Growing up, you may have heard the saying, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”
On Easter Sunday, there’s a good probability that statement will ring true as you encounter new visitors at your church. While guests may go through the motions of wearing their best outfit, talking with a greeter, grabbing a cup of coffee and heading into the service, they’ll likely form quick opinions about their experience.
But no pressure, right?
Fortunately, God doesn’t require you to run the perfect Sunday service, but desires willing hearts to love and serve Him. The 60-minute window in which visitors come inside the building is an opportunity to welcome your community with God’s love.
Having said that, there are practical steps you can take to help your church be a place where people feel at home during Easter weekend and beyond. By going through this “First Impressions Church Walk-Thru Resource,” you can identify how to prepare for newcomers in three ways: public areas, preschool and children’s areas, and safety/security. Make sure to take time later to come up with an action plan for these sections.
So, whether you need to heighten the church’s curb appeal or train members to follow childcare safety procedures, know these agenda items have purpose. While church improvements may not seem as pertinent to you as the Easter message itself, they are an investment in your guests. By providing a healthy church atmosphere, you’re removing distractions and allowing attendees to focus on Jesus.
In addition, it’s crucial to realize that many who come for Easter services may actually be members of your church who only attend during the holidays. Thom Rainer, former president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, addressed Easter as being one of the most popular church attendance days annually, but shared how participants aren’t just guests.
By providing a healthy church atmosphere, you’re removing distractions and allowing attendees to focus on Jesus.
“More inactive and less active church members attend [Easter services], often to make their annual token appearance,” Rainer writes. “The attendance growth is therefore the result of most of the church members showing up at the same time. Easter is typically not a day where a large number of unchurched people show up.”
Even so, it’s likely these members have uncertainty walking into a place they rarely go, and many of them may identify with Christianity but have yet to start a relationship with God.
Perhaps then, the key to preparing for your Easter audience isn’t attracting more newcomers, but engaging those who are already there so they will want to return more than once a year. This engagement can start by making them feel more comfortable at church, which can again be incorporated through beginning an action plan based on the walk-thru resource.
Therefore, as you encounter many making first impressions — and some returning members — on Easter, remember the holiday is about humanity receiving a second chance. The Bible explains after Jesus died on the cross, several of His followers saw His tomb was empty and thought His body had been stolen.
At first, they had no idea He had risen from the dead and their God had just enabled them to have forgiveness and eternal life through Him (John 20:9). However, nowadays, you can read God’s Word and know you serve a God who rose again and still lives today.
And that’s good news to honor and celebrate — and it’s a reason to make sure your church is alive, too, and ready to receive all who enter its doors.
by Lizzy Long / Contributing Writer
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