3 Keys to Plan and Execute a Meaningful Easter Sunday 2022 

Simplify Your Easter Planning

Believe it or not, Easter is just around the corner. 

Arguably one of the most impactful Sundays of the year for pastors and churches, it is imperative that we take every opportunity to make the most of it.  Absolutely, we know that God is at work and moving in the hearts of people, but we can take action and do our part to be prepared for what God brings. 

As we head out of the cold months (at least for those of us up here above the Mason Dixon line), it can be hard to think about what’s just ahead in April. But the key to a successful Easter service in 2022 is preparing early AND thinking through how you can meaningfully impact the lives of those who will walk through your church’s doors this Easter. 

Click here to download your 2022 Simplify Easter Planning Checklist.

Why Easter Sunday Matters in 2022

Pastor, let’s be real for a minute. For as long as you’ve been in ministry, you’ve probably heard the adage that Easter Sunday is one of your most important and most impactful Sundays. It’s one of the few times a year you will get a flood of visitors to your church. You need to be prepared and go all out to make it meaningful. 

In fact, you may have heard these messages for so long that it’s become routine. Easter Sunday can easily become just another thing on your never-ending checklist.  

BUT.  

Easter Sunday matters in 2022 because we are living through a massive shift in the way that people think about the church and its relevance to their daily lives. And as the world shifts and attempts to move into some sort of new normalcy, you may even see an even high percentage of visitors this year. People are hurting. People are searching for meaning and a way to make sense of life.  

And while times have changed, the TRUTH of the gospel and the HOPE we have in Jesus has not. 

If Only Planning and Executing a Meaningful Easter Sunday Were That Simple

Knowing that Easter Sunday matters is one thing. Planning and executing a meaningful service or other weekend event is something else entirely. I get it. Planning for Easter Sunday can feel overwhelming, especially if you have a small team and a limited budget. (Or, if you tend to wait until the last minute to plan…as I am often prone to do).  

You don’t want to miss the opportunity to reach more people…but there are only so many hours in a day. That’s why we created the 2022 Simplify Easter Checklist. This checklist will help you plan a meaningful Easter weekend without the overwhelm.  

At Simplify Church we exist to help pastors simplify and grow healthy churches. That’s why we provide education and financial services for small and growing churches. And that’s why we created this checklist. Because we want to partner with you to make Easter 2022 meaningful.  

Download the 2022 Simplify Easter Checklist   

This blog post will walk you through three keys to make Easter 2022 meaningful. The checklist will give you the timeline to make this a reality for your church…regardless of the size of your church or the number of people on your staff. Remember, the more resources you have, the more you can do. But always choose quality over quantity.  

Making Easter 2022 Meaningful

So what can you do to make Easter 2022 a meaningful and impactful weekend for your church?

Establish What Success Looks Like

The very first thing you need to think about is what success would look like for your church. Nope, not anyone else’s church. Yours. 

Without an end goal in mind, we have no way to know where we’re going. Every time you take a road trip, you have a starting point and an end destination in mind. From there, a map will give you the directions on how to get there. 

The same principle applies here. If you establish what a successful Easter weekend will look like, or what you want the end result of the service to be, you can then reverse engineer the steps required to get there.  

What do you want to accomplish with your Easter service? What are your goals?

    • More first-time guests? 
    • To encourage infrequent attendees to become regular attendees? 
    • Salvations? 

Your goals can be anything, but the key is that you come up with a measurable result. If the goal cannot be measured, you have no way to know if you’ve accomplished it. Feelings and perceptions can be dangerous, especially when it comes to leadership. 

Think about the growth engines and the mission of your church. Do your Easter weekend goal(s) align with your church mission and vision? And are they realistic? It’s easy to want to do ALL the things, but with a limited budget and staff, you must be more selective and realistic about what your focus should be.  
 
We want to reach everyone with the message of the gospel, but usually if you’re trying to reach everyone, you’re reaching no one. If instead, you focused on reaching families with young children with your Easter weekend…then you would build your sermon, your promotions, and your activities around that demographic. You could offer a community Easter egg hunt, or have a special kids activity during the main service.  

Once you determine your focus and goals for the weekend, you’ll put together your sermon theme. Everything you plan for the weekend should revolve around this theme and your goals.

Make A Plan

This includes sharing the vision of the goal with your team. Your team may be just you and your wife or it may be a full staff of people, but either way you need to articulate it with someone else.

Side note: by sharing the goal, you may realize more details about the goal you hadn’t considered when working on it by yourself.

Once you’ve shared the end result plan, its time to figure out what you’re willing to do to get there.  This includes preparing a budget and plan.

Now the budget needs to be both monetary and commitment.  This involves how much you are willing to spend on tangibles, but also how much time you’re willing to allocate from yourself and your team.  There will be some involvement that has to occur and you cannot do this alone.

Once you have a plan of action and a team, work together to take bite-sized steps of action towards your goal. The checklist has suggested actions to take the four weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. Feel free to use these actions or create your own timeline and task list to set your church up for success.

Debrief After the Fact

Having a goal is great, and having an easy-to-follow plan will dramatically boost your effectiveness (and reduce the overwhelm you feel), but a true key to growing a healthy church is taking time after the fact to reflect, assess and debrief the weekend.  What went well? What were your key metrics? What can you learn from those numbers? Where did you struggle? And how can you learn from that experience?

Many leaders will tell you that the follow up (and follow through) is often just as important as the task or event itself. Be intentional about looking back with your team once Easter has passed and measure the results.  Find out which parts of your goal you achieved, and in what areas you may have fallen short.

Bonus: Take Time to Rest

I shared with you three keys to help you plan a meaningful Easter Sunday weekend in 2022. But I want to leave you with one last bonus tip to help you grow a healthy church. And that is to make sure you intentionally take time to rest.

It’s easy to let our schedules fill out, and to work hard in support of some very good goals. But one of the most important elements of a healthy leader is the ability to lead from a healthy place. And that involves taking times for rest, especially after a season of extra work. Planning for a big weekend like Easter can take a lot out of you as a pastor. You will need to rest and recharge to be able to maintain and sustain growth for your church.

Have You Downloaded The Simplify Easter Checklist Yet?

If not, here’s another link to the checklist. It will help you avoid last-minute stress and set your church up for maximum impact. 

Whatever you choose to do this Easter, know that we are here to support you in whatever way we can. We understand the challenges that come with doing ministry because we’ve been there. If you’re ready to focus on growing a healthy church, schedule a free discovery call. We’ve helped hundreds of small and growing churches optimize their church finances, and we’d love to do the same for you.

The Foundation of It All

Whatever you plan to do for Easter, we know you will cover everything in prayer. That’s the one part we didn’t mention first, hoping that was a given. The best thing you can do is start praying now for how God will lead your church into the Easter season. While we can make plans ourselves, the best ones are the plans that God lays on your heart.

We’re praying for your Easter service this year and know that God has big things in store for your church if you’re faithful to following His leading.

The Easter Opportunity: How to Create an Impactful Easter Service amid COVID-19

I’m sure you’ve checked your calendar and seen that Easter Sunday is a little over a week away.  

On Easter Sunday, most churches typically see a spike in attendance. For many churches, it is their most attended Sunday of the year. 

You may have been planning for your Easter service for weeks or months already. And now it’s time to throw out those plans and completely shift gears. 

But before you give up on reaching new people this Easter consider this:

  • More people are facing high levels of stress and anxiety right now
  • More people are feeling isolated right now
  • More people are actively looking for ways to deal with their stress and anxiety
  • More people are considering either their own mortality or the mortality of a loved one

They are looking for something that can bring them a sense of joy, hope and peace in a season of fear and uncertainty. 

This Easter, more than any other, more people are looking for what can only be found in Jesus Christ. 

In other words, the Easter opportunity still exists! 

Yes, you will need to completely rethink your strategy, but Easter is still a significant opportunity. I believe that if you choose to seize this moment, you’ll be amazed at what God can do through your church to reach people that might never otherwise darken the doors of a church. 

But You Must Seize the Easter moment.

By this I mean you cannot simply do “church” as normal (whatever that means anymore). You need a new plan to reach people on this particular Easter. 

So how do you prepare for an online Easter service in the middle a global pandemic that reaches MORE people for Jesus? 

BOOST AWARENESS

Your Goal: To get someone who is not connected to a church to watch your Easter service online. 

In many ways, this is much simpler than asking someone to get dressed up and drive to a building with a bunch of people they don’t know. They never have to leave home or even get out of their pajamas. They just need to know that you exist and that you have something that can help them out. 

Clarify Your Message

Let’s start with the second part – they need to know that you have something that can help them out.

Here’s the honest truth: If someone isn’t connected to a church, they won’t care about the story of your church, or even the story of Jesus. What they will care about is if what you have to offer can help them survive or thrive.

When you create content that invites people to watch your Easter service, keep this important fact in mind. Create content that addresses the pain you know people are in, and how you have a solution to that pain. And please don’t use “churchy” words. 

Before you sit down to write anything, pretend that you’re having a conversation with someone that has never been to church and has just lost their job due to economic impacts of COVID-19. What would you say to that person to get them to watch to your service?

Now create an inviting social media post based on that idea.

Encourage People to Share

Once you’ve thought through what you want to communicate, the next step is to let people know that you exist. The easiest way to boost awareness is to enlist the help of your current attenders. Create a post about your upcoming Easter service on your social media pages. Ask your current attenders to share your posts to their own pages. 

This works even better if instead of just hitting the “share” button, they add a personal anecdote about their experience with your church. 

Boost Your Visibility on Facebook

If you have some money in your budget, I’d recommend boosting your post as a Facebook and Instagram ad. Once you make a post on your Facebook page, you’ll see a “boost post” button. Click the button and Facebook will give you a series of options to promote your service. You can specify who you want your ad to appear to (such as people in your local area or friends of those who like your page), how long you want the ad to run, and how much you want to spend to reach people.

Engage with People on your Church Facebook Page

Begin now by posting regular content on your social media pages. This will help both keep your regular attenders connected and growing AND help engage new viewers with your content. Have someone from your church leadership team go live on Facebook each day for a daily dose of encouragement, or to share ideas for staying connected and growing spiritually.

Another idea is to create a holy week journey for your members with specific content, scriptures and prayer points posted daily in the week leading up to Easter Sunday.  

Encourage Members to Host a Facebook Watch Party on Easter Sunday 

A watch party is a co-watching video experience. A host creates a Facebook watch party and invites friends to join him or her. Everyone in a watch party watches the same moment in the video at the same time, and group members can comment on and react to the content in the video.

Let’s say you go live with your Easter service on your Facebook page. A member can navigate to the video, click share and choose the drop-down option “watch party.” From there the member can start a watch party on their own Facebook page or share it to a group page that they are a part of. 

The more your members interact with and post about your online service and personally invite friends to join them, the more people scrolling the Facebook news feed will see your service. 

PLAN YOUR EASTER SERVICE 

Your Goal: To get someone that watches your service to make contact with you  

Now is the time to begin planning your Easter service. As much as you want to equip and encourage your church members, choose this service and create it specifically for someone that may be tuning in for the first time. 

As I mentioned above, what makes people curious about what you have to say is the belief that it can help them survive or thrive. Build your entire service – your worship, your announcements, your message – around this idea. 

For example, if you begin by talking about the fact that we all have a sin problem, you’ve probably already lost your audience. 

However, if you begin by talking about the stress and anxiety people are currently feeling and the need to resolve these feelings, then you’ve aroused curiosity and your audience is open to hearing more.

Author Ray Edwards provides a simple outline that he calls the P.A.S.T.O.R. framework. While his book is specifically about communication, this framework is exactly what you as a pastor are called to do!

Here’s the framework:

P – Pain. Begin by meeting people where they are at. Talk about the pain they feel and the problems they face in terms they can relate to

A – Amplify. What is the cost of not solving this problem? 

S – Solution. What is the solution to this problem? 

T – Transformation. Share a story of a life that has experienced positive change due to solving the problem

O – Offer. Explain the solution being offered

R – Response. Ask for a response

I have a sign in my home that reads, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” 

You probably know that just because you ask for a response, it doesn’t mean someone is ready to make a response. On average someone needs to hear the gospel 7.2 times before they are ready to respond. But you will get a response more often than if you never asked for a response. 

But asking someone to make a choice to follow Jesus isn’t the only response you can ask for.

Think about a response in terms of building a relationship. You probably wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date. Instead, you might ask for a phone number or a second date.

So what is a logical next step to start building a relationship with that first-time viewer? Ideally you’d like to be able to reach out and start a dialogue.

As I mentioned in this post, every digital service should offer some type of digital connect card that people can fill out. You do not need fancy technology to make this happen! It can be as simple as posting a link to a free Google form you create.

You can encourage more people to fill out these forms by asking them to submit prayer requests that you will pray over. 

Or consider offering to donate a specific amount of money (e.g. $5) to your local food bank or some other COVID-19 response organization for every connection form that gets filled out.  

Another way to encourage a response, is by offering a free download that helps people further implement whatever you talked about in your message. This could be almost anything.

You could offer a prayer and meditation guide, or a list of people offering free online counseling, or a handout on how to rethink your budget in times of crisis, or a free ebook on overcoming fear. The possibilities are endless! 

For the next few weeks, you’ll need to be clear (and repetitive) about specific ways for people to plug into your digital community. Keep publishing encouraging content on your social media pages and keep seeking opportunities to connect with those who may be far from God. You might even consider starting a new preaching series on Easter and encourage people to come back the following week to hear the rest of the story.

PLAN YOUR FOLLOW UP

Your Goal: To turn a one-time viewer into a regular viewer and potential future visitor to your church.

I’ve talked with plenty of churches who theoretically had a “follow-up plan,” but their execution was lacking. Make sure you know: 

  • HOW you will follow up (text, email, card in the mail, etc)
  • WHO will follow up
  • WHAT TIME FRAME you will follow up

Last Christmas I was visiting family and we visited a local church on Christmas Eve (a Tuesday) because the service time worked well for our family. A few weeks went by and one morning I received an email from a church thanking me for “my visit last Sunday.” I knew that I had been at my home church the past Sunday and my first thought was, “Has someone been using my email address?” 

It took me a few moments to figure out that email was from the church we had visited on Christmas Eve. While I am glad that the church followed up, their follow up was neither timely (three weeks later) or accurate (I did not attend the past Sunday).

 I could make excuses for them and say that the person responsible for follow up was probably on vacation, but the truth is that their follow up would have been a lot more effective if they had simply tweaked their message and then either had someone else send the follow-up message or automated their follow up. 

A simple text or email might be the difference between someone never watching your service again and someone eventually becoming an active part of your congregation.

Services like Text In Church are designed to help you effectively follow up either through text or email. (Note: They are currently offering 60 days free for new members). 

A simple text or email might be the difference between someone never watching your service again or someone eventually becoming an active part of your congregation.

However you choose to follow up, your plan should include MORE THAN ONE touchpoint. The goal is to build a relationship over time. That does not mean rushing to a commitment, but rather cultivating curiosity that leads them to want to hear and learn more. 

FOLLOW THROUGH 

Now that you and your team have developed an intentional process for connecting new people to your church digitally, follow through with it.

Remember, you are creating open doors for new relationships. As with any relationship, getting to a place of trust will take time. You may get discouraged because this method is not nearly as simple as counting the number of visitors who attended on an Easter Sunday and then counting how many visitors returned for another visit.

But the door to reach MORE people who would not normally visit a church is open to you. And if you are faithful in the slow path of building relationships over time, you may be surprised at how many visitors you do get, once you can physically begin meeting together again.

But you must seize the opportunity! 

Be intentional and consistent in your planning, execution and your follow up. I can’t wait to hear how God works through your church in the coming weeks and months!

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