A massive 43% of people believe in the resurrection, but most do not realise that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to each of us today. Easter presents churches with an amazing opportunity to help our friends and family to discover who Jesus is, why he died, and what the resurrection could mean for them.
Church attendance nearly doubles at Easter. There’s time for reflection and celebration, but often we are preaching to the converted. Easter offers a major mission moment and, by making a few minor changes, Easter could become the start of the Christian journey for hundreds of people in your community.
That’s HOPE’s dream, so we are providing churches with something to give, something to say and an invitation to offer. The aim is that every Christian is equipped to help friends and family members to discover for themselves what Easter means.
First pray! Pray that the presence of Jesus by His Spirit will be in your Easter Sunday worship. Whatever your style and tradition, pray that the people who join your Easter services will encounter the living God. Ask each person in the congregation and in your home groups to be praying for five friends or family members – people who aren’t yet followers of Jesus – and to look for specific opportunities to invite these five people to an Easter service. People don’t come if they are not invited, and a personal invitation is key. You could print invitation cards to make this as easy as possible.
Second, plan your Easter services to be guest-friendly. Whatever your style, are the songs singable and are the words accessible? If you give guests an order of service, consider adding a friendly footnote to explain what the words mean. For example, the much-loved Easter hymn ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today’ includes the lines ‘Suffer to redeem our loss’, ‘Sinners to redeem and save’ and ‘Our salvation hath procured’. You could add a short explanation such as: ‘The words ‘redeem’ and ‘procured’ indicate that Jesus’ death was costly. It cost Jesus everything to make it possible for us to know God and his love for us. He died so that we can have a fresh start – a new life with him forever. At Easter we are celebrating the resurrection – the fact that Jesus’ death was not the end. That same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to each of us today.
Thirdly, promote the Easter services with posters and also on social media, giving the church address and time of the Easter guest service. Encourage members of the congregation who use Facebook or Twitter to share the invitation. Think about what people need to know if they’ve never been to your church. Do they have to wear special clothes? Will children be welcome? What about people with disabilities?
Something to give
What about an Easter give-away in a local shopping centre on Easter Saturday to publicise your Easter guest service? Some churches give away hot cross buns or mini Easter eggs door to door. This year you could give HOPE’s new book ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ with an invitation to find out more at your Easter service. One village church is distributing an Easter invitation to every home in the parish, with the promise of ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ as a gift to every guest at the Easter service.
Something to say
The book ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ explains how we can be sure that Jesus is a real person who lived in the Middle East 2,000 years ago. It also includes testimonies from Jesus’ followers whose lives have been changed by him. The book is an ideal conversation starter with the five friends you are praying for. There’s also a free four-minute film to show in your Easter guest service with clips from interviews and footage shot in Israel to accompany the book. The Easter Sunday sermon doesn’t need to be an apologetic, but should invite people to experience the resurrection – to encounter this Jesus for themselves.
An invitation to offer
Think in advance of Easter Sunday what steps could newcomers take to become fully integrated into your church? HOPE is offering three taster sessions from the new Life Explored course. Invite guests to an informal cake and coffee event to watch the short discussion starter, or encourage home groups to host one of the three sessions.
To find out more, order the book, download the film or the course visit EasterHope.org.uk