What will Guests Remember This Easter?

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Every church I know works hard to create a great Easter experience. Traditional churches are practicing their choirs and cantatas. Others put and an enormous amount of work into a passion play.   Contemporary churches are learning a new song and decorating creatively but all of us are trying to put our best foot forward.

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Here’s the truth

The frustrating part of Easter is:  With all those hours put in, most guests will not remember what songs we sang, if the drama was good or recall most sermons.

So what will a guest remember about your Easter service?

They will remember how they FELT in your church.

I know it’s important to preach the gospel.  I know it’s important to praise the Lord and to pray.  If guests are nervous of feel unwelcome they are less likely to receive the gospel or the presence of God.

I hope if you’re reading this blog, you don’t make the mistakes that some declining churches make, of berating those that only come on holidays.  I once heard a preacher say, “It’s nice to see a full church for Easter but what would be great is if you all came back next week.”  While I agree with his intention (to get people to come back) that’s not the way to do it.  What guests were hearing was that the preacher was mad at them because they only came on Easter.  Guess what will happen?

Next Easter they will choose another church or worse…choose not to go to church at all!

Make guests feel welcome, as you would do in your home.  Give them free coffee and a cookie.  Most important greet them.  Smile, shake their hand, and introduce yourself.  Encourage your members to do the same.

People who feel welcome will like your church but not remember why.  They’ll have an ’emotional memory’ that will make them more open to returning when you invite them back.

When I talk to someone who has been attending our church for a month or more, and I ask them about the music or sermon they day they first attended they hesitate. They have trouble recalling those details but they can always recall how they felt.

I hear phrases in our church such as “I felt safe.” or “I genuinely felt like people were glad I was here.”  What they are describing is an emotional memory.

How will they feel on the drive home from your Easter service?

Church Leaders should also read: What is the Most Important Part of Easter?

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What is the Most Important Part of Easter?

Your church will have more unchurched guests at Easter than at any service all year long (yes bigger than Christmas Eve).  They may attend because it’s a cultural tradition. They may attend because their loved one pressured them to.  Maybe your church invited them on social media. Most of the time, they attend because someone they knew, from your church, invited them.

To you as a church member, I can’t stress enough the importance of invitation.

All statistics still say that between 85-90% of people who come to church for the first time came because someone invited them.  But this is not the most important thing this Easter or what this article is about.

Regardless of why these guests show up for Easter, it’s a great opportunity to share the Gospel with them.  What is the Gospel?  Gospel means ‘good news’.

To make the Gospel as simple are possible:

  • We are all lost sinners.  No one is good enough to get to heaven.
  • The good news is Jesus came to make a way for us to get to heaven.
  • He paid the price, taking the punishment for our sin on the cross and purchasing eternal life through His resurrection.
  • Salvation (being saved from Hell and death) can’t be earned but is the free gift of God given through Christ Jesus.
  • Today you can receive the forgiveness for your sin by asking for Jesus to forgive you as Savior and to become His follower by surrendering control of your life to Him.

To you who are preachers, here is the most important thing you’ll do this Easter…

More important than the music being awesome, more important than the greeters being welcoming, more important than having enough chairs or parking, more important than the children’s church being fun, more important than the bathrooms being clean, even more important than preaching the Gospel…what?

Ask for a Decision.

We must preach the Gospel but it doesn’t do any good unless we ASK for the decision to follow Jesus.

Rick Warren says every sermon comes down to the words “Will you?”  I always ask these three questions:

  • Will you make the decision to become a follower of Jesus?  
  • Will you ask Him to forgive your sin?
  • Will you surrender control of you life to Him right now?

Too often people come to Easter, see a skit, hear a choir and listen to a message of how Jesus died for them but are never asked to change their lives.  As an ex-sales trainer, I would get upset with salesmen that would tell a potential customer all the benefits of the product, engage them emotionally, peak their desire but then not ask them to buy in.  We do the same thing in churches.  “Jesus loves you, forgives you…He died for you.  You should live for Him. Ok, Happy Easter, hope to see you next week.”

Don’t forget to ask for repentance and commitment.  Ask for the decision.

My personal thought is to challenge their self-sufficiency.  Too many sermons ask if people want to be forgiven but not who wants to carry their cross.

The Gospel you respond to is the Gospel you live by.

If we say, “Just whisper this prayer and abracadabra you’re born again.” We aren’t asking for their allegiance to Christ.

Many pastors inform the mind and engage the emotions, but avoid challenging the will.

This Easter the most important thing any preacher can do is clearly articulate the need for salvation and then ASK FOR A DECISION to live for Jesus!

God Bless and may you have a great Easter with many decisions for Jesus.

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Bonus point #1:  Some people think they’re too bad to be forgiven, give them hope.  Let them know that they can come to faith in Christ. No person is too far away from God. Many people you’re trying to reach this Easter don’t believe this. Give examples from your life or sinful people forgiven in scripture such as King David the adulterer.

Bonus point #2:  Follow up on all decisions.  After you ask for a decision, remember that we don’t want to make decisions but disciples.  You can’t do that if you don’t capture their information.  To learn more about retaining your Easter guests go to:

How To Make Sure Guests Don’t Come Back

To learn how to make disciples more effectively, the best thing you’ll ever do it participate in Leadership Coaching/Mentoring.  Here’s a shameless plug since Leadership Coaching changed my ministry life.

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Fastest Growing Churches Have Modern Worship & Teach Literal Bible Interpretation

That’s the headline from the Christian Post that popped up in my Facebook feed recently.  This article was quoting a study of North American, denominational, Protestant churches.  The study compared growing and declining churches and concluded that “Theology Matters.”

One pastor interviewed about the study* stated that

“I think the wisdom of that study is the two parts. There does need to be a modern sense of an expression of the faith while at the same time a conservative, Orthodox view of Christianity,”.

What is an Orthodox view of Christianity?

  • Over 93% of those leading growing churches believe in the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus. Compared to only 56% of those in the study leading declining churches.
  • 100% of those leading growing churches believe God does miracles in response to prayer where only 44% of those in the study leading declining churches.

Here’s a crazy side note: 80% of the congregants surveyed from declining churches believe God answers prayers with miracles so maybe they just need better leaders. It seems to me that as a person who believes in the literal resurrection and that God still does miracles when we pray, if my pastor didn’t, I would leave that church.  Maybe that’s why they are declining…hmmm.

This study teaches us three things if we want our church to grow.

1.    Modern Matters. People prefer modern style worship services.

2.    Theology Matters. People want churches to believe in literal interpretation of the Bible.

3.    Evangelism Matters. Growing churches evangelize.

Every church leader surveyed from growing churches believed that it was ‘very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians.’ Only half of those in declining churches felt the same way.  If you don’t believe the Great Commission to go and make disciples is ‘very important’ then you’ll probably be leading a declining church.

For more on personal evangelism see Your Story Matters.

If you lead a church where your theology is sound but you still find yourself stagnant of declining. I can help.  A great first step would be to Come to the Maximizing Easter seminar.

The Maximizing Easter seminar will give you the tools to unlock your church’s growth potential. Potential that is there each Easter, but is untapped by stagnant or declining churches.

I am hosting this seminar, near Albany, NY with church growth expert Nelson Searcy, who has helped hundreds of churches grow.

What have you got to lose by checking it out? Go to: https://churchleaderinsights.com/maxeaster/albany/  to learn about unlocking your church’s growth potential this Easter.

 

PS: You’re not a church leader?  Send this blog to your pastor!  I want to help your church and your pastor.

 

 

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*Read the whole study at http://www.christianpost.com/news/fastest-growing-churches-have-modern-worship-teach-literal-interpretation-of-the-bible-study-171607