them to come back for the rest of the series on a relevant topic and they just might do just that.
There is really no way to know if every guest will return to your church in the weeks following Easter Sunday. Enticing them to return is one of our greatest opportunities as well as one of our greatest challenges. Good plans, fervent prayer, relational connections and intentional follow-up are some of the best tools to use on Easter Sunday to see guests again the rest of the year.