The 4 W's of Service Planning

Pastors, we are just weeks away from the most significant event for the Christian Church worldwide. Without Resurrection Sunday, the spread of the Gospel as we know it would not exist.  We all know that Christmas and Easter are the best times to invite a friend to come to church and hopefully your congregation is taking full advantage of this opportunity. It is also the time that we see the most amount of new visitors or those that only come twice a year. Holiday services are a special opportunity to engage this crowd and invite them to consider what a life walking with Christ might look like. Is your Easter service fully prepared to address the needs of these new visitors? 

I would like to offer a few simple ideas to consider as you look to inspire your congregations and visitors this year. These ideas are not only true for holiday services but have merit for all year long:

Welcome

From the parking lot, to the lobby, to the front door, to taking their seats, remember to create an environment that is inviting. Make sure people know they are your welcomed guest! The larger your church building and property the more important this concept is. Some of the most  crucial things to remember here are signage and people. Let’s be honest, most people are chronically late to church so having proper signage to direct them to the right place and putting greeters in key locations to direct traffic and answer questions is key, esp when you are running behind. Finally, keep it simple and keep it fun. Consider these additional simple and fun ideas:

  • Have a family photo booth in the lobby with your church logo on it to create a lasting memory.

  • Encourage community. Serve beverages and cookies after the service in the lobby to invite guests to linger with others during the busy holiday season. 

  • Create opportunities to give back by hosting a food drive for a local shelter or food pantry.

Walk in

Creating a welcoming environment at the walk in time of the service, 15-30 minutes before the start, is a great way to include engaging and interactive elements in your pre-service programming. Holidays especially are the perfect opportunity to do something unique and fun or to tell the stories of how your church is meeting the needs of the community. Consider these ideas as a place to start:

  • Hand out a coloring page and crayons to kids that connects with the content of the message to help parents manage their energy and attention during service time.

  • Utilize fantastic pre-made tools created from websites like Worship House Media that provide creative video countdowns to the service. Everything from simple backgrounds to Holy Week trivia is available.

  • Ask your congregation to send in their favorite Easter family photos and have your video team set them to music. People love to see themselves and it will be a familiar and welcome introduction to the service as they see their family and friends. 

  • Have the children’s choir sing a few songs before the service starts. It is also one of the best ways to get people to service on time!

Why am I here?

We all know content is king when it comes to communication. Make sure you are crystal clear on what the topic and takeaway of your message is and know who your target audience is. Most people know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection but the real question is “What does that have to do with me?” “What difference has Jesus made in others and in the world around me?” Are you able to articulate why it matters succinctly? Consider not just telling the story but make sure not to neglect including personal stories of how a relationship with Jesus has transformed lives in your community and show what that looks like. Make the most of the limited time you have people’s attention.

What’s next?

It’s important to educate and inspire, but when it’s all said and done, people want to be moved to action. Are you challenging them to behave differently? Are you giving them tangible next steps and a reason to return? One of the most important things you can do is planning now for your next series. Make sure you are able to communicate to people at your Easter services what they have to look forward to and join in on next week at your church. Highlight this invitation well and consider using it as a service take-away. Finally, consider having a next steps table or booth in the lobby to help people who may be asking spiritual questions or looking for a way to serve or connect to a small group.

May all those who come to your Holy Week services this year know in deeper ways the Christ who laid down His life for ours and experience His presence in new and fresh ways!

Deanna Kotrla