I recently attended an event in which we were divided into small groups. In this setting, we shared a portion of our journey in Christian faith. One participant said, "I used to be a C.M.E. Christian — you know, I attended church on Christmas, Mother's Day, and Easter."
Is Your Church Ready for C.M.E. People?
Prepare the congregation to receive guests. Pray for people to come on Easter. Pray for extraordinary hospitality.
- Invite people to organize into small prayer groups to pray for God to draw people to church this Easter.
- This Sunday, give the people in attendance a computer generated invitation. The invitation is to invite the congregation to pray specifically about persons whom they should personally invite to church on Easter.
- Ask people to pray about ways to personally demonstrate hospitality. Invite those in charge of music and worship to participate in hospitality:
- Offer a special welcome song for visitors sung by the choir or a praise team.
- Instruct greeters to develop personal greetings. For example, "Welcome to First United Methodist Church. I'm Jerry., I don't think I know your name" instead of, "Are you a visitor?" As an added touch, some churches share a fresh rose, carnation, or other flower with visitors as a token of Christian love.
- Give visitors a helpful spiritual resource, such as a pocket devotional book.
- Design a visitor-friendly worship bulletin devoid of "insider Christianese language." For example, spell out United Methodist Hymnal rather than listing UMH. Write "Glory to God" rather than "Gloria Patri."
- Some churches give away the Easter lilies that decorate the sanctuary to visitors or to the non-members in the community who are sick and shut-in or in nursing homes.
- Make sure there is clear signage that directs people to the entrance to your sanctuary. This includes signs from the parking lot as well as inside the building. Also make sure there are clear signs to restrooms and nursery facilities.
Invite, Invite, Invite.
Ask a member of your congregation to generate business-card sized invitations to your Easter worship for people to pass out as an outward expression of their prayers. Explain to the congregation that the best invitations to come to church come from personal acquaintances. Include the children; encourage them to invite their friends.
Contact previous visitors by mail or phone to invite them to attend Easter worship services.
Make sure the outside church sign clearly indicates that this is Easter Sunday with the worship times listed. Saying, "Easter Sunday" may have more impact than a sermon title. Some churches invest in a large banner inviting people to Easter Sunday worship.
Preach with the Next Month in Mind.
Some pastors intentionally announce that a sermon series on some provocative topic will begin the Sunday following a major holiday like Easter. This year, a provocative series might be "Jesus was an Immigrant" or "God's Security Plan" or "Money, Sex, and Lies: When Temptation Seems Too Great."
Preach a Clear Easter Message.
Pastors often tire of telling the Easter story — again. Keep in mind, however, that some people may actually "hear" the story spiritually for the first time. Make sure to share the Easter story with clarity and passion so that people can visualize what Christ has done for us.
- "The Annual Easter Challenge"
- Confronting the Controversies: Biblical Perspectives on Tough Issues
- Leading Beyond the Walls: Developing Congregations with a Heart for the Unchurched
- Radical Outreach: Recovery of Apostolic Ministry and Evangelism
- Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them