Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar, offers an opportunity to tell the most important story ever told: the story of the Resurrection of Christ, the defeat of death, the victory over sin and the promise of new life for people everywhere. It defines our Christian faith and represents the ultimate message of hope.
Easter presents the largest attendance weekend of the year for U.S. churches. Start planning now to develop ways to introduce your community to your church, so they may come and hear the story of the risen Christ.
FOCUS ON INVITATION, NOT ADVERTISING
A 2009 Lifeway research study showed that 56 percent to 63 percent of unchurched people were willing to receive information from friends, family or neighbors, while only 10 percent were likely to respond to advertising.
Clearly, marketing and advertising is meant to support the much more effective methods of making connections through love and friendship.
1. Invitation. A simple personal invitation to talk and join your community of love may be well received by those who are close to you.
SERVE OTHERS FIRST
Often, Easter appears more inwardly focused than Christmas or Thanksgiving. Strive to meet the needs of people in your community leading up to Easter weekend.
2. Spring cleanup. Spread the love of Christ by looking for people who may need help with home repairs or cleanup projects.
3. Free car wash. Organize a car wash with no strings attached. Just leave a small Easter card with your church's Easter worship activities in each vehicle.
4. Canned-food donations. Encourage everyone who attends your Palm Sunday or Easter service to bring canned food for a local food bank. Seeing the church serve others can offer a different view of the church and ultimately cause seekers to be more open to hearing the gospel.
LET THE CHILDREN COME: IDEAS FOR THE KIDS
5. Easter egg hunts or egg roll. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs represent Jesus' emergence from the tomb and his Resurrection. The tradition of decorating eggs for Easter dates back to the 13th century and often tells the Resurrection story. Plan a community Easter egg hunt or egg roll at your church or …
6. Host micro events at different locations in your community. Travel may be an obstacle for some people, so go to them. Consider asking a few big apartment complexes if you can use their courtyards or picnic areas to host a hunt. Consider including inflatables, games, food, door prizes and music to grab attention. It will be hard for residents to resist the fun. Make sure to invite participants back for next week's Easter service.
7. Easter egg decoration contest and art show. Ask the children of the community to submit decorated eggs and other pieces of art for Easter.
8. Palm Sunday celebration. Have the children reenact the Triumphal Entry — complete with a fake (or live for those who are daring) donkey and palm branches.
9. Egg-vitations. The Sunday before Easter, give each child ten plastic eggs with candy and an invitation for their friends and families to attend the Easter service. It is great to involve children as inviters.
10. Easter musical or drama. Never dismiss the power of a children's musical or drama. Children are remarkably capable of presenting the gospel in a compelling way, and parents, grandparents and friends who might otherwise never set foot in a church will come with cameras for a beloved child on stage.
TELL CHRIST'S STORY IN NEW WAYS
11. Film festival. Sponsor a film festival displaying new works by local artists that express the love of Christ or the Easter story or show commercially produced films about the story of Jesus' life, death and Resurrection. If you show commercially produced films, make sure to understand the copyright and licensing issues before showing them. Check out the Bible Film Blog for ideas on potential films.
12. Art exhibit. Ask local artists or artists in your church to create art inspired by the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Invite the community to view the creations and interact with the artists to hear their stories and perspectives. Or ask each artist to focus on one station of the cross and allow him or her to interpret it through painting, sculpture, performance art, music or other arts. This can convey the emotion of the Passion story in new and different ways.
13. Drama. Many plays touch upon the Easter story. Some show the entire Passion or Last Supper, while others depict modern life. Research scripts and choose one that is appropriate for your church's cast size, talents and production levels.
14. Music concert. Select music and Bible readings that touch on the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. Incorporate a mix of old hymns and newer music to show the many ways we can tell the story of Christ.
15. Passover Seder meals. From the United Methodist Book of Worship, page 351:
"United Methodists are encouraged to celebrate the Seder as invited guests in a Jewish home or in consultation with representatives of the Jewish community, thus respecting the integrity of what is a Jewish tradition and continuing the practice of Jews and Christians sharing at table together. Celebrating the modern meal without a Jewish family as host is an affront to Jewish tradition and sometimes creates misunderstanding about the meaning of the Lord's Supper."
With a little planning, your church can provide welcoming experiences to help convey the message of Easter to your community and spread the importance of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.