Churches shared out-of-the-box thinking for communicating the transformational message of the cross. Here are their ideas:
PRE-EASTER: INVITING YOUR COMMUNITY
1. Easter kindness. Easter is often more inwardly focused than Christmas and Thanksgiving. This year, mark Easter weekend with a significant act of service to your community (restore hiking trails, host a dinner for the homeless and underprivileged, hold a blood drive, run a 10K for a local women’s shelter, etc.) and invite your community to join with your church.
2. Easter signs. In cities where increasing restrictions are affecting public signage, creative churches are using silk-screened, corrugated plastic yard signs. Planted on church members’ front lawns, the signs invite neighbors to Easter services and church outreach events.
3. One card. One guest. Hand out printed invitations to Easter worship services to all of your regular attendees. Ask them to pray for one person God is leading them to invite. Members either mail or hand-deliver the invitations to those people they’ve been praying for.
4. Palm Sunday reflection. The Sunday before Easter, invite your community to join you for a meaningful time of spiritual reflection. Consider creating sacred spaces that guide people through the events leading up to the cross. It helps prepare people mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the Holy Week. You may want to borrow from the liturgy of other churches to help create the sacred environment.
5. Email invitations. In addition to direct mail, signage, fliers and other materials, promote your Easter service with an e-card that can easily be forwarded along with a personal note from your members.
6. Spring cleanup. The week before Easter, host a huge, community-wide garage sale to benefit a local charity or cause. Offer a tax receipt to any donors and even offer to pick up larger items. Make it a fun community event by providing food, music and fliers promoting your church’s Easter week activities.
7. Egg-vitations. The Sunday before Easter, give children 10 plastic eggs with candy and an invitation for their friends and families to attend the Easter service. It is great to see children involved as inviters.
8. Last Supper re-enactment. Attract art appreciators to a Maundy Thursday drama of the scene, using Scripture as a script and DaVinci’s painting for costume and backdrop inspiration.
9. Artists at the Foot of the Cross gallery. Turn a multipurpose room into a gallery of crucifixion art, poetry and music created by people of all ages. Invite the community to participate.
10. Easter Parade to go. Contact a local senior center or assisted living community and asked if your church may bring residents a nostalgic evening of the Irving Berlin classic film, popcorn and lemonade.
11. Messiah Live! Host an evening of live orchestra presenting Handel’s oratorio. Engage your city’s orchestra.
12. Free car wash. Organize a car wash free of charge with no strings attached. Just leave a small Easter card with your church’s Easter worship activities in each vehicle.
13. Community humility. Participate in a community-wide Easter service held at a large local venue, like a school stadium. Bring together pastors from various denominations to plan, pray, share ideas and divide the workload and costs.
14. Easter road show. Instead of putting all your resources into a large Easter church service, develop a team that can conduct Easter services—even a children’s service featuring an egg hunt—at locations around your community. Housing projects, senior citizen developments, trailer parks, etc., are good places to start. You’ll hit “low mobility” individuals and families who might never have the chance to visit your church and hear the Gospel.
15. Appreciation Easter lilies. Instead of spending money for Easter lilies to decorate the church, purchase lilies as a donation to local businesses, hospitals, law enforcement, schools, etc. Attach a small sign or tag from your church, “With appreciation during this Easter season.”
16. Resurrection Run. Hold a Resurrection Run motorcycle rally each year and invite motorcycle enthusiasts from the community to participate.
17. Easter labyrinth. On Easter, promote a labyrinth experience featuring stations of the cross. Even unbelievers are interested in a spiritual experience that helps them learn about the true significance of Easter.
18. The empty egg. Offer a community-wide Easter egg hunt that involves several avenues to share the Gospel. From puppet ministry to a worship band, to sharing the parable of the empty egg (representing the empty tomb), you can use this event to introduce the community to Christ and invite them to Easter services.
19. Appreciation gift. Offer a free gift like an inexpensive Max Lucado book to the first 50 families who come to your service.
20. Canned food donations. Encourage everyone who attends your Easter service to bring canned food for a local food bank. Seeing the church serve others can offer unbelievers a different view of the church and ultimately cause them to be more open to hearing the Gospel.
21. Cross connection. Use the tradition of a flower cross at Easter. Buy hundreds of carnations and during the response time, invite people to place a flower in a large wooden cross framed with chicken wire.
22. The World’s Biggest Easter Egg Hunt. The week before Easter, advertise a huge event called something like “The World’s Biggest Easter Egg Hunt.” Include inflatables, games, food, door prizes, free Bibles and music at the event. It makes it easy to invite the community back the next week for Easter services.
23. Neutral location. Instead of holding services at your church, schedule them at a neutral location. One church uses a flower ranch located on the property of one of their members and draws many unbelievers each year.
24. Celebrity connection. Engage your community by inviting a local Christian “celebrity” to participate in your Easter service. Ask the mayor to narrate your Easter musical; invite a sports figure to share his or her testimony; ask the local pageant queen to sing; or invite a local disc jockey or news anchor to participate in a reader’s theater.
25. Baskets benefit. Collect Easter gift baskets from local businesses and church members for a silent auction, benefiting a local charity.
26. Easter photos. On Easter Sunday, give guests free family photos. Enlist a photographer, set up a spring backdrop and give each person a card with a link to download their pictures.
27. Visual aid. Build or purchase a large wooden cross and place it at the front. Early in Easter worship service, explain the cross’ significance.
28. Children’s musical. Never underestimate the power of a children’s musical or drama. Not only are children remarkably capable of presenting the Gospel in a compelling way, but parents, grandparents and friends who might otherwise never set foot in a church will come with cameras in hand.
29. Sermon on CD. Make the Easter sermon available free of charge to guests. On the CD cover, list the upcoming message series and topics that will be covered.
29. Love Jars. Fill canning jars called “Love Jars” with brownie mix, attractively layered, sealed with a lid and covered with seasonal fabric. Then make a personal visit to the home of each of Easter visitor. Make it a nonthreatening, non-preachy visit that simply says, “We’re glad you came…. hope to see you again.”
30. Spring family festival. Follow up Easter Sunday with a spring family festival. Give the kids carnival tickets stapled to their Easter egg bags to use for rides and games. It’s a strong motivator that turns an Easter-only visit into at least two visits. A barbecue and outreach-oriented message series give parents a reason to return as well.
Written by Lindy Lowry.
Outreach Magazinewww.outreachmagazine.comOutreach magazine provides fascinating stories, field-tested ideas, and insights for effective church outreach. Awarded both secular and Christian recognition for excellence in content and presentation, Outreach magazine serves as a fresh stream of practical resources and tactics for pastors, lay leaders, and ministers in all areas. Outreach magazine also publishes the widely sought Outreach 100 issue, annually featuring the top 100 largest and fastest growing churches in America. Personalities featured on the cover of past issues include Erwin McManus, Franklin Graham, Josh McDowell, Dan Kimball, Francis Chan, Ravi Zacharias, and others.