To stream or to gather? Churches in the United States are increasingly answering with a resounding, “Both!” A Faithlife informal poll shows over half of churches are planning to offer in-person and live stream worship for Easter services 2021.
The two-format services have been a blessing to worshipers over the past year, but they can drastically increase the amount of work church staff has to do each week. With Easter just over a month away, what can churches do now to plan for the highest attended service of the year—without working overtime to get it all done? Better yet, how can they still reach visitors who may not want to attend in person?
Here are some ways to make your Easter services cohesive and engaging for everyone—without doubling your workload or losing your mind:
- Develop a cohesive invitation plan.
While health risks and restrictions are in place, the only place where you can reliably catch people is at home. For churches promoting their Easter services, that means focusing on sending invitations through the web, social media, and personal connections.
Use graphics to show a cohesive, memorable message about your Easter services. You can choose one main image that communicates something beautiful about your church and ties to your service theme. Then, use it on your website and Easter landing page, social media pages, and printed invitations as a visual cue to help potential visitors know they’re in the right place.
People are looking for hope, and they’re more open to attend church on Easter, so empower your congregation with beautiful, thoughtful ways to invite others to worship with you.
- Use digital bulletins to keep everyone immersed during worship.
Whether people are worshiping from the pews or the couch, you want them to be fully engaged in the service. And with potentially unchurched visitors, you don’t want them to feel lost in the service, but you also need to help them understand what’s happening.
Digital bulletins offer a creative way to bridge the gap between in-person and live streamed services (and they’re 100% germ-free!). When you include your order of service in a digital bulletin, you can give first-time guests a roadmap of what’s coming next (and why) and regular attenders a way to follow more closely with the service.
It’s an easy way to keep everyone on the same page—without spending a dime on printing or an hour on folding and cutting bulletins.
- Have an engagement strategy for both service formats.
Hospitality doesn’t end just because you can’t offer hugs and handshakes, so churches need other strategies in place to help people know you’re glad they’re attending and that there’s a place for them in your church.
Video announcements and digital connection cards are great (and again, germ-free) ways to engage both online and in-person visitors, but they’re just the beginning. You can welcome everyone with beautiful and clear signage in your building. Online, you can recruit volunteers to post a question or two in your live stream chat before the service starts (like: What’s your favorite holiday? As a kid, what was your favorite thing about Easter?), and then offer to pray with anyone who wants to. And at the end of the service, you can post links to online discipleship opportunities.
- Provide opportunities for people to respond.
If someone wants prayer or to talk about becoming a Christian or even to make a gift to your church, they’ll need a way to respond in the moment.
You can make a section on your Easter landing page for anyone to fill out a connection card where they can ask for prayer, indicate that they want to trust Christ, or get involved at your church. It works well for people attending online or in person since they can fill it out from their phone using a link or QR code on the screen. Ideally, someone on your team should respond right away (within 24 hours, if possible), and if that seems fast, you can ask small group leaders to help you respond to everyone who turns in a connection card.
- Build simple discipleship pathways.
Before you start planning all your follow-up events, ask: Based on the visitors I’ve heard from in the past 3–6 months, what events would someone who’s brand new to my church feel comfortable attending?
Some people may be up for an in-person or online Bible study or even membership class, but others will prefer short one-on-one phone calls or virtual meetings with church leaders. Don’t make people wait until COVID-19 has passed to get plugged in at your church.
The best way to avoid overwork this Easter is to do most of your work digitally. It keeps you from doing the same task twice and gives visitors and members alike simple ways to worship with you, wherever they are.