I ate dinner the other night with a couple who first came to church at Christmas. After hearing their story, the wife looked at me sheepishly and said, “We were Chreasters.”
“For years, we’ve attended church on Christmas and Easter,” she continued. “Then, on Christmas Eve, you said we should start attending every week, so we are.”
I couldn’t help but smile. This is what we pray for twice a year!
The Chreaster Mindset
Chreasters are easy to reach and hard to keep. The easy part is getting them to one of your holiday services. They’re actually out there looking for a place to attend on those days. The difficult part is getting them to return on a regular Sunday. How do you persuade someone to come back to church that has no intention of doing so?
You don’t. But God can. I’ve found that if you line up grace, truth and prayer, God can work miracles at Christmas and Easter.
1. Concentrated Prayer
At New Song, we spend two weeks in 24/7 prayer for our Christmas and Easter guests. We set up stations in our Prayer Room and ask members to fill one hour of prayer five minutes at a time for the names of lost people submitted by other members, for the city and for the other churches in town. We pray that people will be drawn to the churches of our city on Easter, but our bigger prayer is that they’ll be drawn back in the weeks following.
2. A Confident Invitation to Receive Christ
My message on Christmas Eve and Easter is always pointed toward an invitation to receive Christ. If you’re not going to present the gospel on the two days when your greatest number of lost people are in church, what’s the point in being a church?
This Christmas, I went old school. Instead of asking people to respond to the Lord by raising their hands, I went a step further. While hands were up, I asked each one, “Are you serious about this?” After they each nodded in agreement, I said, “Then I’m going to invite you to come up here so I can pray with you.” What could they do? They had to come forward. Before praying with them, I got their names. After praying with them, I introduced them to someone who would take them through their first steps of faith.
3. An Immediate Follow-Up
The person I introduced them to was holding a packet. It contained a copy of the New Testament, a Spiritual Birth Certificate and the first lesson in a follow-up course called “Foundations.” Before returning to their seats, follow up was begun.
4. A Free Book
At the end of the service, I asked everyone to stand for the Benediction. Before praying, I said, “I know some of you couldn’t pray that prayer with me a few minutes ago because you still have a lot of questions you need answered. I have a book here called The God Questions, which I’ll gladly give you if you’ll read it. I’ll be up here in front after the service if you’d like a copy.” Then I prayed, grabbed a stack of books and waited, pen in hand.
I asked each person in my line, “So you have questions about God?”
They always say, “I do.”
After finding out their name, I handed them the book and said, “I hope we’ll see you back here next week.”