For those of us in the church world, the next time we will plan an entire sermon or series around a holiday is Christmas. Yes, other holidays can be leverage points for the church, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. But for the most part, Easter and Christmas are the “Super Bowl” in the Church. You might do something special for Memorial Day but people aren’t coming to church just because it’s Memorial Day.
Yesterday, our churches were packed with people who don’t ever attend or don’t regularly attend. The anticipation was high, the energy was great and the excellence was probably at an all time high. For some of us, we’ve been planning Easter since Christmas. (By the way, Christmas Eve is 36 weeks away. HA!) Set designs were built, special songs were sung, sermon illustrations were created, invitations were given and hopefully people received life in Christ. So now what?
Easter is gone but another Sunday is coming right? People are going to show up this weekend again, right? I sure hope so. The church probably won’t be as full but the same God is going to be present. The energy probably won’t be as high but the expectation for God to move can still be the same. So after all the build up toward Easter, what do we do now? Here are five things I think we can and should do in the church that will help us continue the momentum of Easter:
1. Pray — Easter might be the biggest attendance day in the church but it doesn’t have to be the only day we pray toward. I think one of the reasons we see such great success around Christmas and Easter is because we give it the most focus in our prayers. I get it! We know that those two times we are going to see the most people who don’t know Jesus, so we ramp up our prayers for God to bring the right people through our doors and give us the right words to say and move their hearts to respond to His offer of salvation. But every Sunday is that way isn’t it?
Easter might mean more people are present who don’t know Jesus but this Sunday there will be someone present who doesn’t know Jesus. Are we praying for this Sunday the same way we did for Easter? If not, why not? Take some time today, or take some time this week with your team to really pray for God to move in a mighty way this Sunday. On Easter we celebrate the resurrection but He’s alive this coming Sunday too!
[Tweet “On Easter we celebrate the resurrection but He’s alive this coming Sunday too!”]
2. Plan — The same thing that’s true for our prayers is often true for our plans. I’m not saying that a church shouldn’t do anything special for Easter or Christmas, but I wonder sometimes if we don’t set ourselves up to fail by throwing out all the stops for the special days only to dial it back on the single days. If someone came to your church yesterday, will they experience anything similar this Sunday? What about next month? Will it be Christmas again before any special planning was made for a service or a sermon? Every Sunday should be a part of a planning process not just Easter Sunday.
What songs could supplement a sermon in July? What set design could help tie a series together in September? What illustration could communicate the Gospel next month, not just for Easter next year? Do you have a planning process for your sermons? Do you have one for your services? Having a plan doesn’t mean you always do something special, but it enables you to do something special when it fits and as God leads.
Here at Element Church we start our sermon series’ planning 15 weeks in advance. We plan our individual sermons 7 weeks in advance and we finalize our service planning 5 weeks in advance. Because we start planning so early, it doesn’t mean we always do something special but it sure sets us up to do that as the opportunity arises.
[Tweet “It’s easy to throw out all the stops for special days but dial it in for single days.”]
3. Prepare — My good friend Joe Sangl says, “Your level of expectation will determine your level of preparation.” This one is similar to planning, but it’s the next step. While planning helps you think through what’s next, preparing gets you working through what’s next.
Are you as ready for guests this Sunday as you were for the last? What if half of the guests who came for Easter showed back up again this week? Are you prepared for them? Do you know what you want them to do next? People are probably coming back. What is their next step when they do? What are you going to communicate to them? Again, so much preparation goes into Easter Sunday that I think we forget to prepare for the next Sunday.
One of the things we do at Element Church is schedule baptisms for the 2nd and 3rd week following Easter. We expect there will be people who make decisions to follow Christ and we want them to take their next step in baptism, so we have been preparing for that now for weeks. We also schedule our Discover Element Event for newcomers the week after Easter. So this coming Sunday, because we are prepared, we can point all of our new people to come learn more about who we are at Discover Element. We are also starting a brand new sermon series this week called This Is Us! It’s a series that will walk through the Core Values of our church. So on Easter, we invited everyone back for the start of our new series. All of those things were prepared out of an expectation that new people would be here and we want them to come back the following week.
[Tweet “While planning helps you think through what’s next, preparing get’s you working through what’s next.”]
4. Perform — All the praying, all the planning and all the preparing don’t really mean anything until you perform. And by perform I don’t mean “putting on a performance,” I mean “doing the work of the ministry.” Ultimately you just need to do it, right?
People are coming back this Sunday and it is our obligation to serve them well, point them to Jesus and help them take another step in Him. In each of our churches this is going to look different, but it needs to be done. We each have different programs, processes, worship styles, facilities and staff, but our purpose remains the same. Remember, there is no right way to do church but every church should point the way back to God.
Our level of focus, energy and excellence should be the same this week as it was last week. Every Sunday could be someone’s first time, first time in a long time or last time at church. Yes, only God can move a heart, but let’s not use that as our excuse to be mundane in our approach. God might move hearts but He uses us to communicate the message.
[Tweet “There is no right way to do church but every church should point the way back to God.”]
5. Trust — First off, it’s driving me crazy that I can’t find a “P” word to use here but that’s my own problem. In the end, and in the beginning, this all needs to be built on a foundation of trust. Not trusting in our own strength. Not trusting in our prayers, plans, preparation or performance but trusting in our God. Yes, I think we should do all of those things, but ultimately we have to trust that God is going to move people to attend and move people to respond.
If you don’t have the follow up week from Easter like you hoped, will you trust God? If you knock it out of the park this week, will you trust God? It’s just as easy to lose our trust in God in the good times as it is the bad. God wants people to be saved more than we do. God wants people to be connected to His church more than we do. Maybe we should trust God in that process.
[Tweet ” It’s just as easy to lose our trust in God in the good times as it is the bad.”]