You probably have heard the fact that more guests attend church on Easter than any other Sunday of the year. There is a related fact that you may not have heard: More churches miss the opportunity to connect intentionally with guests on Easter than any other Sunday of the year. Surprisingly, some guests will attend church on Sunday and never receive a follow-up contact or be told how to receive eternal life. Here are some basic reminders to help you make the most of this opportunity.
- The sermon begins in the parking lot.
First impressions matter, so have lots of smiling faces ready to greet guests. Teach your greeters to think like guests. Make sure your greeting team knows where all the Bible study classes meet, especially the children and preschool areas. Treat your guests as you would visitors in your own home. Exercise the gift of hospitality. As Danny Franks says, “The gospel is offensive, nothing else should be.
- Register guests.
It’s important to have a record of who visited so that you can follow up with your visitors later. There are many ways to do this without making it uncomfortable for the guests. One way is to have a welcome desk (or even a tent outside) where guests can volunteer to give you basic information. Many churches have a nice gift bag for guests, including information on the church, with a simple gift. Another non-offensive way to register guests is to have everyone in the service complete a registration card. James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Georgia, takes the time to complete this card himself from the pulpit during the service and asks everyone to do the same.
- Clearly present the gospel.
As basic as this sounds, make an extra effort to make the gospel as understandable as possible. After all, this is the day we celebrate the pinnacle of the gospel! Your sermon should include the basics of God’s purpose, our sin, Christ’s provision and how to respond. Encourage church members beforehand to invite guests, promising that you will do your best to present the message of salvation in simple way.
- Give a clear invitation.
As necessary as it is to give a clear presentation of the gospel, it is also necessary to give a clear way to respond in repentance and faith. Jim Shaddix of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has said, “The gospel of Christ innately demands a response from those who are confronted with its claims.” Consequently, it is irresponsible to preach the Word and not call for a decision.
- Follow up quickly.
Give each guest a personal contact after Sunday. This is why you registered your guests. This could be a letter from the pastor or a card from a volunteer. It might be a brief phone call thanking them for their visit or even an email or text message. One caution — if you call, be brief, and if no one answers, leave a voicemail. Do not keep calling back!
Here’s the deal: This is prime time to connect those far from God with Jesus Christ. Do not let another Easter go by without making the most of the opportunity God is giving you to make disciples of those who come through your doors!