Friday, April 14, 2006

Holy Week (Friday) – Don’t Panic!!

God is in control. The Easter services will be great. The Holy Spirit is already working in the hearts of those who will attend your church’s services. Hearts and lives will be changed!

PS – For those who have a “children’s sermon” time… DO NOT mention that there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny. I made that mistake one time—never again!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Holy Week (Thursday, part 2) – Passover Seder!!

Invite the pastor of a Messianic congregation to lead your church through the Passover Seder. Thursday night we had a fabulous time gathering for the Seder meal. The order of the service is called the Haggadah. Let me know if you would like a copy.

Next year we will probably celebrate the Seder in home groupings-like the Jews.

Holy Week (Thursday) – Pray!!

Pray! Pray!! Pray!!! Pray!!!!

Prayer is the most important thing we can do for those who would be considering a visit to our churches on Easter. We may not know their names—but God does!

Remember… the enemy does not want these folks in church. He will use any and all distractions to keep them away. For those going to church, he will try to minimize the impact through distraction, attitude and fear.

Things we might pray for:

  1. That God would place in them an unquenchable desire to be in worship on Easter weekend.
  2. That they would remember to set the alarm clock.
  3. That their preparations for leaving the house and going to church would go smoothly.
  4. That the Holy Spirit would be protecting them throughout the day.
  5. That they would have a positive impression of the church from the time they first pull onto the property.
  6. That they will be welcomed by caring people.
  7. That they will sit next to friendly, welcoming people.
  8. That they will feel the presence of the living God.
  9. That they will leave the church different than when they arrived.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Holy Week (Wednesday) – Extend the Invitation

Previously we looked at possible ways to positively impact a visitor to church before the service begins. Both of the previous posts assume that there will be visitors to our churches on Easter. But will they actually be there? What are our churches, you and I going to do to increase the probability of visitors being present?

A caveat: Every church is in a different context. A workable idea for one church may be a waste of time for another church. Our church is located in a rural area (not in any town). We are 3.5 miles from new subdivision upon new subdivision. There is no “local” newspaper (the paper serving Tacoma is the most widely read) or radio station.

Advertise--Buy the biggest and best ad your church can afford! The ad needs to be in color. It needs to catch the eye of the reader. We have purchased a fairly large, full color ad to run in all of the surrounding papers on two different days during Holy Week. Will it draw anyone to the church? Only God knows. But this I do know… if we don’t advertise we most certainly will to reach the thousands who are moving into the area.

Personal Invitation--Ask someone to worship! This is always the best way. It is also the scariest! Many are hesitant to invite their friends to church. Some are shy about their faith. Others are worried that their friends will have a negative impression of the church based on music, the pastor, the message, etc. We need to invite people to church. We need to encourage our regular attenders to invite people to church. Invite… invite… invite…

These are just two things that we can do this week as we approach Easter. I am confident that those of you out there will have even better ideas.

What is your church doing this year? What are other possibilities you might consider trying? Please post your ideas and comments.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Holy Week (Tuesday) – What’s a “Prelude?”

Church’s speak a foreign language! A visitor might ask, “What the heck is a prelude?” or, “Is the anthem like our nation anthem?” We ASSUME that our visitors know the lingo of our church. WRONG ASSUMPTION! How would you feel if you were invited to someone’s home for dinner and the periodically talked amongst themselves in a language you didn’t understand? That is what our churches do every Sunday! It is time we think seriously about how our worship services begin.

We use to have no music until the pianist played the one-song prelude. We now have “Music Welcoming Us to Worship.” Worship music is played through the sound system for twenty minutes as people arrive. The pianist plays one song just prior to the start of worship.

For Easter, our choir director wanted the choir to process into the sanctuary singing an Easter anthem to begin worship. We have a wonderful choir for a church our size. Most choirs have a difficult time staying on key and in time while processing. After all, the vocalists are a LONG way away from the piano. Do we want the first thing that God and our visitors hear to be out of tune and not in time? Aren’t we suppose to give God our best?

Well, our choir will begin worship singing that wonderful song from the front of the sanctuary. We will be giving God our very best… and it will sound better!

Holy Week (Monday) – Church Preparation

Easter is almost here. The day that changed all of eternity will soon be here. The good news of the resurrection transforms lives. People can experience a relationship with God because of our Lord Jesus.

Challenge: Every church is surrounded by multitudes who are not Christ-followers ( I heard Bill Hybels use this instead of “Christian.” “Christian” in our culture has basically no set meaning.) . They will have a crisis in eternity if their life does not change directions. So… what are you and I going to do about it?

This week I am challenging you and ME to take a fresh new look at the Easter celebration we will be having in our churches.

Researchers have said that a visitor to a church makes their initial decision on whether to return to the church within the first few minutes of their arrival on the church property. This is before the message and possibly before the service begins! Now ask yourself, “If I were a visitor, why should I go back to this church based on my initial contact with it?” Are the building and grounds well kept? Did I have to walk from the farthest part of the parking lot? Were there people to welcome me that were genuinely interested in seeing me? Or, did they greet me and then return to their conversations with people? The questions should go on and on and on…

I would love to hear your suggestions on what your church (or you) are doing to enhance the initial experience of Easter Sunday visitors.