Resurrection Sunday Tips on Reaching Others
Every Resurrection Sunday churches are filled with Christians looking to celebrate a risen Savior and Lord. But mixed in with all of those Christians are the curious, the invited, the unchurched and the lost. As a long time elder on Easter Sunday, I have seen extended families packed into rows that we have never seen before and people that attend for egg hunts with children in ties and slicked down hair; and pretty dresses and curls.
It is easy to be cynical when attendance swells for just one day. But, that is a tendency we must avoid as church leaders. Regardless of motivation, attendees get to hear the Gospel proclaimed and that is never a bad thing. We must view each person as an opportunity for a Kingdom harvest.
So, what can churches do to help visitors get as much out of the service as possible? At Speiro we have put together a short list of things to consider for Resurrection Sunday to make a good impression on outsiders possibly looking to become insiders. Please read Colossians 4:2-6 before you read this list.
- The greeting should begin in the parking lot. Depending on church size (one person to a whole team) should be outside the church, directing parking if needed, but certainly indicating which door to use, where the nursery is located or where to drop off children. Long-term consider clear, large signs on the exterior to direct visitors to the right doors.
- Have friendly greeters outside the door. Have you ever been to a restaurant for the first time and no one opens the door and the hostess stand is empty? You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach not knowing if you walked in the right door or whether you should seat yourself or not. Forever, that feeling can be associated with the business. That is why large chain restaurants have friendly employees opening the door and greeting you as you arrive. They want a positive feeling associated with their business. We also need to give attendees a positive feeling by letting them know they are in the right place at the right time. Long-term set up a welcome Ministry Team.
- Greeters inside should be both friendly and knowledgeable. This job is more than handing out bulletins. I have manned the door prior to services for years and get a wide variety of questions, from location of the bathroom to "Is the nursery a peanut free zone?". Have leaders nearby to help seat people and answer questions. Long-term think about common questions and have brochures printed up and made available to assist with frequent questions.
- Read your bulletin before Easter morning and make changes. The primary purpose of the bulletin is for visitors. Other than the “Prayer List” and “Who is Serving Today” members usually ignore the repetitive information and do word searches for typos. Would an unchurched person understand what is going on based on the bulletin? Is it simple and clear? Also, make sure the things you are promoting shed the most positive light on the church. Think about each item. For instance, what does “Last Week’s Giving” tell a visitor? Get rid of churchy words and abbreviations that the unchurched don’t understand. Long-term, think about color, logo, font choice and layout.
- If you have a projector and slides, they should walk a person through each step of the church service. Prior to the start of the service, begin with a friendly welcome slide and then rotate through a total of five more informational slides at most. They should include the welcome, directions to bathrooms or nursery, turn off cell phones and then three more slides that promote church activities that hit your target demographic. They should be short messages and stay up for just 10 – 15 seconds before they switch. You should get through 6 in about a minute. Long-term think about developing a consistent theme.
- During the official welcome, let people know how and why to fill out the visitor cards or attendance sheets, first. This will give visitors time to complete the cards. I have seen people reach for cards and then the music starts and they are asked to stand up. They then put the card down and never fill it out. The other announcements should be about directions for service and three events or programs that you want to mention. These should be the same ones on the slides and in the bulletin. Repetition is effective. Long-term quit winging the announcement time. It is the official introduction of the church to the visitors. A rambling, incoherent, unplanned welcome can turn people away.
- Things like communion are foreign to many visitors. During the meditation a short explanation should be on a slide. Also, some time should be taken to explain who can partake, the purpose and the process. The way churches do communion varies even in Christian Churches. Let people know if you hold the emblems and take them together or if the used cups should be placed in racks under the seats, etc. Sometimes it seems like we try to make people uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons. The process should never create anxiety, leave that to the Spirit! Long-term use the slide every week and remind those giving the meditation that visitors need information.
- The nursery needs to be cleaned, organized and manned. Nothing will run a family out of a church faster than to drop off a child at a dirty, disorganized room with a sixteen year old volunteer in charge with a baby on each hip. There should be a check-in process! Each child should be assigned to a parent. There should be a checkout process. The child can only leave with the person that checked them in. Long-term work out a permanent process with signs and brochures about the nursery and children’s opportunity.
- If there is a greeting time or intermission, core members must be told (before the service) to greet visitors first and then talk to current members. If improperly done this three-minute shake and howdy time can alienate and pressure people. Some churches have rejected this awkward time altogether. Long-term educate your membership about the importance of welcoming all visitors and think about the purpose for the intermission and whether this time hurts more than helps.
- If your church expects a decision regarding, baptism, prayer or membership at the end of the service make a slide for that, to come up while the minister is wrapping up the sermon. Again, each church is different so let people know what is going on.
- Just because the service is over doesn’t mean the greeting and welcoming is over. Personally, saying goodbye and inviting people back next week is important. A team needs to put off the ham dinnerand egg hunts for a warm farewell.
This is just a short list of things that can be accomplished at any church. There are several other things to consider, from special parking, signs, website updates, to lighting in the auditorium. I would encourage you to look at your church as a visitor and see what improvements can be made so we can be wise in the way we act towards outsiders and make the most out of every opportunity.