REV DOTSON LIVE: Your Opportunity at Easter

By Junius B. Dotson

Your Opportunity at Easter

We will celebrate Resurrection Sunday in just a few weeks, and that means you need to be preparing now to expand your opportunities for meaningful discipleship.

People will attend your church looking for a new beginning, a fresh start in their lives. Our prayer for those who are seeking Christ for the first time, are exploring or are returning after being gone for a while should echo the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to church at Ephesus:

“I pray that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in ... and that you will be able to feel and understand, how long, wide, deep and high His love really is, and to experience this love for yourselves.” (Eph. 3:16-19)

This is really the goal of discipleship.

As you prepare and implement your plans to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I want to offer three ways to ensure that you maximize the opportunity to help people begin a life-long journey with Jesus.

Emphasize the personal invitation

It’s true that 90 percent of the people who come to your church will come because they were personally invited.

Easter is one of the few Sundays a year where unchurched people are actually looking for a place to attend church. This means that there is even more fruit in the power of the personal invite. So we should mobilize our congregations by equipping them with invite tools.

Its true that 90 percent of the people who come to your church will come because they were personally invited.

It’s one thing to encourage members to invite others to church, but we can amplify those efforts with some simple tools. I’m sure you could gather a few people together and brainstorm a very creative list, but here are some ideas:

  • You can print invitations the size of a business card. A thousand of them will cost less than $10.
  • You can have handwritten invitations, using generic invitations just like you would use to invite persons to a graduation or a party.
  • You can give everyone Post-it® notes before worship and have them write down the names of persons they want to invite. Then place the notes on walls in the sanctuary and pray for those persons daily.
  • You can utilize social media tools to send invitations to friends and followers.

Here’s the leadership principle to remember: Discipleship begins with relationship.

Make sure the very act of extending an invitation is an opportunity for spiritual formation. Set aside time in worship for members to list the names of persons they are inviting. Or if you are sending out invitations, you can host a party for people to hand write their invitations and then have a time of intentional prayer for every person you are inviting to church.

Dedicate a day for simply fasting and praying for every invitation that gets extended in the life of your community.

Start new things

The second thing I would invite you to do is to start new things.

People rarely join existing groups, but they are open to new ones. So Easter represents an unmatched opportunity to start new groups or for existing groups to announce a new study topic. If you are considering a new ministry, this is the perfect season to launch it.

People rarely join existing groups, but they are open to new ones. So Easter represents an unmatched opportunity to start new groups or for existing groups to announce a new study topic.

The leadership principle here is that intentional discipleship must create.

Our intentional discipleship system must create opportunities for people to begin anew. You can release a lot of energy in starting new things. The very process of examining existing ministries and groups with an expectation that new people are coming can unleash new creativity. Start with the “why” and see what happens when you start dreaming anew about reconnecting and engaging with new people.

Ask for commitment

The third thing I would invite you to do is ask for commitment.

Leaders often are afraid of scaring people off, or they falsely believe that it’s too soon to ask people for a commitment at Easter. I believe it’s the perfect opportunity to communicate with people who are walking towards you, rather than away from you.

I believe our faith and how we are growing and maturing in Christ as leaders deeply affects how we ask for a commitment. Remember, you are inviting people into a life-changing relationship with Christ. The key is that we simply want to be invitational. Your joy and enthusiasm as a leader will surely be contagious.

The leadership principle here is that people are very interested in next steps.

People want to know what’s next, and that includes how to grow spiritually in their lives.

There are various levels of commitment. If you are starting a new series, ask for a commitment of at least two weeks. Clearly share what the new series is about and how this new series will impact their lives. Simply say, “I want to invite you to commit for the next two weeks. And if you commit for two weeks, I believe it’s going to make a significant difference in your life.”

If you are offering an explorers class or new Bible study – or maybe an existing Bible study is going to be changing topics – you might say something like, “Here are a few ways you can grow spiritually in the life of this congregation this week.” Name them and then invite people to commit to one of those opportunities – to take a next step.

If you have a clear discipleship system or pathway, take the time to invite people to begin that journey. Remember, it’s all about discipleship.

We’re celebrating the greatest event in the history of the world. Jesus rose from the dead. We celebrate His resurrection. That’s such an awesome time to invite people on a life-long journey into this relationship with a God who cares for them and wants to be in relationship with them.

When the Easter celebration is over don’t forget to thank God for the vision of your future. The gathered community on Easter Sunday is a glimpse of the potential your church has to reach people in your community.

I am praying that this Easter changes everything for you personally and for your church. In the words of the apostle Paul, "I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him. The same mighty power that raise Jesus Christ from the dead."