3 Mistakes to Avoid this Easter

Easter will soon be here, and I’m confident you are deep into prayer and planning. But here’s my question for you.

What do you want to be different about Easter this year?

If you don’t do anything different, you won’t experience anything different.

What is your vision for Easter? Are your plans clear?

There is still time for the weekend of April 16 to have the greatest Kingdom impact possible. There is still time to work on all that you are praying for.

For far too many church leaders, Easter is secretly a great disappointment every year. Not because of the attendance, that’s usually very strong, but because so few visitors return the following Sunday.

That is frustrating.

I’ve not met anyone who has all the “answers” to solve the great post-Easter exodus, but I’ve learned some mistakes we can all avoid. Avoiding them will help you move in the right direction.

3 Mistakes to Avoid:

1) Designing your Easter service primarily for Christians

Easter is an incredible celebration of the resurrection of Christ! We often quote the words “He is Risen. (with the response) He is risen indeed!” I love that tradition. As Christians, we worship and celebrate with profound gratitude.

But for the many who attend who are far from God, it’s likely that they don’t fully understand what’s being said during Easter services. It’s a mistake to assume that all those who attend will understand the message.

To you and I, the gospel is clear, simple, powerful and life-changing. But in a country where religious pluralism is the cultural norm, it’s important to think about how people interpret what we say and how we act.

The good news is that the Holy Spirit can cut through in a moment to reach someone’s heart. But it’s also true that we should make it as clear as possible for anyone that the message just wouldn’t make sense within their worldview.

Do everything you can to think through the worldview and life perspective of those who don’t know God, believe in Him or even care. Design your service to include them, make them feel comfortable and eager for more.

2) Emphasizing the wrong numbers

We all get fired-up about the largest attendance of the year. Why wouldn’t we? We share the mission to reach people for Christ! But be careful, because you might just get what you aim for, a large attendance, but that’s it.

Leveraging the majority of your energy primarily toward attendance may ultimately yield less of what you really hope for. That would be a leadership mistake.

What might happen if you leaned into a different set of “numbers” as your primary emphasis? Such as these three:

  • Salvations
  • Baptisms (to follow)
  • People who come back to church

I’m not suggesting that you dismiss the importance of a huge invite into your community. A larger attendance potentially, but not automatically, means a greater harvest. So, go for it! Invite big. But it may also be wise to place emphasis on another measurement. How many people return to continue to pursue their faith in God.

Let’s be candid, merely extending an invitation to come back to church the following weekend is not enough. If it were, enormous numbers of people would return every year.

Give people a reason to come back. Speak to a felt need in their life that is compelling. Make a connection that makes them feel at home. Make sure you communicate they are loved unconditionally by both you and God.

There is no easy solution here, but we need to give it our best.

3) Comparing your church to others

Comparison is natural but not helpful. Comparing your church to other churches rarely results in something positive or productive.

Comparison to smaller churches can lead to pride or complacency. Comparison to larger churches can lead to disappointment or discouragement.

Instead, pray for the other churches near you. Pray they have the best life-changing Easter ever. Write the pastor a note of encouragement! Celebrate all God did for them at Easter!

Even before Easter Sunday, begin thanking God for all who will come to your church, and especially for those who say yes to Jesus!

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7

8 thoughts on “3 Mistakes to Avoid this Easter”

  1. Thank you! How can we ever expect to influence someone’s worldview if we don’t take the time to first understand it. I just spoke about how important it is to understand the worldview of those we seek to share Jesus with to a group of young adults preparing to travel to Cambodia this summer.

    The harvest is indeed great, so lets indeed invite BIG!

    “Write the pastor a note of encouragement!” What a great (and timely) idea. There are pastors around the world that really need a note of encouragement.

  2. Father thank You for the awesome opportunity that we have every year to celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen, He is ALIVE! Lord, I pray for those who are far from You, I pray for those who may have turned away that they will experience an awakening unlike any other this Easter! I pray Father for all of our Churches that The Holy Spirit will fall and give us a fresh inspiration that One Matters to You! I pray God that this Easter will not be an obligatory day of reverence but instead will be a beautiful day of celebration of The One who set each of us FREE, believers and non-believers alike. I pray that this inspiration will continue for days, weeks, months, years to come leading us all into a revival celebrating Your Heart! You are a good, good Father! In Jesus’ Name AMEN

  3. I was there! Dr. Richard Myers quietly told one pastor, “I’d say you had about 400 for Easter.” The pastor responded, “What did you say?” Dr. Myers responded, “To be exact, I’d say you had 407.” The pastor responded, “That’s exactly what we had.” If, as is commonally believed, the big Easter attendance is the result of a lot of visitors and once a year church people, how could Dr. Myers have any idea how many people a church had on Easter?
    I heard the above conversation when I was in a classroom at Milligan College (near Johnson City, TN) in June 1969 at a 4 day colloquy on church growth. Dr. Richard Myers was the primary resource person. Dr. Myers’ research is not well known but, as someone with PhD level training in social science research, I’m convinced it may be the best ever done on churches. At that time he had data on over 10,000 churches and based on his research could account for over 90% of the varience in church size. That is exceptionally good. Part of his research involved surveying everyone present in a church 3 or 4 weeks in a row. What he found was that half the people present on a normal Sunday were not there the week before! Furthermore, 15% hadn’t been there the previous 2 weeks. The result was that he found only about 30% of regular attendees (attend at least 12 times a year) were normally present every week. A bit over 42% would come about 25 times a year and 27% would come about 18 times a year. Normally these people would spread themselves out over 3 or 4 weeks but they would all come on Easter. If weather or spring break travel don’t reduce it, the Easter attendance for nearly all churches will be close to 1.65 time their average attendance. Even at large churches where Easter attendance may be up a couple of thousand or more, there may be less than a dozen visitors from the local community.

      1. Yes, and when it came to determining a church’s size it was really pretty simple. The way Dr. Myers put it was a church would have the number of people it was prepared to serve. I like to put that as the number of people the church is structured to love at more than a very surface level. Examples of such structure would be small groups, classes, ministry teams, etc., places where other people in the church knew more than your name and face. If people aren’t in some kind of such group, within a year they will be a drop out.
        Things that a lot of church leaders and consultants think are important had no measurable impact on size. In some cases they might impact who (their demographics) but not how mwny. More than an emotional worship experience, people are looking for love. Have we substituted an emotional worship experience for loving–obeying– God?
        December 12, 2014, about 4 in the afternoon I felt a lot like Moses at the burning bush. For just the second time in my life I heard God speak to me as clearly as if he was sitting beside me talking out loud. It was just 2 words, “You’re it.” but I knew what he meant. Several weeks earlier He had given me a vision to transform the nation by transforming communities for Christ. I put that in my computer as “Christ transforming people to transform communities to transform the nation. I added that we needed to find the right leader for that and added, “I’m not it.” You can see more at my do-it-yourself website, ChristTransformingPCN.org.
        If you are interested in learning more, I may be in the Atlanta area in May.

  4. Nicely said. I love, in particular, these two powerful lines: “Give people a reason to come back. Speak to a felt need in their life that is compelling.” Great advice for leaders everywhere.

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