As we approach Easter, churches across the world are preparing to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have the palms ready, Easter eggs planned and the special music rehearsed — everything is ready for the guests we will receive during this special season.
While Easter is a very special time in the church, it isn’t the climax of the story but the opening scene of God’s desire to reach us. Too many times, churches forget this as they focus all of their energy on the “big bang” of the Easter service.
We need to not only focus on the moment of Easter morning but also on how we use it as the start of a life‑giving relationship with our risen Lord.
Step 1: Take actions during the Easter service to help with follow‑up.
Greeting Strategy. Make sure that you have a greeting strategy in place to make your guests feel welcome from the moment they enter the parking lot until they leave. Every interaction with guests matters. Take the time to make sure you’re ready to welcome them.
- Welcome Area. Set up a “welcome area” where guests can find more information. Ensure that it’s clearly visible and identifiable from the back door of the sanctuary. Create welcome packets with information about the church. If possible, staff the area with the best ambassadors of your church.
- Ask guests for contact information. It’s essential that you create a way to gather basic data like email address or mobile number for follow-up. Many churches use a communication card, and create a compelling reason for people to fill it out. One trend is to make a $2 - $5 donation to one of several local charities if they fill out a connect card. Guests can select the charity they care about, and the church will send them a thank you note with a record of the donation.
- Create an immediate follow‑up event. Near the end of the Easter service before the benediction, invite attendees to a fun, family‑friendly event to occur in the next two weeks like a Blessing of the Animals, Family Fun Night or an opportunity where families can serve together.
Step 2: Develop a nurturing strategy.
Identify the unique needs of your guests. Work to identify the different types of guests that worshipped with you on Easter Sunday. Sort the communication cards into different segments and needs, such as families of members, inactive members or attenders and new guests to your church. If possible, add additional information your welcoming team may have gleaned during interactions with the guests. Use this to determine what follow-up events are most appropriate for them.
Create a follow‑up plan for attendees. Develop a plan to communicate with attendees to nurture the relationship. This includes an initial contact within 24 to 48 hours of the Easter service as well as a planned, scheduled strategy over the days and weeks afterward. Use a mix of letters, postcards, email and text messages scheduled over several weeks and months to create an effective follow‑up strategy.
Encourage reflection on the message of Easter. Too many times we view Easter as a singular event. Early in your follow-up, challenge attendees to reflect on the message and how it may change their life. Depending on the sermon, you might send some small item to help them connect more deeply with the Easter experience.
Step 3: Stay focused throughout the year.
Commit to a strong outreach strategy. Plan outreach events that help reinforce the place of the church in your community. Be intentional by developing an outreach strategy that provides a meaningful next step in the relationship with the church. Start with an invitation to a family-friendly event such as a BBQ; then create a follow-up event like a free parenting or financial class before asking them to fully commit to membership.
Communicate early and often. Build an annual multi-channel communication plan. Build a 12-month editorial calendar, make sure you have quality designed materials and get the congregation involved in communication efforts.
Always be ready for guests. Churches unintentionally drive away guests by not staying focused on the fundamentals. Keep worship strong every week. Maintain good welcoming practices. Keep decluttering the church.
Create an intentional integration strategy. As guests return, the church must intentionally integrate them into the life of the church and help them become disciples of Jesus Christ.
— Eric Seiberling is part of a husband-wife duo working to help the church embody "1 > 99" at brokensheep.com. He leverages his 20+ years of marketing and consulting experience to help churches "baptize" and use secular techniques to be more effective at reaching the lost, the least and the last for Jesus Christ.