Here it comes again—the largest attendance weekend of the year for American churches—Easter. Knowing that your worship services will be flooded with guests later this month may have turned your thoughts to reaching out to them. Here is the top 10 list of best Easter outreach ideas for churches from Church Central and the Society for Church Consulting:
10. Hide Easter eggs
While there is no real Christian correlation to this traditional frolic for the kids, there’s no reason a church can’t sponsor the annual event, or partner with local governments or civic associations to host it. An egg hunt may be the perfect way for your church to take the first step toward people in your community. According to the Church Health Encyclopedia, intentionally planned special events are a great way to introduce people in your area to your church.
9. Put up a new sign
You’ve driven by your church thousands of times. You know where it is. You know what time the services are each weekend. So you may be unaware that your church doesn’t stand out to people who are unfamiliar with it. Consider putting up a large, welcoming banner for Easter, indicating service times, and a way to access more information. Use a font large enough and legible enough to be read from a distance and at the speed limit of the streets around your building.
8. Awaken evangelistic passion
The Church Health Encyclopedia indicates that churches interested in outreach should "create an awareness of the need" in their own congregation. Let your church know about the number of unchurched people in your area by studying your community’s demographics. Then create more awareness about Jesus’ directive for believers to make new disciples.
7. Talk to people you know
New research this month from Lifeway indicates that most people would be "somewhat or very willing" to receive information about Jesus by talking with someone they know. Some 63 percent of people polled indicated they would hear this sort of message in a "personal conversation with a family member," or with a friend or neighbor from the church (56 percent).
Lifeway Research director Ed Stetzer told USA Today that the latest statistics should prompt believers to realize that "the unbelievers next door still need a simple, personal invitation to talk, to be in community, and church."
6. Don’t visit people you don’t know
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons may be the least popular people at Americans’ front doors. The same Lifeway research proves that visiting door-to-door is the least favorable way to talk to people about Christ or your church.
5. Don’t advertise
Equally as ineffective, again, according to Lifeway Research, is advertising. While between 40-46 percent of people surveyed indicated they would be willing to receive church or Christian ads via newspaper, radio, television, outdoor advertising and letters mailed to the home, less than 10 percent think such ads would be very effective in getting them or others to visit a church. Save your money—or put it where your mouth is, so to speak, and go talk to people you know. Tell your congregation to talk to people they know.
4. Meet needs in the community
Whether your church organizes quarterly food drives, neighborhood cleanups, or integrates community outreach year-round by encouraging members to volunteer in Meals on Wheels programs, local schools or other efforts, spreading the love of Christ into your area to meet needs is simply part of following Jesus. Ideally, this type of outreach will also increase your visitor numbers. More importantly, it may correlate to a much healthier congregation any time of year.
3. Welcome outsiders
This seems obvious. But the fact remains that most churches think they are friendly when they are really only friendly to the people they already know. Creating a church-wide ethos of welcoming anyone and everyone, i.e., smiling, shaking hands, greeting people, showing hospitality with directions, food and beverages, all go a long way in making newcomers want to come back.
Organized prayer times for your congregation will awaken their passion for evangelism and making disciples. Asking God to bring people in need to your church this Easter is a petition any church would be well-served to present. One church in my community is organizing 24 hours of prayer on Good Friday, with 30-minute time slots filled by praying volunteers. On the prayer agenda: people who need Jesus.
1. Tell the Easter story
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the main difference between Christianity and other religions. It’s also the ultimate message of hope and transcendence. Tell it again.