Our friends over at Church Marketing University asked their online community to provide suggestions for celebrating Easter in the days of COVID-19. They graciously agreed to let us share these ideas with you. Read on for some creative ways to build connection during a time of online church website services.
***Please Note*** The situation regarding COVID-19 changes on a nearly daily basis. We urge you to make every effort to follow the most recent guidelines issued by national, state/province, and local authorities regarding public events and gatherings.
As we all try to navigate doing church during a global pandemic, here are our top suggestions for planning your Easter services:
- Make sure you’re blessing your community. As a team, be asking questions like:
- What does our community need right now?
- How can we serve our community?
- What part of our Easter plan is going to be about blessing other people and sharing God’s love?
- Crowdsource as many elements as you can of your Easter service. See tips below!
- Ensure that your services are easily accessible online – try FreeOnlineChurch.com to connect Facebook Live and YouTube live feeds to your own website allowing people who don’t use those social sites to watch your services directly on your site!
- Make sure you have a system for digitally collecting people’s contact information so that you can follow up -see tips below.
- Promote your online services – order last minute tools like an outdoor banner, yard signs and door hanger invitations that your church members can use in their neighborhoods to invite people to watch Easter services at home.
- And finally, and most importantly, preach the gospel! The fact that Easter will be digital this year means there are fewer barriers than ever to people going to church on Easter. If they decide to tune in to your service, make sure they’re hearing the message of Jesus!
Crowdsourcing your Easter Service:
Below you’ll find tons of ideas and resources for putting these suggestions into practice, as well as ideas for kids and families.
- Do a virtual Easter dance montage! Send out the song and dances moves for families to learn, and have them send their videos back in to be put together and played on Easter Sunday.
- Do an “Easter’s best” photo contest. It gives the family a reason to still dress up (or at least dress up their kids). Collect email addresses and give a prize (or a few prizes).
- Use different categories if you offer multiple prizes: dressed up, dressed down, pets, etc.
- If you go the generosity route you could donate $1 (or whatever) for every submission or every social share…
- Have kids tell the Easter story! Here are a few variations:
- Send parents 3-5 questions for them to ask their kids about the Easter story, with a link for uploading videos of their interview to a dropbox or Google folder. Then, have someone from your church who’s good at video editing sift through and create a video from their responses. It’s a nice way to transition between your online worship and message, naturally sets your pastor up to tell the real Easter story, and, best of all, gets families excited and involved in your service, even digitally.
- Have parents record their kids talking about what Easter and Jesus mean to them. Short clips. Then edit them all together to make a video.
- Create a testimony video. Here are a few variations:
- Reach out to a handful of families and ask them to share in 60 seconds or less about God’s provision and what Easter means to them. Have each family record their own videos and compile them together.
- Ask people to film themselves explaining how Jesus changed their life in 1 min and send it to you. Then, create a testimony video using the clips.
- Ask people to take a picture of themselves or their families watching online the week before Easter, hashtag and post on social media. Then, use the photos in the pre-service countdown time before service begins on Easter Sunday.
- Create an Easter skit! Send the kids their lines, and have parents video them acting them out. Then, put them all together to create a video.
- Get parents to send in videos of their kids saying a bible verse from the message, then put them together.
- Plan a special series to launch the week after Easter and make sure you talk about it during your service so visitors will have a reason to watch again next week.
Creative Sunrise Service Ideas:
- Scope out the best places in your area to watch the sunrise. Then, on Easter Sunday, plan to go live from that spot. Use a simple equipment set-up (even just your phone), and plan a quiet time of Scripture, music, and reflection against the backdrop of an actual sunrise.
- Host the sunrise service from your yard/balcony/front porch and encourage others to head outside as they watch!
A lot of people wrote in to say that they were planning to do some sort of variation on drive-in church for their Easter services. This is an understandably popular idea, however, some areas currently prohibit it because of the virus. If this is your plan for Easter, great! But, make sure that you’ve considered a back-up plan in case it rains or your state/local guidelines on public gatherings are tightened up.
Other Easter Service Ideas:
- Consider using a talk show format with video stories and interviews throughout the service. This can be a powerful way for your church to show what life with Jesus is like!
- Integrate hidden details into your service to help keep kids (and families!) entertained:
- Have Easter eggs in different spots throughout your service, and encourage kids to count how many they see.
- See if people can spot the hidden details you’ve woven into your service and make a downloadable fill-in-the-blank style pdf or bingo board for families to cross off during the service.
- Go live from your driveway, so the people immediately around you can watch from their porches!
- Go live during your Easter breakfasts at home for a time of fellowship.
- Have a way for people to submit prayer requests- through Text In Church, Facebook messenger, email or even a phone call.
- Host an “Easter Sing,” where everyone from your church goes outside at the same time and sings, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” or another Easter song.
- Have each family from your church release balloons or butterflies at the end of your Easter service.
- Mail Easter activity packets to the children in your church that they can do during your Easter service or provide printable activity pages online.(Click here for an easy option)
- Create a live, interactive scavenger hunt for families to do 30 minutes prior to your Easter service kicking off.
- Try to facilitate communion by providing a place where people can pick up the elements, mailing an “Easter box” to your people, or by providing instructions for preparing the elements at home. Then, have the pastor lead everyone in communion during your Easter service (or holy week services).
- Do something low-key and digital for now, then plan to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection in person once you can all be together again!
Kids Ministry / Family Activities:
- Do digital or drive-through stations of the cross.
- Create digital resurrection eggs or mail kits so that families can create their own resurrection eggs at home!
- Deliver BLOOM kits to families before Easter -including llittle flower pots, zip-loc of dirt and pack of seeds – with a letter about Easter online! The scripture is “I am alive forever and ever.” Rev. 1:18 (what a great verse for NOW!) thinking it will be a family activity and something families can watch together as it BLOOMS!”
- Have families and children submit Easter artwork and create a virtual gallery on your Facebook page.
- Create an Easter scavenger hunt where people can drive around and take pictures of things, or, if your area is under stay at home orders, create one that they can do inside their homes.
- Instead of having an in-person photo booth, have people send you Easter selfies & mail them printed, framed photos as a gift.
- Host an egg decorating contest online or a virtual gallery.
- Create something like a Christmas light drive-through with stations of the cross for Easter. Have families from your church create displays outside their homes, and upload a map and narration to your church’s website telling the Easter story so that families can drive around at night & watch the lights.
- Ask the kids to decorate their sidewalks and driveways with Easter messages written with sidewalk chalk, and have their parents take pictures and tag the church!
- Create a virtual, multi-day Easter challenge for kids where you share part of the Easter story and kids submit a creation (legos, drawing, songs, skits, etc.) that goes along with it.
Digital Connect Cards:
One of the best parts of doing services online is that it allows you to keep your next steps native to the platform. Here are some suggestions for using digital connect cards during your services:
- Start the LIVE feed in a fun way, and strongly encourage EVERYONE to leave a comment. That is your attendance/roll call.
- Then encourage a next step of getting into a Facebook Group. As they request to join the Facebook Group, Facebook will allow you to ask people 3 questions. This is now your “Connect Card.” One idea would be to ask them their email and phone number and how long they’ve been attending the church.
- Then use your Facebook Insights as your high-level metrics. Reach, views, etc.
- Another option would be to encourage people to use keywords as comments during the live. Then use a chatbot or your hospitality team to follow up. For example, you could say, “If you are new just type connect in the comments. We’d love to reach out and get to know you.”
- You can follow-up with anyone using keywords after the live and reply with a comment. Then look for the “message” option and send them a message from the page. You could thank them for attending and include a link to your digital connect card via Messenger.
- Consider doing a virtual welcome party via Zoom for people who are new to the church, and a virtual hangout for people who want to ask questions about the message.
- Make sure you continue to engage with your Facebook community on a regular basis, services like Outreach Social provide over 2000 inspiring graphics that you can set up to auto-post to your Facebook page daily increasing shares and likes and building your online audience.
- Use a system like Text In Church that will allow you to 1) automate parts of your follow-up process and 2) let people text keywords to get started.