Churches can be great at putting together an amazing worship experience for Easter, but not so good at doing follow-up the next week. We all know the importance of Easter—along with the opportunity and openness to reach new people in our community.
It’s not uncommon to ramp it up for Easter and then take the next week off. However, it’s that following week where we have just as much opportunity to make an impression on someone new. It’s also our chance to show how the church helps provide meaningful answers to the weird world we live in every day of the year—not just on one Sunday in April.
While the topic of holiday follow-up isn’t new—in fact I think we’ve done a post on it every year—it’s something we still need to work on as churches if we really care about using the opportunities God brings though our doors on Easter. Here are a few things to think about as you look at follow-up. Some of it may be helpful for this year and other parts may be something to think about as you plan for big weekends in the future.
- Don’t let your personal calendar trump the church calendar. Like any job, there’s the tendency to have some sort of let down after you reach a major goal. For church staffers, Easter is the culmination of lots of planning and extra effort. It’s natural to want to take a well deserved break. But we have to remember for someone new to our church, Easter isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. While we’ve done months of work, a visitor may just be starting their journey. So as tempting as it is to schedule time off the week after Easter, it may not be the best way to serve new people in your congregation.
- Intentionally plan worship experiences beyond Easter as opportunities for meaningful follow-up. So many churches ramp things up for Easter only to have a huge let down the following week. There's extra music, special videos, a strong sermon, more smiling volunteers, etc. That experience is what was appealing to a first time visitor and probably the reason they'll choose to come back. So it's important not to go into relaxation mode in the weeks following Easter.
- Encourage members to invite their friends back. If you’re intentionally thinking about Easter follow-up, then you can also engage members of how they can be a part of that. Let them know what the church is doing the following weeks, whether it’s a particular sermon series or welcome classes, and equip members to share that information with their friends. If a member invited someone to an Easter service, it’s natural for them to follow up. So equip them with the tools to do that.
- Right-size your big weekend experience. If you can’t keep your Easter momentum going in the following weeks, maybe it’s time to rethink how you’re doing holiday weekends in the future. If there’s no way you can avoid a letdown then it’s time down-size your Easter service. Yes, there are weekends where you go big. And you should. But don’t go so big that the other weekends in the year can never come close to matching. Again, visitors are setting their expectations on your their first impression which could be your Easter service. Consistency is always the best.
- Provide a chance to catch-up with new people in person. This can be as simple as saying something from the stage like, “We know some of you visited for the first time last weekend. We’re glad you’re back. We’d like to get to know you a little better and show you what we’re all about.” Maybe you host a lunch or have some sort of welcome class as a way to meet these folks. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re acknowledging the new people who came back. If you’ve gathered any other information from them, like an email address, send them a follow-up that way, too. Always provide an opportunity for them to meet someone face-to-face.
- Make follow-up part of your annual tradition. Everything we’ve talked in this post is about effective follow-up. So think if there are things you can do that help motivate you on why it should a priority. For example, I went to a church where there was always some sort of dramatic alter call every Easter. People were asked to walk over a bridge on the stage or walk through a big set of doors. They tried to create a memorable and meaningful experience for those who were making their first commitment to Jesus. And every year, one of the people on stage to greet those coming forward, was the first person who made the commitment the year before. It was always moving for me to watch and a reminder of why follow-up matters. When we help people grow in Christ, it’s contagious. We can see the life change and how it can affect others.