I hope your church Easter experience was as great as mine: higher attendance, lost sheep coming home, the energy and excitement of a full house. The unfortunate historical reality is that the high attendance on Easter is usually a small blip in an otherwise declining trend in church attendance (read about The Easter Hangover here).
Why don’t all the Easter guests turn into regular attenders and members? While we can blame it on their spiritual apathy, we as the church hold some responsibility as well. Many times, guests don’t come back the following week because they were reminded on Easter why they don’t normally attend. There are a lot of things that churches knowingly did right on Easter, but here are three common mistakes that too many churches probably made:
1. Churches allowed the pageantry of the celebration to detract from the audacity of the event itself. Celebrating the resurrection is the whole point of Easter, but we can get so caught up in the pomp and circumstance that it can make the historical event itself seem more like a fable or legend. Focus on the wonder of the event, the almost unbelievability of a man rising from the dead. This gives this audacious event much more authenticity in the minds and hearts of the hearers.
3. Churches failed to give people a reason to come back next week. If (as advertised) the Easter celebration is the most important celebration in all of Christendom, then what compelling reason do people have to come back the following week? If they got the most important thing, then aren’t the other weeks simply anti-climactic? Churches need to do a strategic job of giving a clear and compelling reason for people to come back on a regular basis. (For instance, at our church I used the end of my Easter message to promote the next sermon series we’re launching the following week on The One Thing that people need to know from Scripture about four key areas of their lives).
As I stated at the beginning, I hope your Easter was as joyous and hope-filled as mine. But more than that, I hope your church was strategic in attempting to turn your Easter crowd in a more regularly attending congregation.