The holidays are a time that we can sometime swing to extremes. As leaders in the church, we are not immune to the temptations. In fact, they seem to become heightened as we plan for the special services of the year. Questions are asked about maximizing impact and involving new people into the life of the church. Other questions sneak in such as how we make the music better, the service more memorable, and the like. It is all an exercise in understanding the “why” behind the “what.”
The “why” must be to introduce the greatness of Christ and the truth of His gospel to people’s lives. Here are ten ideas about how to not misstep on planning for Easter Sunday.
- Clearly make the whole service about Jesus. It is not about the children’s choir, worship band, cool sermon graphics, or any other such thing. Make sure everybody and everything points to Jesus.
- Don’t try to be so clever that people miss the message. At a holiday service, it is tempting to change how you preach for the nebulous goal of “connecting with new people.” Preacher, be yourself and teach like a normal human being.
- Do not brag about everything your church is doing in an attempt to win people into regular attendance. If you try to announce/cover/boast about the whole church calendar, you’ll just overwhelm and distract.
- Never, ever berate the listener. Tell them why Jesus is so worthy, why the kingdom is so wonderful, and why the life of faith is one of hope. Help them face the facts that the world is hard and sin is killing them. But don’t beat up people who are already beaten up.
- Offer hope. Life is hard. The faithful members of your church need to be reminded of the hope we have. The first-time guests need to be introduced to the fact that hope exists.
- Start preparing immediately for Easter Sunday. Pastors and worship leaders should already be discussing what will be the same and what will be different on Easter. Prepare your volunteers for any changes.
- Recruit extra volunteers now for the children’s and preschool ministries. You do not want to be the church that has to announce: “We don’t have enough workers in the Preschool classes today. Who will go help us out?” It signals to guests that you really don’t care about their kids and have low standards about who is keeping them.
- Make plans for announcing a new Bible study group (or groups). Help people understand the value of small groups for their spiritual growth.
- Decide how you will encourage people to make a decision in response to the gospel. However your church chooses to do it, make sure it is clear to the listener, easy to navigate, and any volunteers necessary are prepared for their ministry.
- Pray expectantly. In fact, you can probably discard the first nine items on this list if you will engage most aggressively in this one thing. In his book Preacher and Prayer, E.M. Bounds wrote:
What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men who the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow though methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.