If you’ve been in ministry for any time at all, you are well aware that Easter presents an incredible opportunity to connect with new people in your community. The events of the past year or so have not diminished this opportunity. If anything, the challenges we have faced have increased people’s interest and desire to experience true hope. Jesus is the source of that hope and His Church is where people can build relationships that lead them in the path of a Christ-follower.
Many questions can easily distract us right now. Will we be able to meet and worship in person on Easter Sunday? Even if we are, will people in our area feel comfortable gathering together to worship? What about children’s ministry? Family Easter activities? Our elderly? Rather than allowing uncertainty to derail our ministry efforts, let’s accept that some things will definitely be just that: uncertain, and that is ok. We are still Christ’s Church and we have a calling and a mission. Let’s be sure we accept the uncertainty and lean in, pray, plan, prepare… and take action.
Here are a handful of ideas to help you and your church focus on building new relationships with those people in your community who are needing hope this year. Some of these ideas are tried and tested, some are fresh and new. Share these ideas with your ministry leaders and see if any resonate, or perhaps they will spark a new, creative idea. Be sure to join our Outreach Facebook group to share your ideas with other churches who are looking to make a Kingdom impact this Easter. To join us, click here.
COVID-Edition of the Classic Community Egg Hunt
The traditional Easter egg hunt may not be possible this year, but that does not mean you have to abandon it altogether. This year you can show families in your community how much you care by helping them host their own egg hunts for their kids. Invite your congregation to fill plastic Easter eggs with candy or small toys and ask them to drop them off at your church a few weeks before Easter. Purchase inexpensive Easter themed bags or baskets and have a small group, (teens often enjoy doing this,) fill each bag or basket with a dozen or so eggs. You will also want to include an invite card from your church encouraging the family to join you either in-person or online for your Easter celebration. Consider having other items in the bag, such as a gift card to a local coffee shop, a small gift book like The Case for Easter, or donated items from local businesses or community organizations. Deliver these “Backyard Egg Hunt” bags to families in your area. You can either deliver them to families that your church has connected with in other ways, such as community events in the past, or you can reach out to a local school or neighborhood kids club and ask them to help connect you to families.
Invite Every Household in Your Community to Celebrate Easter Online or In-person
If you would like to reach every household in your neighborhood, community, town or city you can mail each home a postcard invitation with all of the details for your Easter activities and where they can join you for your Easter Sunday worship celebration. Postcard invitations allow you to connect with every home in a given area and are an economical way to introduce others to your church. You can even qualify for a special non-profit postage rate from the USPS to save on your costs. Our Outreach Specialists can help you file for your non-profit status at no cost to your church.
2-4-6-8, Who Do You Appreciate?
A wonderful way to bless your community is through a focused act of appreciation. Consider giving small gift bags, gift cards, snacks, or even meals, to teachers, healthcare workers, assisted living center staff, first responders, or others that contribute so much to your community. One simple way to approach this is to focus on a specific school, fire station, care center, or clinic. After your church has blessed them, you might make this part of your ongoing outreach to your community, adopting and appreciating a new group each month of the year.
Leverage Social Media
You want to be where people are and one place people are spending a lot of time is on social media networks. There are several ways you can leverage social media. For example, OutreachEverywhere delivers professionally-designed social ads from your church on Facebook, targeted to reach people in the same zip codes that your direct mail postcard invitations are delivered. So people in your community will see your ad as they are scrolling on their phone and ALSO find your postcard invitation in their mailbox. We can also help you run stand-alone Facebook ads leading up to your Easter celebration, assist you with regular posts on your social channels, and even help you with videos you can share online. Be sure to incorporate a strategy to connect with people near you through social media this Easter.
Old School “Social Posts” Across Your Town
Yes, posting on your social media channels is a great way to get your Easter message out, but do not forget about old school “social posts.” Imagine if every one of your member’s homes and businesses had a yard sign that encouraged people to join your church to celebrate on Easter Sunday. These become great conversation starters for neighbors and patrons. This is an easy and affordable way to support your outreach efforts. Simply have yard signs printed which announce your Easter celebrations and your website and ask your members to place them in their yards and places of business.
Virtual Visit to an Assisted Living Center
School choirs, church youth groups, local musicians, and others have consistently visited assisted living centers to share music and more with their residents. Since COVID, these opportunities have ceased. A special way to bless those who have been shut-in this past year is to plan a virtual visit. This can be done in a few different ways, including a prerecorded concert or show that can be shared with the director of the care center or a live video call where members of your church can sing and share. Contact an assisted care center in your area and see what might work best for their residents.
Remember to Share a Next Step Blessing
Take time now to think about how you will bless those individuals and families who connect with your church for the first time this Easter. What is the next step for them? How will you continue to build relationships with your Easter guests? Plan something that you can invite them to experience the following week. Some churches have a special gift that they announce on Easter Sunday that will be given away the following week, such as a t-shirt, tote bag, or journal. Many churches use Easter as the first week of a multi-week sermon series, so there is a natural invitation for the next few weeks. LOVE REIGNS is our brand new Easter Church Kit which includes 4 weeks of helpful ministry resources, including videos, sermons and graphics, to encourage those who attend on Easter to return. Be sure to not let Easter be a one-and-done Sunday but the start to a growing relationship with your guests.
Host an Online Group for Those Who are Searching
As mentioned earlier, many people are looking for a sense of hope. Many have unanswered questions, have faced challenging times, or have incurred difficult losses. People are open to online discussions today more than ever. Consider hosting an online group where people can explore some of these questions. We recommend running an Alpha group and encouraging your people to invite friends, coworkers and classmates. You can even run Facebook ads to invite people who might be wrestling with these questions but are not yet connected to anyone in your church. God has been meeting people in powerful ways through these types of groups and this allows your church to reach new people no matter the physical meeting restrictions you might have in your area.
Reaching out and building relationships with people in your community this Easter does not have to be complex, expensive, or exhausting. Simple ideas executed with love can make a lasting difference. We are praying for an incredible Easter season for you, your church and your community. May the hope of our Risen Lord be experienced by many in your community and may they come to personally know the transformative love of Jesus!
As Vice President of Ministry Mobilization for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equippingchurches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. He also serves as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement and hosts the weekly ChurchLeaders podcast. Jason lives on Anastasia Island, Florida, with his beautiful wife and children. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @jasondaye