It is no secret that almost every Church will have numerous guests for their Easter services. Even the most non-religious people seem to be willing to go to Church on Easter. As a result, Easter will lead most Churches to add special programs to bring even more people to Church. They will have Sunrise Services, special breakfast, Easter pageants and extra worship programs. People who normally wouldn’t offer much help quickly volunteer to do special readings, sing special songs and help in the children’s programs with an Easter egg hunt. Churches are booming with activity and with people every day of this weekend.
The only problem is that most of the guests will not return the week after Easter. Some of them will only reappear at Christmas and others will not return until next Easter. Many of them will keep their negative attitude toward Christians and unfortunately even have them reinforced this weekend. It is my contention that all of the programs and special activities have little impact without paying attention to the small details. I believe the small things we do this weekend will have the greatest impact on our guests for the good of the gospel.
1. Park as far away from the building as you can. Save the best spots for the elderly, those with children and guests. How many of us have driven around a Wal-mart parking lot looking for that spot close to the door? Now imagine going to Wal-mart and all the spots close to the door are open. Does that change your attitude? Think about that in terms of a Church parking lot. You wrestle the kids to get ready this one day and then you get there and the only spots are a mile away. Does that change your attitude?
2. Sit at the front (and sit close together). Don’t make people who show up a little late (or even right on time) go set up near the front. If you are in Church once a year, you do not want to be right up front where the pastor can see you. If your kids might get fidgety during the sermon because they are not used to setting in worship then you do not want to set right up front. I am 100% convinced that the most selfish act that most Christians do is take the best seats at the back. If you do no other things to promote the spreading of the gospel this year, do this one thing – sit at the front and sit close together.
3. Talk kindly to strangers. Spend the majority of your morning talking nicely to people you do not know. Ask them about themselves. Ask them if they need to know where anything is located. Tell them a little about our church. Listen, listen, listen. And never say to anyone – “I haven’t seen you in a while” or “I never thought I would see you in Church” or “Are you lost?” You get the idea. Our tendency is to run and talk to the people we know and totally ignore strangers. This only reinforces the mean and negative spirit of Christians to a non-Christian world.
4. Remember the 5 minute rule. The 5 minute rule states that the first five minutes in a new location are the most important. The second most important 5 minutes are those right after the end of a program. The questions are simple, “Are these people glad I am here and willing to accept me.” The final question is something like, “That wasn’t that bad, I am going to give them one more shot to mess this up.” Thus – talk to people right before and right after. Don’t make it overly religious and don’t be self-centered. Invite people to lunch. If they say “not today, we have plans for Easter,” then say, “How about after Church next week?” Use these five minutes to show people Christians are friendly and not self-centered.
5. Pray. This is last but certainly not least. Pray before the program. Pray during the program. Pray after the program. Pray for those involved in the program for Sunday. Pray for those thinking about attending. Pray for those that attended. Pray for the people you met that day (by name). Pray, pray and pray. Ask God to do things that you may never see or know about. I firmly believe God can do great things if we ask Him to.
I know that each of these are seemingly very little things, but each one can have a great impact for eternity. It is one thing for people to invite someone to join them for Easter. It may be an even better thing that this guest then gets treated in a wonderful manner. Guests are great, but return guests can become believers and eventually disciples. One small action can change a life.