Building a Better Easter Welcome

Easter services are among the most important events at your church each year. You not only celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but you also have one of the best opportunities all year to reach new people.

In chapter 14 of The Purpose Driven Church, I shared some ideas on how you can improve the guest experience at your church. With Easter coming up, I’ve put together this checklist to help you prepare for the big day.

Now is the time to get started!

  • Include a map of your church on all advertising. A small map can provide clarity, especially if mapping apps can’t locate your church accurately.
  • Create a system to give guests the best parking spots. At Saddleback, we have a sign at our property entrance encouraging guests to turn on their headlights if they want a reserved parking spot. Then our parking team directs them to spots near the worship center.
  • Make sure you have clear signage. Show people how to find the most important places on your campus, including restrooms, information tables, coffee/snacks, kids ministry, and student ministry.
  • Prepare greeters to welcome your guests. The first people your guests see on your campus ought to smile and welcome them warmly. If you already have an established greeter ministry, remind your greeters of the importance of their role on Easter.
  • Offer children’s programming simultaneously with each service. Guests generally don’t want to deal with wiggly kids (either theirs or anyone else’s) during the service.
  • Ensure your building is sufficiently bright. Most church buildings are too dark. Brighten up your environment and watch your service come to life.
  • Set up an info table. Give name badges to these volunteers so your guests know where to go with their questions. Try to anticipate the most common questions guests might have. (Where are the restrooms? Where do I take my child? How do I get into a small group?) It’s also helpful to have basic information available in printed form for guests to take with them to review later. If you already have an info table, make sure it is well stocked and ready to go.
  • Allow guests to remain anonymous. Avoid doing anything that makes them stand out.
  • Pass out welcome cards or bulletins to everyone. When everyone gets a card, guests aren’t singled out.
  • Provide some refreshments. Food relaxes people. Almost everyone loves a donut, but also offer some healthy (or semi-healthy) options. If you can’t get food, at least try to provide coffee.
  • Have recorded music playing when people get inside the building. Music puts people at ease. We’ve noticed that the louder the background music is, the more animated people are when they talk.
  • Begin and/or end your service by asking attendees to greet one another. It’s a great way to help guests feel like they belong.
  • Print out a simple order of service. When possible, use straightforward, non-religious terms that people understand even if they’ve never been to church.
  • Look for ways to save time during the service. Most of your guests have short attention spans. Have the components of your Easter service written down for your team, with an expected time for each element. Trim that time as much as you can.
  • Keep your public prayers short. Unchurched people can’t handle long prayers. Their minds wander.
  • Structure your music for IMPACT. We try to follow this flow for our worship music.
    • Inspire Movement: An upbeat song that makes you want to clap or stomp your feet.
    • Praise: Joyful songs about God.
    • Adoration: More meditative, intimate songs sung to God.
    • Commitment: A song that gives people an opportunity to affirm or reaffirm a commitment to God (usually in the first person).
    • Tie it all together: Another short, upbeat song to end the service.

MAKING IT PERSONAL

Print this checklist out and talk about it with your team. What’s missing?

Call three to five guests to your church from the last six months, and ask about their impressions—both positive and negative. If you leave a message, follow up with an email to ask for their feedback. Take what you’ve learned and let that influence your plans for Easter.

There’s a lot on this list, which will be even longer if you and your team include additional items! You may not be able to address all of these issues. Which issues are critical for your church? In what ways is God calling you to prepare?

> Read more from Rick Warren.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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