Two things that Jesus gave the church to prioritize and that people are desperate for are belonging and purpose, and these should be central to any church’s priorities. Knowing that people really care about these things and the church is a place where these can be realized, how can you build around Easter in a way that facilitates these things?
Here are four ideas for ways to help people find belonging and purpose:
1. Visibility How often do you go on a first date with somebody, then propose on the spot? You don’t … that’s creepy, but it would probably make for great TV. You get to know the person … what they’re about, what matters to them, what you have in common, then you commit. Singles, that was a freebie.
In the same way, we can’t expect people who are not connected to your church already would have any inclination to attend an Easter service, let alone take a next step without a positive perception of the church coming in.
So, how are you positively engaging with your community outside of the Easter season?
Here are some ideas for meaningful ways to engage with your community leading up to Easter:
Mobilize and resource your congregation to serve in the community. This could be sponsoring smaller groups or an all-church, large-scale effort.
Host an Easter egg hunt for the community.
Provide free childcare on a Friday night to give parents a date night.
Do an open-to-the-public March Madness bracket challenge with prizes.
2. Generosity People like to feel like they are part of something that makes a difference in the world. What if on Easter Sunday 100%of giving went to a cause or multiple causes to serve your community?
Church leadership could pick 1-3 organizations that are doing great work (maybe even consider one or two that are not even faith based). Imagine the impact this could have on other organizations throughout your community and how memorable and meaningful it could be for visitors at your church!
3. Add Value on Easter How can you add value to people’s lives on Easter? Obviously, the greatest value you can add is introducing people to Jesus, and also showing that you care in simple, meaningful and tangible ways will go a long way to helping people engage with your church.
One idea (and this isn’t a new idea by any means) is to set up a nice backdrop and hire a professional photographer (or multiple depending on the size of your church) to take family (or individual) photos. Assign somebody to work with the photographer to record names and email addresses to be able to provide a follow up with their high-res photos.
Doing this serves these individuals and families and also provides you an opportunity to have a personal follow up with an invitation to a next step … cue the last idea.
4. Next Steps Hopefully, this is already on your radar, but an absolute top priority for Easter planning has to be follow up and next steps. If you could ask every person to take one next step, what would it be?
Key to providing great next steps is knowing your audience. Who are you trying to engage with as a follow up to Easter? It’s a great opportunity to put a heavy focus on first-time visitors and people who aren’t connected to spiritual community.
Using that audience as the focus, here are a couple ideas for next steps:
Launch an Alpha group. This would be communicated clearly from stage and in any follow-up communications. This is an incredible resource for skeptics and new believers. This takes some setup and leader recruitment, so start this process soon!
Launch a 4-week affinity group. Reality is that you only have a few weeks following Easter before summer hits and people disappear. Consider launching groups that are simply interest groups to help people connect with one another. Again, position some of your great leaders to facilitate these to foster relationships and belonging.
Plan a service project and invite the community to be part of it with you! This can be a great follow up from Easter for people who may not want to go to church but do want to make a difference. Keep in mind ways that all generations can participate as well.
The bottom line is, people care about belonging and purpose, and if churches strategically think through how to help people find these they’ll see increased retention and, ultimately, transformation as people take steps toward Jesus.