11 Keys to an Explosive Easter

By Gary Rohrmayer

"Overall, 31% of active churchgoers said they would definitely invite someone they know who does not usually attend a church to accompany them to a church service on Easter weekend this year."  Barna Group

In light of this research, if you have an average church attendance of 300, I believe that you could easily see 30-50% (100-150) increase at your Easter Service.  But what if you put some effort into it?  What if you spent 3 months planning and preparing your congregation for an explosive and transformational Easter this year?  I really believe that healthy churches can double their average attendance on Easter which will have a residual impact for the rest of the year.

With Easter falling later on the calendar this year, April 8, you have an opportunity to have one of your largest Easter attendances in the history of your church. Here are a few principles that you can apply in planning to have an Explosive Easter this year.

1.  Believe it can happen.

Leading a congregation can be a lonely and discouraging assignment. Helping pastors keep their heads in the game is one of the things I do all the time. It is so easy to get caught up with the negative distractions that ministry brings that we can get our eyes off the thousands of people who are so far from God but really close to us. Jesus said to his distracted disciples, "Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." (John 4:35)  What do you do as a leader to keep your eyes on the harvest? What do you need to do to keep your staff, leaders and church's eyes on the harvest? God is at work in your community! Do you believe it? Can you see through the eyes of faith the lives of families and neighbors who can be changed by the power of the gospel?

2. Have a record setting mentality.

What has been the largest Easter Service in the history of your church? What is holding you back to see it happen this year? The previous point deals with your belief in God and His redemptive work in the world. This point deals with your belief in your church, your team and God's work within and through your church. If you don't think it can happen as a leader then you and the church are in trouble. If you don't believe it then no one else will. What is keeping you for setting new Easter attendance record in the life of your church? 

3. Get your key influencers involved.

Getting key influencers involved in the process is vital to building positive momentum. Getting these individuals involved in planning and promoting your service is critical. Filling these individuals excitement about setting a new record and touching lives with the gospel is key, because it will spread infectiously throughout the congregation.

Too many pastors try to carry the load all by themselves, which is an unbiblical notion. Christianity is a team sport. Team building is one of the skills successful pastors need in their tool belts. Learning to pick the right players on your team is crucial. Guiding and leading the team is imperative. I encourage pastors to use short-term task forces with a specific task along with a starting and ending point.  If you build a task force for each of your major outreach initiatives for the Fall, Winter and Spring, your team building skills will improve each time and the impact on your congregation will dramatically improve.

4.  Put some effort into planning for before, during and after your Easter service
I call this the "three month rule" which is to begin the detailed planning process at least three months before launch of the outreach campaign.  Here is an overview of what would happen in those three months:

Three D's of Event Planning

  • Develop a punch list - generating a complete list of 'to do's' with due dates that that need to be completely to insure a successful event.
  • Determine a time line - listing major objectives 3 months before the event and 1 month after the event.
  • Delegate assignments to your team - empower your team to own the tasks that need to be completed.
    • Here are the major areas that need to be covered
      • Intercession
      • Communication - Membership Awareness
      • Marketing & Promotion to Community
      • Worship Service Planning & Preparation
      • Follow up & Come back events

  5.  Promote prayer & fasting for friends, neighbors and family.

It is a must to incorporate a church wide prayer project for before and during the campaign. One example: Call the church to "pray for five neighbors, for five minutes a day, for five weeks" before the outreach campaign. Tim Beavis of The Orchard Church in McHenry developed a "Who is my neighbor?" campaign with this concept. In addition to this you could also call the church to a season of prayer and fasting.

6. Start recruiting help for Easter early.

Here is the principle, "The more people get involved the more likely they are to invite people to attend." Recruiting, deploying, and encouraging volunteers at all levels is vital to the success of your Easter Outreach.

Generate a list of Entry Level Service Opportunities

  • Set Up
  • Take Down
  • Nursery
  • Greeter
  • Usher
  • Hostess
  • Sound Tech
  • Musician
  • Food Preparation
  • Choir
  • Children’s Ministries
  • Video Production
  • Audio Ministry
  • Small Group Host
  • Office Assistance
  • Event Production
  • Marketing Team
  • Website Production

7. Write a personal letter to every member of the church about the Easter Service(s).

Leaders lead and sending a letter to your congregation shows initiative and leadership.  Make a heart felt appeal to your people to make this the best Easter ever in the life of your church.  The letter should contain the following:

  • An enthusiastic vision: Why I am excited about this Easter Service?
  • Encouragement & ideas for inviting friends: What invitational tools can I encourage them to use?
  • Invite them to get involved: What serving opportunities do I need to specifically promote?
  • Get the specific details: What logistical details do I need to share with them?
  • Remind them of the reality of the resurrection in their lives: How can I encourage them to experience the victorious life promised in the resurrection?

See Sample Letter from Rick Warren at Saddleback Church

8. Reach out to the fringe people of your church.

Send a special invitation or a personal note to all your visitors from the last two the years. There is nothing like a personal touch when it comes to outreach.  In may cases the most receptive people you can reach have already attended your services at some point.

9. Cast seeds of awareness to the community at large.

This principle is that you will always have to cast more seed than you think to get a significant impact. I encourage churches to spend 5-10% of their budget on marketing outreach.  If you are facing a certain growth barrier you will need to kick that up to 10-15%.

Here are a couple of posts on the various ways to sowing seeds of awareness through relationships and throughout the community.

10. Preach a message on personal evangelism the Sunday before Easter.

Laying a biblical foundation and creating a heightened awareness for personal evangelism with the immediate application of inviting someone to Easter will really pay off in the long run. In recent years evangelism training in local churches has really been neglected. In making this part of your strategy you create a new discipline so that great commission living becomes infused into the life of your church.

11. Deliver the best Easter Service(s) to date. 

You will need to communicate throughout the staff and volunteers that we want to put your best foot forward in this Easter Service. By creating a sense of urgency and taking steps to raise the quality of your service will have a lasting impact on your church.

It is important that you raise the quality of the service, not dramatically change your service or try to create an over-the-top experience. Turning your service into a Easter Extravaganza can back fire on you. 1) It does not represent who you are on a normal Sunday. 2) It can create a let down in your first time attender who returns the next week. 3) In bringing outside speakers or worship leaders you don't improve.  Nelson Searcy writes, "Make your Easter service excellent, but keep it normal. If you are the one who usually preaches, preach on Easter. Have your regular worship leader lead worship on Easter. The goal with your Easter service planning should be this: To provide a great, quality service that reflects what attenders will see the rest of the year. When you get too fancy in your efforts to capitalize on Easter, you step out of the realm of reality and that can only lead to disillusionment." 

Here are some other resources to help you have an Explosive Easter.

This Easter Outreach Idea Works by Chuck Warnock

18 Easter Factors by C Michael Johnson

Marketing Your Church for Easter by John E. Squiric


Easter, Outreach, Preaching, Evangelism, Gary Rohrmayer