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If you and your team haven't already been asking this question, you are already a little behind on planning. Easter is only 11 days away (even closer if you have services on Friday or Saturday). But you're not too late!

I recently heard Easter called the "Super Bowl" of the church world. In no way was that comparison meant to demean the real meaning of Easter, but instead to illustrate an important point. A lot of people come to Easter services. A lot of people that normally don't attend church. Family, friends, visitors, churched and unchurched... basically people from all walks of life, and all kinds of backgrounds. Churches have a special opportunity on this weekend to share the message of Jesus with the largest possible audience. Let's make sure we take it seriously.

We could get all tied up in the minute details of planning, your unique church or community culture, your schedule, and various other elements, but for the sake of simplicity let's stick to the basics. Here are just a few thoughts that may help you get ready for maximum impact on Easter weekend:

1. We’ve Been Waiting For You

This is a frame of mind and an attitude of the heart. As you plan your sermon, worship, kids activities, space for extra cars in the parking lot, after-church dinner — you get the idea — adopt this mentality throughout the process. "We've been waiting on you". We've all been to a retail store or restaurant where the moment you walked in you felt as though you were an inconvenience to the employees. It seemed more like they were waiting on you to leave. That's not a great feeling, and it's certainly not the feeling you want people visiting your church to feel. When you take on the “We've been waiting on you" attitude, it affects your preparation, and builds excitement in you and your team. Your church and visitors will notice, and they will feel welcome.

Let's think of it this way. If you stop by someone’s house unexpectedly and they greet you at the door with something like “Oh, I wasn't expecting you... Come in”, do you really feel welcome? What if they greeted you with something like "I was hoping you'd stop by, come on in!” Now you feel welcome, and next time you won't even hesitate to visit.

2. Identify and eliminate your assumptions

Sounds easy doesn't it? Well it's not. The problem with assumptions is that most of us don't realize we have them. Assumptions, by definition, are when we take something for granted. Most churches around the country would say they are all about "reaching" people, at least the ones I visit. The problem is that most aren't aware of how many assumptions are present in their communication, programming, signage and culture. Remember this: people that are new to your church don't know where the "east entrance" is so don't direct them there unless you tell them where it is. If someone asks you where to drop their kids off, don't tell them "at the kidz zone". They don't know what that is. The fact that they asked a question should ring a bell that they are a guest! The truth is we all operate with assumptions, but Easter weekend is a great time to evaluate your property signage, guest information, what is said from stage, and pretty much everything else. If you assume anything, assume that your guest know nothing about your church. Best rule of thumb? Assume nothing. Explain everything.

3. Keep it simple

Since Easter is Super Bowl Sunday, we should do everything over the top right? Not necessarily. Make sure to read our post on Doing Less To Do More for a lesson on keeping it simple. The point here is start with a simple question. What is the one thing you want everyone (adults and kids) to know or do when they leave church? Then, answer that question in your service. All of your planning should go back to that one question.

I always encourage creative expression and excellence, but never at the expense of the audience. The point of a sermon should be clear to the audience. So keep it simple, clear and concise. I LOVE new music, but the point of the worship service is that the people in service actually worship. So, doing 5 of the newest worship songs out there may not be the best idea if your church can't worship with you. Are you getting the idea? Keep it simple. Don't try to outdo yourself, or anyone else for that matter. Do what you’re good at. Do just a few things, and do them with excellence.

4. Kids, Kids, Kids!

Don't have a budget for kids? Get one! Have a budget for kids? Get a bigger one. I'm not suggesting that we throw money at the kids department. I'm outright saying it! We hear quite often about investing in the next generation, so let's do it. Put as much energy and resources as you possibly can towards kids. And by all means, make it fun. Of course you will share the story of Jesus, but are you aware of a kids attention span? If not, google it. It's very short. Kids remember the same way adults remember; things that are fun, sad, funny or shocking stick. I recommend going with fun. They will remember what they learned if they have fun, and they will want to come back. The last time I checked, kids don't drive so they will bring their parents back. I should assume that security is of the highest priority, but second to that should be fun. Give away prizes, change things up, make them laugh and give them Jesus.

5. What's next?

By nature, we’re all a little selfish. We tend to ask this question subconsciously a lot. "What's in it for me?”, "What's expected of me?”, “What about me?”... It’s your job to answer those questions. People are in your service. You have a captive audience. Make sure you are prepared for what’s next. What is the series following Easter? Is there a giveaway planned for your kids services the weekend after Easter? What's your follow up plan? Is there a plan for Baptism? Don't just think about Easter, think beyond Easter.

Let's maximize this unique opportunity we have. We can sit around and gripe about the fact that there are people that only come to church for Easter and Christmas, or we can get busy planning to reach families we may only see once this year.