He Is Risen, Now What?

March 28, 2005 by

With the Easter weekend behind us, many pastors will be taking today off (some for the whole week) as a well-deserved break from the intensity of all things Easter. In my own church, the pastor decided to involuntarily take off before the weekend ever began as a result of his voice going out—poor guy. (I felt even more sorry for the assistant pastor who finds out he’s doing all four services for one of the church’s best attended events of the year!)

The one thought I kept repeating over and over in my mind the whole time I was in service yesterday was why can’t we do church this way every weekend?

  • Why can’t the praise/worship (and choir) be this lively every weekend?
  • Why can’t kid’s church always have this much to do?
  • Why can’t we always have this many greeters to smile at me when I walk in?
  • Why can’t the video supplements always be this relevant and engaging?
  • Why can’t food always be a part of your church community?
  • Why can’t the Gospel message be this clear and direct every weekend?

I wonder if the reason we can’t hold on to some of the spike in Easter weekend attendance is due to this very fact. We make a decent first impression but follow it up with a more sustainable pattern in the weeks and months after Easter (of course until we ramp up again for Christmas).

While I certainly understand the uniqueness of the big three services each year (Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas), and I do realize that out-of-the-ordinary services result in out-of-the-ordinary attendance, there still seems to be a disconnect.

What did you do this weekend—that worked—that you could continue doing every weekend?

What did you do this weekend—that didn’t work—that you should discontinue doing every weekend?

The book on church visitors: Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time VisitorsMore:

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Brad Abare


Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Miró.
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9 Responses to “He Is Risen, Now What?”

  • kevin
    March 28, 2005

    In my church the Easter service is a lively and fun celebration (easily my favorite service of the year) because of the liturgical calendar. Services have been a little more reserved, a little more reflective since the beginning of Lent. We stop saying Alleluiah at the end of the service for 40 days. When Easter comes–it’s the end of Lent, the end of being reserved, and we let it all out. The congregation shouts Alleluiah, Alleluiah! at the end of the service, and I love it.
    The reason every week can’t be like Easter in my church is because the rhythm of the liturgy focuses our celebration. It’s a different mindset, helped by the build-up of the Lent season and the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday services before Easter.
    I think a liturgical approach sees value in different moods and different themes. Thus a lively Easter service and a somber Ash Wednesday service. And I like the honesty of that, because the Christian life isn’t always full-tilt happy like an Easter Sunday. Having that same Easter-buzz all year round would be a bit insincere.
    Though there’s no reason we can’t warmly greet people, make them feel welcome, and have relevant messages every week.
    (how’s that for a long rambling rant?)


  • Brad Abare
    March 28, 2005

    I appreciate your comments, Kevin. Unfortunately, because of the post modern and more contemporary mindset that many pastors have toward their services today, this liturgical approach – in my opinion – is, unfortunately, on the way out. While it is being replaced with alternate service formats that are arguably better and/or worse, it is definitely not a mainstream concept in protestant/evangelical circles. (I’m getting off into a subject that doesn’t belong in this blog so I’ll stop now.) Bottom line: good comments for churches that may apply to. My comments were directed more at the others.


  • TShafer
    March 28, 2005

    The only thing we did differently this Easter was bring all of our attendees to one place. Normally, we have 3 services at 2 different locations. For Easter, we had all three services at one place, which was cool.

    Programming-wise, there was almost nothing different about our service from what we normally do. We simply began another six-week series on generosity. I think that’s really the key. We spent more time on the Easter Sunday environment than we can normally spend on a given Sunday, but that time all went into making it flow better and making the logistics possible. The only “different” thing we did was a live “music video” that the band played to as people came in to get seats.

    The main thing we kind of keep in mind is that while Easter is a huge deal – I mean, it’s a celebration of why we’re here in the first place – there’s no reason not to have the same level of excitement and excellence in a Sunday service in July. Easter is the one time of the year people come to church who would never come otherwise, so it makes sense to have an excellent program that will maybe get them thinking about coming again. However, if we’re not pursuing excellence the rest of the time, we’re wasting our resources and we’re wasting the people’s time.

    In a way, that’s as big a marketing thing as all the video productions, web projects, and print things we do – we don’t bait people into coming only for them to find out we only do that kind of service once or twice a year. We try to create an environmentthat pushes people to keep coming and to get involved in community, where the real life-change can happen.


  • kevin
    March 28, 2005

    I know liturgy is definitely not big in protestant/evangelical circles, but I don’t know if I’d say it’s on the way out. If anything I’d say it’s more popular than ever. A lot of emergent folks are exploring liturgy and other similar concepts and bringing new life to them.
    My church actually thrives on people rediscovering liturgy. There’s probably more ex-Catholics and ex-Baptists in my Episcopal church than there are Episcopalians.


  • Anthony
    March 28, 2005

    The first thing that we did differently this year was to have a kick-off program on Palm Sunday. We had a special singing group come in and perform 2 songs. We also purchased custom made tickets that were good for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. We were in the process of building a set (mainly for Easter) and the set was not quite finished – but it blended in well because on Palm Sunday, the full redemptive work of the Lord was not “finished” either. We began incorporating a lot of high quality in-house and downloaded video into our services several months ago and we did much more of the same on Easter. The theme of the day was “Meet Me at The Bridge”. Not only did we have tickets to pass out to friends and neighbors (and others) – we also had “boarding passes” that the greeters gave to people as they arrived for service. The boarding pass served as a “program” for the day and listed a lot of the songs that were presented by the choir. We had a bridge that stretched from one side of the podium to the other. The songs and videos were “bridged” by the narration that had been written — between each song/video – a speaker would move a little further across the bridge — and at the last song, he stepped off the other side — the bridge symbolized JESUS as the bridge between death and life, our old life and the new life that He offers. We also had a professional photographer at the service who also agreed to work with our photography dept afterwards to show them what he did, and how we can make the pictures from each Sunday service even better. We also did “post service” interviews in the lobby that were videotaped so that we could guage audience reaction and learn what we could do better next year (and even next service).


  • Rachel C
    March 29, 2005

    With regards to food being a part of every gathering, our church has a meal together each time – and it’s great! I highly recommend it :)


  • Anthony D. Coppedge
    March 30, 2005

    When Pastors see the huge opportunity for the C&E (Christmas & Easter) crowd, they get more people involved because of these “big” weekends. Unfortunately, these same church often fail to keep visitors interested because they don’t have the infrastructure to maintain this kind of team approach.

    Don’t get me wrong: I firmly believe that God gives the message to the teaching Pastor, if they’re listening for it. What I am saying, however, is that there is a better way to sustain excellence week in and week out: Creative Planning Teams for Weekend Experiences.

    The concept is simple: the teaching Pastor/Senior Pastor takes a week or two sabbatical and seeks God’s direction for message series topics. I suggest trying for 3 to 6 month’s worth of sermon series/titles and brining this direction back to a Creative Planning Team that helps flesh out the possibilities for each week of a series. The combined creative input comes from a staple of staff and/or volunteers who are involved in the planning every week. The rest of the team is comprised of rotating staff and/or volunteers to keep the ideas fresh and the mix lively.

    This is particularly helpful for the music, staging and technical teams of the church, where more TIME (Today Isn’t More than Enough!{tm}) means more possibilities. Furthermore, the coordination allow for teams of other volunteers, such as parking lot helpers, greeters, ushers and hospitality folks can be plugged into a known schedule that fits the context of the series.

    When Pastors finally learn the value of this model, sustaining “Easter weekend type” services is realistic.


  • What did we do that worked?

    The site “Church Marketing…”, well, something or other, asks, “What did you do this weekend that worked?


  • Craig
    April 7, 2007

    What we really need is Techno-Trance and a light show ;-)
    Church food is almost universally unhealthy but good Sermons would be great!



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