He is risen. He is risen, indeed.
This coming weekend, the church across the world will be celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus, a story at the very center of our faith. It’s the story of victory over death. It’s the story of lives transformed. It’s central to what we do as a local church.
Easter isn’t canceled; we’re just going to celebrate a bit different this year. Church leaders, don’t be discouraged or upset about the fact that you can’t meet with your people in a physical space this year. You and I have been given an incredible opportunity that we may never see again in our lifetime. This is the opportunity to literally invite our entire communities into our churches to experience connection, to hear the teaching of Jesus and to come face-to-face with the reality of Easter.
Your building isn’t big enough to contain all the people in your community that need to hear the message of Jesus. Rather than seeing this year as something sub-par, you and I need to see this as an opportunity to share the message of Jesus with a bigger audience than ever before. Let’s not miss it.
Have you noticed that the entire world is increasingly in the same boat? Recently, I was connecting online with a friend who I haven’t talked to in a few months. This is not the kind of person I would pick up the phone to call or text at a moment’s notice, as they’re not in my everyday stream of relationships. We hadn’t connected since before COVID-19 took off and has been impacting our community. However, I was struck at how we jumped into conversation without any context and started talking about how both our lives have been impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak.
That experience is being shared by everyone across the country and, ultimately, everyone around the world. People are sharing the same mindset right now. This presents a unique opportunity for this Easter. We all have communities that are wrestling with the differences that this virus has made in their lives and they are asking the ultimate questions of life. My prayer is that this Easter will be a chance for your church to reach more people than ever before.
While the word “unprecedented” is used and overused in so many contexts these days, there are actually many things that are exactly the same about your church this year at Easter as they have been in previous years. From a church growth and impact point of view, here are just a few things that are exactly the same this year.
Three Church Growth Dynamics that Haven’t Changed Because of COVID-19
- Churches grow because their people invite their friends. // This is the biggest, most consistent idea that you need to keep in mind as you think about impacting your community this digital Easter. Churches that make a difference are still seeing their impact grow during this season because their people are inviting their friends to whatever it is that the church is doing. At its core, this is the engine that drives all church growth: people inviting their friends. You and I need to be wrestling through and thinking about how we can continue to encourage our people to invite their friends.
- Growing churches ask their people to invite friends. // No, that’s not a typo, and I’m not just repeating the point above. Rather, this is an important distinction to consider as we lead in this season. Growing churches don’t just assume that their people will invite their friends; growing churches go out of their way to equip, motivate, and give their people tools to invite others. If you want to impact more people at this time of year, you need to go out of your way to encourage and enable your people to invite their friends.
- You don’t need to spend lots of money to grow. // I know that lots of churches across the country are facing a financial pinch. With unemployment rates on the rise and uncertainty spreading across the broader economy, many of us are wondering how we will be able to continue to do our ministries. The good news is, the things that are required to see an increase in your attendance this digital Easter are not going to cost you a lot of money. In fact, I would caution you against buying Facebook ads or other digital advertising platforms (as we’ve talked about in the past), because there are a number of things you can do for free that will get you higher leverage. If you haven’t done some of these free things first, I would advise doing them before buying ads on any other platforms.
Here are a number of ways that you could see an increased impact during digital Easter this year at your church. These ideas are executable and you could jump on them right away.
Spread Shareable Graphics
Right now, your church is invisible unless you are sharing online.
The fact that your church and my church are now 100% online digital churches means that our physical location in our town is of no consequence anymore. People used to drive by your building the week leading up to Easter and think, “Maybe I should go to church this weekend.” Now they can attend your church with the click of a button.
Considering this new context, you should be generating graphics for your people to use when inviting their friends. Here are some simple to use but powerful tools you can use to make some graphics for your people to share:
- Canva // This is the benchmark for easy to use online graphic design. Plus, it’s FREE for non-profit organizations!
- Easil // This is another awesome and easy-to-use graphic design tool. The major difference between Canva and Easil is the ability to organize your layers—a much coveted ability in Photoshop. There are several other advantages as outlined in this article.
- RelayThat // This is another simple to use system with lots of cool looking templates.
When making these shareable graphics, think about them from the perspective of your people and their willingness to share them with their friends. These graphics shouldn’t just list the time of your service but should include an invitation to join. You need to use language like, “Join me,” or “Be a part of our digital experience this year.” Use inclusive language to draw people in.
Like all social media graphics, we need to be helpful, not just drive hype. The reality is, you’re not going to be able to create a viral sensation this week that will increase your attendance next weekend, but you can create some simple graphics and videos that your people could use to invite others. Make these graphics easy to download and share.
BONUS: You could even make a quick video that shows people how they could post on Instagram or Facebook to invite others to come to your church this weekend.
Do a Press Release
Across the country today, media outlets are covering stories about what’s happening on Easter.
This is one of those times of year where media outlets are paying attention to what the church does. If you haven’t written a press release and sent it to your local newspaper and radio and television stations, you are missing an opportunity to drive attendance at this weekend’s digital Easter experience.
For the majority of people who read this blog, the idea of online church is not that novel. However, it is novel for the press, and the press is ultimately looking for new ideas that they can spread to other people. More than just sending a press release, as soon as you get any coverage, you need to send that coverage to your people and encourage them to share it with their friends and invite them to come to church. The third-party validation of being covered by the press is a powerful invite tool. Even more so, it’s a powerful motivator. Your people will be proud that your church has received that media attention and will be eager to share that with their friends online.
Pick Up the Phone
Isn’t it funny how in this day and age the things that we used to do back in the ’90s seem to have more relevance? What if your church developed a phone tree? You call three friends, who call three friends, who call three friends and before you know it, you’ve reached hundreds (if not thousands) of people who are now connected to your church.
You could also divide up your volunteer teams. Some people have been disengaged over the last few weeks after being unable to fill their usual volunteer roles. Have your volunteers call the people in your church and ask them to invite friends to come to church online this weekend for digital Easter. The personal contact will be appreciated, and it will boost your digital attendance in this season.
You should be going live on every possible streaming service that you can between now and Easter Sunday. Look for creative ways to engage with your people on those live experiences.
Here are some quick points on potential things you could do online to connect with people and capture their attention:
- Do a craft with your church’s kids // During that experience, explain what you’re doing at your church’s online experience this weekend and invite people to come.
- Do a Q&A session around the importance of Easter // Apologetics at this season are particularly important because people are asking big questions.
- Show some of the behind the scenes prep as you get ready for digital Easter // This content always has high value, but even more so in this season as people are interested in what’s going on behind the scenes.
- Be super clear with people about this weekend’s message // Target a live video that shows the message prep happening and explain to people that you’re going to be sharing a clear message about Jesus. This will encourage people to invite their friends.
Engage Your Community Online
Your church is more than a 60-minute stream every weekend.
Churches that are prevailing in this season are driving deep on the community engagement side, not just on the production of the weekend experience. Be sure to find ways to increase the connection with people in your church, and sprinkle questions into those conversations about who they could be inviting to this weekend’s digital Easter.
Pop into Online Small Groups // Join as many online smalls groups as you can this week for just a few minutes. Normally it would be a huge hassle to try to visit 10, 15, or 20 small groups in a week, but now you can achieve that digitally! Say hi, check in on how people are doing, and remind them about your digital Easter!
Increase Your Personal Social Engagement // You could also simply engage with your people on your church’s social content as much as possible. Go out of your way to invest an hour every day between now and your digital Easter to engage with as many people as possible online. Motivate your staff team to increase that engagement. You’d be amazed to see the traction you could gain from just reaching out to people on various social platforms.
More Help For Church Leaders in This Season
Do you need more help leading in this season? We hosted a series of webinars around topics that church leaders are currently concerned with. Access this content for free at these links:
- 3 Types of Data Pastors Need for Crisis Response
- Leading through Volatility and Uncertainty
- The Portable Church Advantage in the Midst of the Crisis
- How the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” Is Impacting Your Church Today
- Continuing Intentional Community in a Socially Distant World
- Gearing Up for a Digital Easter
- How to Spread HOPE Faster Than COVID-19
- Effective Churches Will Make This Shift
- Decisions Today for a Stronger Financial Future Tomorrow
Don’t miss this opportunity to reach people in your community.
Easter isn’t canceled. Church isn’t closed.
We’re just doing something different. We’re meeting online as a way to respect our communities and to fight the spread of the Coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean that the mission of your church has stopped. Just because we’ve changed methods doesn’t mean that our purpose is any different.