MAKING THE MOST OF EASTER:

Working Strategically To Maximize Results

March 13, 2017

THREE QUESTIONS WE NEED TO ANSWER:

  • Why do we want to have a BIG Easter?
  • What does a BIG Easter look like?
  • How do we have a BIG Easter?

WHY HAVE A BIG EASTER?

  • Paul - “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Ephesians 5:16-17)
  • Easter represents our best opportunity to have asymmetrically BIG results.
  • Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday) represents what is perhaps the most significant Christian holiday of the year.
  • Churched and non-churched guests are more likely to attend church on Easter Sunday than any other day of the year.
  • Church members are more motivated to volunteer and invite for Easter than at any other time of the year.
  • A BIG Easter casts vision for what our churches can become.

Annual Easter Attendances At Celebration Church - St. Bernard Campus

Year

Pre-Easter Average

Easter Attendance

End Of Year Average

2009

110

206

140

2010

160

325

170

2011

230

412

178

2012

200

547

253

2013

243

628

386

2014

342

770

380

2015

362

935

493

2016

485

1380

484

  • A BIG Easter will rally and excite Volunteers and Leaders.
  • A BIG evangelistic harvest can take place on Easter.

WHAT DOES A BIG EASTER LOOK LIKE?

  • Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” (Acts 2:47)
  • Question: What would it look like at your church if the fullness of the power of God met the fullness of the efforts of man?
  • Practical questions to consider:
  • If you successfully doubled your weekend attendance, would there be room for everyone?
  • Is it possible to add worship services to your usual line-up?
  • What is your long-term growth vision for your church?
  • What was your attendance like last Easter?
  • Who do we specifically want to reach?
  • What is a challenging but reasonable goal for your end-of-year attendance?
  • What goals/results do you want to measure besides Worship Attendance?
  • Professions of Faith?
  • First Time Guests?
  • What long-term strategic goals/results do you want to accomplish?
  • Guest retention?
  • Assimilation and Discipleship of Professions Of Faith?

2016 St. Bernard Campus Easter and Retention Goals v. Actual

Pre-Easter Average

Easter goal

2nd week goal

Mother’s Day

Goal

N/A

1150

530

550

Actual

485

1380

540

582

HOW DO WE HAVE A BIG EASTER?

  • Let’s start by defining our goal:
  • This Easter, we want to accomplish:
  • Generating a BIG attendance (double our average weekend attendance)
  • Providing an experience that encourages people to come back to church
  • Share the Gospel in a powerful and relevant way, and ultimately win souls for the Kingdom

PHASES OF HAVING A BIG EASTER

PHASE 1: PLANNING

  • Most of us will not be able to double our weekend attendance by simply praying harder and trying harder.
  • At Celebration, we usually begin planning Easter roughly 14-16 weeks out from Easter.
  • The most critical resource you have in planning a BIG Easter is time.
  • At Celebration, we develop specific, interdependent strategies for:
  • Event(s)
  • Each year, before we can do anything, we have to have a rough idea of how we will approach Easter. This tends to be driven by: 1) reflections from the previous year, 2) new ideas that we think of and pray on through the year, and 3) creative brainstorming with our staff.
  • We generally plan 2 types of events:
  • Worship Services - worship services that we have intentionally scheduled and planned to maximize our reaching capabilities.
  • For instance, we stay away from sunrise services because it has a limited reaching capability.
  • REACH Events
  • These are a-typical events that can take place in the worship service, before/after a worship service, or completely detached from a worship service.
  • Examples: Easter festival, cook out, block party, egg hunt, concert, etc.
  • At the St. Bernard Campus, we’ve experimented with several types of events and worship services. When we launched in 2007, we hosted an Easter Festival with Egg hunt on the Saturday of Easter weekend, and had our Grand Opening the day after on Easter Sunday. In 2017, we will host 8 worship services over 5 days with 3 special events, all of which are connected to a specific worship service.
  • Prayer
  • Building a Prayer Strategy and/or Team is too simple to not do.
  • This is about building a plan for praying for Easter that is accessible to everyone in your church and sustainable through Easter.
  • At the St. Bernard Campus, we focus on praying for Easter in our weekly Life Groups (small groups). Also, we have Life Group members write down the names of their FRAN (Friends, Relatives, Associates, Neighbors) for the purpose of praying and inviting them for Easter. Staff and Prayer Team members pray over the FRAN names submitted through Life Groups. 11 days prior to Easter Sunday, we host a Prayer and Worship Night focused on praying for Easter and FRAN names. Finally, we attempt to staff each service with one or two people praying during the service.
  • Vision Casting
  • The reason time is a critical resource is because it either enables or limits your ability to cast vision depending on how much you have.
  • Having the BIGgest Easter possible really depends on a Pastor’s ability to align everyone around the vision of having a BIG Easter.
  • It is helpful to cast vision from the top down as early as possible.
  • At the St. Bernard Campus, we began talking with our staff about Easter in December prior to Christmas. We began talking with our Lay-Leaders about Easter in early January, and did a full vision casting in February. This helped us ensure that when we took time in March to tell them what needed to be done, they were already bought-in and excited. We then spend 4-6 weeks prior to Easter telling our congregation how important it is to invite people and serve in our Easter services, knowing that it will be validated by the attitudes and actions of our Life Group Leaders.
  • Promotion/Marketing
  • Generally, successful promotion and marketing depends upon how many people at your church have effectively embraced the vision.
  • Marketing is most successful when it validates a personal invitation from someone in the congregation.
  • At the St. Bernard Campus, we use the following marketing strategy:
  • We mail out to a database of 12,000. Cost = $1500.
  • We order 10,000 postcards to distribute to our congregation for inviting purposes, and to personally place on doors in the community.
  • We place 2 4’ x 8’ signs in from of our facility advertising Easter service times, or directing people to our website.
  • We also rely heavily on encouraging our members to personally invite their FRAN to Easter services.
  • Volunteer Recruitment
  • Assess the gap between the number of volunteers you will need and the number of volunteers you currently have; develop a strategy to close the gap. For instance:
  • Hold a Volunteer Fair following worship services one weekend.
  • Place a Volunteer sign-up form at a central location and promote it during the worship service.
  • Leverage leaders to do shoulder-tapping.
  • Consider what, if any, additional volunteer positions/teams may be needed. For instance:
  • Refreshments - You may decide to set out more refreshments than usual; more refreshments usually require more volunteers.
  • Parkers - If you think the parking lot might fill up on Easter, consider having some volunteers fill spaces in an orderly manner to maximize space, and also direct people to overflow parking places. Also, Parkers serve as a friendly face to guests on their way inside.
  • Greeters - The task of greeting guests who arrive for Easter services may be one of the most important tasks of the entire Easter weekend. You will want people who are fresh and eager to serve.
  • Follow-up
  • While you don’t have to nail down every part of your follow-up plan before initiating the following phases of Easter, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how you intend to follow-up with guests from Easter. In your planning phase, begin addressing the following questions:
  • How will we identify guests?
  • How will we follow-up with guests?
  • What specific elements of the worship service will encourage guests to come back?
  • What post-Easter events can we leverage guests toward?
  • Critical Milestones In The Planning Phase:
  • Establishing Goals
  • Establishing An Event/Service Schedule
  • Establishing A Preparation Timeline
  • What will be your deadline for casting vision?
  • What will be your deadline for distributing Marketing materials?
  • What will be your deadline for lining up event(s) resources?
  • What will be your deadline for recruiting volunteers?

PHASE 2: PREPARATION

  • The Preparation Stage begins as soon as the Planning Stage is complete.
  • If you begin preparing before your plan is complete, then you risk running an incomplete plan.
  • The Preparation Stage reflects a shift from thinking to doing, particularly regarding:
  • Volunteer Recruitment
  • Offer training for any/all positions that will require training. I would venture to say that all positions require at least some level of preparation and equipping. There are a variety of ways that you can offer this training:
  • Online - If you possess the means to make training materials accessible and practical online, that’s a very efficient means to use.
  • Ride-along - If you lack prepared training materials for volunteers, you can train potential volunteers by having them serve with someone else currently in that volunteer position. Make sure you prepare the trainer and the trainee in advance.
  • Training Event - Another option is to host training sessions/events. When coupled with refreshments, you can actually use this event to recruit volunteers.
  • Remember that Easter is a great opportunity to find long-term volunteers and key leaders hiding in the congregation.
  • Logistics Management
  • Purchases and Rentals
  • Worship Service Planning
  • Communicating Expectations to Volunteers
  • When will volunteers need to arrive?
  • Where will they need to park?
  • How will they need to be dressed?
  • Critical Milestones In The Preparation Phase:
  • Volunteer positions have been filled.
  • Volunteers have been trained.
  • All necessary equipment/goods have been ordered.
  • All necessary equipment/goods have been delivered.
  • Every volunteer in every position has received specific instructions concerning expectations for Easter weekend.

PHASE 3: EXECUTION

  • Follow-up begins during the worship service. Pray like everything depends on God; work like everything depends on you.
  • Rules for Ministry Staff on Easter Weekend:
  • Arrive First
  • Park Farthest
  • Know Your Role, Know Your Material
  • Be Energetic
  • Thank Volunteers Wherever You See Them Serve
  • Go Out Of Your Way To Greet Guests
  • Make Every Minute Count

PHASE 4: FOLLOW-UP

  • It’s tempting to coast following Easter, but you risk losing all the ground gained with Easter.
  • Some things to keep in mind for follow-up:
  • Communication Cards
  • How can you maximize the effectiveness of your “Communication Card” in obtaining information from guests?
  • Offer an incentive?
  • Mention multiple times during the service.
  • Offer multiple hooks.
  • Determine the best time in the service to receive “Communication Cards.”
  • Timeliness
  • Try and follow-up with each guest within 48 hours of attending (via phone or text).
  • Mail each guest within 4 days of attending. Make sure you mention the next event you want them to attend.
  • Follow-up Events/Activities
  • Leverage events/activities that will be compelling for a broad, diverse set of people.
  • Focus on efficiency - more small events rather than one huge event.
  • Make sure to have events that are going to help assimilate guests:
  • Membership Classes
  • Discipleship Classes or Small Group Connection Opportunities
  • Baptism Events
  • At the St. Bernard Campus, we will be offering the following events following Easter:
  • 4/22-23 - Donut Weekend
  • 4/29-30 - Star-Faith Kidztown Comeback Weekend
  • 4/29 - Crawfish Boil
  • 5/5-6 - Aspire Conference
  • 5/7 - Crossroads NOLA Foster Care Lunch
  • 5/14 - Mothers’ Day Weekend
  • 5/21 - I Want To Know Membership Class
  • 5/27-28 - Graduate Recognition

PHASE 5: EVALUATION

  • It’s critical to meet with staff and leaders shortly following Easter to conduct evaluation while memories of Easter are still fresh.
  • Use simple categories like Good, Bad, Ugly, or Worked, Didn’t Work, Was-Amazing, or Never-Do-Again. 

For an electronic copy of these notes, scan the following with a QR Reader App on your smartphone:


Patrick Eagan

-Executive Pastor of Multi-site

-St. Bernard Campus Pastor

Phone: 504.858.0537

Email: patricke@celebrationchurch.org