Church Planting Blog - Gateway Leadership Initiative

If you’re leading or preparing to lead a “come as you are” church (what we like to call an ‘asUR’ church) that reaches people far from God, Easter’s a key season. Easter reminds us of the lengths God will go to in order to rescue one lost person.Tweet: Easter reminds us of the lengths God will go to in order to rescue one lost person. ~@J0hnBurke via @gatewayleaders Easter highlights the life of forgiveness and hope God desires for every soul broken by an evil world, and as leaders, we want that message to resound for those seeking Him. But in order to pull in these seekers this Easter, you must consider several inherently small objectives. Many leaders miss these five critical factors because we get buried in message prep and service planning, but to make the most of this season for reaching people, we can’t overlook how essential they are.

  1. Find the words to say

First, help people invite friends and neighbors. North America is a “post-Christian” country, so there are still people who remember going to Easter services as kids which that makes it easier to get people to attend. But you can’t assume that Christ-followers in your church know how to invite—so help them. Think through how you would word it if you were going to invite your neighbor who doesn’t seem interested in church (and actually invite that neighbor!). Then type it out and post the wording to social media, email your church using that explanation, and encourage them to pass it along. Keep it succinct, but think through what might grab a skeptic’s attention—the great music? The topic? Kids events? You’d be amazed at how much easier you make it for your church to invite friends if you give them words to say.

  1. Acknowledge Them

Merry, who came to faith at Gateway years ago, told me this week that her agnostic friend came with her for the first time. She told me that when we said from stage, ‘If you’re new here, just checking out faith, have doubts or questions—you’ve come to the right place—we’re really glad you’re here,’ that totally set her friend at ease. Such a simple thing as acknowledging and welcoming people who still struggle with faith makes a huge difference as to whether they’ll return.

  1. Think Beyond Easter

We’ve always measured the success of Easter not based on how much our attendance spikes that weekend, but how many new people come back to the next series. For that reason, we will often do a “high invite” series post Easter–one that would be of interest to people new to faith or church. This year, we’re doing a series called “Questionable: You’re Free To Ask” –-a series on questions skeptics may have and reasons to believe. Sometimes we will do a series on relationships or sex—a topic always on people’s minds—and use it to show how the Scriptures point us toward the life we all long to live out relationally. Remember, Paul started with where the Athenians lived and then bridged to the gospel—start where they live.

  1. Forecast Next Week

Don’t let Easter stand alone. Really think through how to convince people that they don’t want to miss the first two weeks of your new series! Remember, if they are unchurched, then they’re not planning on coming back next week unless you give them a good reason to. You may even want to put something in their hand to remind them.

  1. Give Next Step Opportunities

We use these post-Easter series as a time of high connection and easy next steps (we will have Q&A after each service and seminars to try to connect people into groups post-Easter). Think about ways to have “under-cover” greeters or people to invite new people to lunch each week. Have a serving faire to get people involved in serving opportunities. Launch “short-term” groups to discuss the series. When people meet people they like, they stick. If they don’t, they won’t.

Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will make this Easter season a very fruitful time for all of us. So glad you’re not just playing church, but rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty planting, sowing, and reaping in the fields Jesus sees: “I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!” (John 4:35-36).