By Jason Daye
You’ve handed out personal invite cards, set up social media invite ads and mailed postcard invitations to your community. You’ve prayed with your ministry leaders and have worked on your Easter gospel message. You’ve freshened up the nursery and have a new coat of paint in the lobby. You’ve stuffed plastic Easter eggs with candy and have your first impressions team ready to smile. You’ve trained some new volunteers and have lovingly encouraged your seasoned volunteers. You’ve fine tuned the worship band, have all the lighting in place and have the video clips ready to go. You and your team have done all you can to prepare to welcome guests and make their Easter worship experience meaningful and life-transforming.
All of the time, energy, and resources you have put into the Easter season will open the doors for you and your church to connect with new people and share the hope of Jesus. It is a lot of work, but the rewards cannot be rivaled: introducing people to our Risen Lord!
With all the effort we have put into the Easter season, we need to be sure we have our post-Easter priorities in place. Most importantly, we want to process through these priorities before Easter Sunday. If we wait until after Easter, we will miss the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with the new families God brings our way.
In my years of pastoring I have found three questions to be most helpful as we prayerfully consider how we can effectively build relationships with guests:
- What’s Next?
- Who’s Best?
- Why Us?
Sometimes we get so caught up in all we are doing as a church during the Easter season that we fail to step back and think about what the next steps are for someone who attends our Easter events or worship. This question is absolutely critical if we want to move from just connecting with new people to building true relationships with them.
So, what is the next step for a guest? More specifically, what are you inviting them to experience next? The more focused you can be on answering this question, the more effective you will be in helping newcomers make a decision to connect again. Make the time to think through this with your ministry team. Perhaps it is a family movie night or an evening meal where they can explore their questions about faith or an opportunity to serve like a Habitat for Humanity build. Whatever it is, be sure you have all the details ready in advance and make the invite on Easter Sunday. Clarity and simplicity are your friends. Give your guests clear direction on how they can take that next step with your church family.
This question is one I wished I had thought of earlier in my ministry, because once I began working through this question in relation to the guests we were meeting, deeper relationships began growing exponentially. This truly is a game-changer when it comes to engaging with newcomers. Studies show that guests who make relationships at a church have a higher probability of not only regularly attending worship, but placing their faith in Jesus. So this definitely needs to be a priority.
Take the time to think through a variety of potential guests who might attend your Easter activities or worship. We are not talking about specific guests, but categories of guests. For example, single moms with elementary aged children, families with new babies, unmarried 30somethings, empty nesters, retirees who have lost their spouse, etc. The context of your church and community will impact the categories you and your team brainstorm.
Once you have this list, prayerfully consider “who’s best” from your church to connect with each category of potential newcomers. Reach out to these individuals and couples within your church and ask them if they would be willing to be introduced to any guests who you think they would connect with best. Explain the heart of what your church is trying to accomplish: to welcome new people, begin building authentic relationships with them and ultimately make disciples. If possible, provide gift cards or funds for your volunteers to take families out to lunch or meet for coffee.
This is a simple question that can help you and your ministry team better evaluate your church as a whole. The core of this question is “why would a guest choose to attend and engage with our church?”
Answering this question does two important things for your ministry. First, it helps you refine and focus on those strengths that your church can uniquely offer to your community. In relation to your Easter season, this question helps your team live into your strengths as a church and communicate to guests why your church might be a great place for them to find healing, wholeness and community. Again, schedule adequate time to process through this question and create an action plan from what you learn. What strengths can you better highlight? How do these connect with your response to the question, What’s Next? Are there opportunities or resources that you can offer to better connect with your guests?
Second, answering this question reminds you that your church is one of many participants in God’s mission. You do not have to win everyone over. Your church plays a critical role in God’s mission in your community, but you are not the only church or ministry through which God is working. This can be incredibly freeing and encouraging as it gives your ministry leaders permission to be all that God has called your church to be, but not strain to become something He has not called you to be. This keeps us grounded and helps us avoid impostor syndrome. It compels us to stretch into all God is leading us into, and trust Him with our role in extending the love and hope of Jesus into our community.
Make the time now to address these three questions. Allow God to direct your church as you grow in your faithfulness to His calling. Make these a priority as you prepare to welcome guests this Easter and watch God work through your people for His glory!
With 20 years of pastoral leadership experience, Jason Daye is passionate about helping ministry leaders discover how God is already working in their unique ministry contexts and uncover opportunities to build bridges into their neighborhoods to extend the hope of Christ. Jason’s lead pastor roles have provided him experience in several contexts including church plant re-launch, multi-site church, multi-ethnic urban church, and established suburban churches. He has also served in pioneering mission work and compassionate ministry projects in several countries.
As Vice President of Mobilization, he dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness as they embrace the mission of Jesus. Jason provides oversight to key ministry initiatives at Outreach, equipping Christ-followers to share their faith and engaging churches to reach their communities. Jason also serves as the Executive Director of National Back to Church Sunday and as host of the Churchleaders podcast.
Jason lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children. He enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram @jasondaye.