As Easter weekend approaches, churches around the world are preparing to make a positive impression on regular attendees as well as visitors who may not have ever entered the doors of their church.
Church attendance usually spikes on Easter and Christmas. I wish that churches prepared for every weekend like Easter weekend. When preparing for the Easter service, don't forget to think through every step of the process to make visitors feel welcome on Easter Sunday. Even the best sermon may fall on deaf ears if visitors don’t feel welcome.
How can your church make a positive first impression to visitors on Easter? Here’s my 10 step checklist for a successful Easter service preparation:
1. Greeting starts in the parking lot. Getting people in and out of the parking lot in an organized and timely manner is significant to making a positive first impression. Depending on how many attendees you are expecting, you may find it helpful to draw out a traffic flow plan and discuss it with your staff and volunteers before the Easter services. As people pull into the parking lot, they should see friendly people smiling and waving. Equip your staff and volunteers to point people in the right direction to the worship center, children’s area, or coffee. Depending on how large your parking facility is, it may be helpful to have golf carts or other forms of transportation available for the elderly, disabled, and families with young children. Check the forecast. Is it going to be raining or snowing? Consider providing umbrellas.
2. Have greeters at every door. The value of a warm smile and handshake is invaluable when visitors are entering a building they have never attended before. In your Easter service preparation, meet with your volunteers before Sunday to talk about the importance of representing your church well with an inviting presence. Equip them with information so they can serve visitors well. Consider having wheel chairs available for the elderly and disabled and encourage volunteers to help guide them to a designated seating area with easy access.
3. Have an information area where people can ask questions. There’s nothing that’s more uncomfortable than feeling lost or confused when you’re in a new place. Set up a central location where visitors can learn more about your church, ask where they restrooms are located, or talk with someone about their faith. Every volunteer or staff member working the information area should be well equipped to answer frequently asked questions.
4. Have ushers specifically for guiding visitors into the worship area. When your visitors make it to the worship center, there should be ushers who are smiling, handing out brochures, walking the aisles, assisting visitors in finding a seat in an orderly way. Encourage people to move to the front and fill the church from the front to the back. This is especially important on a high attendance weekend like Easter. Have extra chairs ready to go if the building reaches capacity. Ask people to move to the middle of the row to make sure empty seats are along the aisle.
5. Make volunteers and staff easily identifiable. All volunteers and staff should have a nametag, matching t-shirts, or lanyards to be easily identifiable. This makes them approachable to new visitors who may have questions or need help.
6. Prepare the restrooms before the service and refresh the restrooms during the services. Clean restrooms send a message to visitors that your church is intentional and that you care about the details of their entire visit.
7. The campus should be litter free. Prepare your entire staff and volunteers for a team effort on litter patrol. The entire team should be on the lookout for litter and pick it up. Be sure visitors have easy access to wastebaskets. Strategically place them in the open gathering areas of the church.
8. Encourage your staff to engage with visitors. No staff members should be standing around in groups hanging out. Talk about the roles of every staff member in a staff meeting before Easter Sunday so everyone knows what is expected of them.
9. Have visible security in the children's area. Parents want to make sure their children are safe. They also want to know the area is clean and sanitary. Every volunteer should be clean and orderly. You will most likely need extra volunteers in the children’s area. It may be helpful to have the Children’s Director meet with the children’s volunteers before Sunday to ensure everyone is equipped to serve well.
10. Have volunteers at the doors as attendees leave. Thank visitors for coming. Consider handing them information about an upcoming event or another way they can connect with your community. One of the most important steps.
It's an honor to be a part of your church's ministry. We're praying for all of you as you prepare to share the Good News with your community this weekend.