Easter Strategery

peeps

If church is all about reaching numbers than this is Super Bowl Week for church.

If you work in a church, holy week is kind of hell week. Church staff can’t wait for Monday. (Speaking as a former church staffer!) Weeks of planning and putting together a marketing plan, an event plan, a parking plan, and a planning session to make sure all of the plans are lined up.

Here’s the dirty secret: Easter strategery doesn’t lead to long term benefits to 99% of churches.

– While attendance is high on Easter morning, engagement is at an all-time low.

– While production is high on Easter morning, these are largely the same people who saw the Easter show last year and weren’t effectively changed.

– While tensions are high on Easter morning, people who are coming aren’t coming to find a church… they are there to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.

I’m not sure how Easter became the Christian Super Bowl, but I do know a better plan.

– Make the Easter service and the events leading up to it about Jesus.

– Instead of the whole thing leading up to a Gospel presentation (Built on the false assumption that visitors aren’t believers in the resurrection… I mean, why would they be there?) why not make the service a kick-off in how you can get involved in living out the message of Jesus in your community? (Romeo nailed this last year IMO) I’m not saying we should share the Gospel, but I’m thinking we should all remember that the Gospel is all these Christmas and Easter folks hear at church. Maybe that’s why they think your church is irrelevant?

– Instead of hosting an experience people won’t see for the next 12 months, why not invest that energy in meeting the practical needs of the people who come? A gift card for groceries says “I love you” way more than hiring a band.A warm handshake and an open heart is way more valuable then an Easter play.

– Instead of marketing hype, why not invest in relationship hype?

– Instead of stressing out the staff, why not send a message to the community that the church is healthy by “forcing” the staff to work less and experience Holy Week?

– Perhaps it is time most churches took an old school approach to Easter morning, let the visitors come. Invite them back. But don’t bend over backwards for people who are only committed to coming Easter and Christmas. While it is an “opportunity” I think it’s more a distraction from the people who really want to grow in Jesus than an opportunity to reach those who have already decided to be nominal.

Side note to those who don’t get what I’m talking about: Imagine the pageantry that you’ll experience at your church this weekend. Now, multiply that by every church and your community. Then envision that across the country… what you’ll see is an “Easter industry” that is as weird as the the Easter aisle at Target. It just doesn’t fit, but we accept it!

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

15 comments

  1. Why does it have to be a special service? Make it real. If you’re looking to impress visitors, then show them what a real service is like. Don’t fluff it. They would rather see what a “normal” service is like over being “sold” the church during a special one.

    Side note: Churches should focus on Jesus, especially his resurrection, in every service. It’s the reason where free from sin, is it not?

  2. @russell- great blog post. Obviously, I agree!

    @dewaine- yup, I’m with ya.

    @Chris- not sure what you mean. Can you elaborate? I’m of the opinion that people who already know and have accepted the Gospel know it because they have accepted it. They need to be taught how to and implored to live it.

  3. Adam,

    I apologize if my question seems challenging to you. Please believe me when I say that I am NOT trying bait you into a debate on this topic.

    I’ve come to believe that the Bible teaches us to preach to the gospel to believers and unbelievers. Let me give you two passages to support this idea.

    Paul writing to the Church in Corinth said, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2)

    And in his letter to the Church in Rome Paul states, ” I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. ” (Romans 1:15)

    Did you see that? Paul wanted to preach the gospel to a body of believers in both cases. What is behind Paul’s thinking?

    I think Paul and all the other apostles knew that christians AND non-christians alike need to hear the gospel.

    Christians need to hear the gospel over and over and over again because they sin and fall short every day and they need to know that Christ’s death on the cross is also for them and that Christ’s forgiveness of sins is offered to them as well (not just unbelievers).

    Can I challenge you to watch a video online? I know we don’t know each other. But I’d love to get your feedback and thoughts on it. I think this video will knock your socks off and again remind even a sinner like you how incredibly good the good news is.

    Here’s the link.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1620_shepherds_and_unregenerate_sheep/

    Grace and Peace to you.

  4. Russ, why does “special” equate with “inauthentic” or “not real” in your mind?

    Chris, don’t apologize for asking a question that might challenge Adam, he’s a big boy, and can handle it. Plus, reading his answers are most of the fun coming to his blog!

    Adam, I would love to see some real stats that back up your “dirty secret”. In every church I’ve worked in, Easter (not so much Christmas, btw) has provided long term growth.

  5. @todd- you know darned well that I made that up. it’s an exaggeration. though i can say from my own experience that it’s 100%! a lot of hard work for nuttin!

    @chris- like todd said, I can handle it. i enjoy the dialog… it’s the fun part of blogging! i’ve got no problem with Paul (obviously) or John Piper. (well, he’s just a man, not inspired by the Holy Spirit… a mere mortal like you and I.)

    I think Paul’s ministry calling, in context of today’s leadership, was to plant churches, set up leadership, and keep moving. Since Paul was an apostle and not a pastor (positionally speaking)… it’s tough to look at him as an example of pastoral leadership.

    Instead, look at Paul’s pastoral epistles and you’ll see a more complete picture of what a pastor should be doing. (Titus shows this in a pretty informal, matter of fact way, in my opinion.) 2:15-3:2, “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

    Hey look… I’ve got no problem with how churches conduct their business. But I think (and have seen first hand) that many people think it’s all about Easter and Christmas from a church growth perspective. I just don’t buy it. I’d rather Easter/Christmas be about the life of the church and train people in my congregation to bring folks EVERY week instead of circling certain days to be “growth days” and put all my eggs in that basket. (like that pun???)

  6. That’s what I love about my church. Holy Week is about Holy Week. The biggest “stress” we had (if you could even call it a stress) was, “What time will Masses be held on Holy Thursday? Good Friday? Easter Vigil? 7? or 8pm??”

    No need to over do the resurrection. It speaks for itself.

  7. @Katie- I think evangelicals have plenty to learn from our Catholic brethren when it comes to managing the church. This is one of those places! Hopefully, more and more churches will focus on serving the needs of worshipers who come and less and less on viewing it as a marketing opportunity!

  8. I like what you had to say, Adam. Especially, “Instead of marketing hype, why not invest in relationship hype?” That is a great idea and more churches need to think about that.

  9. and vice versa. While I am not one for reaching out to the point of making people feel uncomfortable (or maybe that is just me that feels uncomfortable), I also think pastors, deacons and such could do a bit more to reach out to the “benchwarmers”.

  10. Twas the day before Easter, and all through the country, not a pastor was resting, not even a one…

    I was just remembering what a great conversation this was. I wonder this 2009 discussion had any 2010 effect?

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