Lovett H. Weems, Jr., encourages churches to consider whether adding an additional worship service on Easter Sunday will increase their ability to reach more worshipers. He says an unexpected, positive benefit of modifying your worship schedule is that you need to be more deliberate in sharing information with members and potential visitors.
Easter is the special day of the Christian year — our high holy day. Easter and Christmas Eve are the two times of year when those who do not regularly attend worship are drawn to church. An informal survey conducted by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership found that worship attendance at Easter can be as much as three times the average weekly attendance. The average among the churches polled was for Easter attendance to be 80 percent above their normal average. Easter is a critical time for reaching others through worship.
One question to ask is whether an additional Sunday morning worship service should be scheduled for Easter. The important question to consider is not “Do we have to do it?” but “Will an additional service make it more likely that we will reach more people through Easter worship than not having an extra service?” This may mean that the time of your normal service or services will need to be adjusted. (Here we are not talking about Sunrise Services often held as an extra service on Easter.)
All churches — no matter what their past attendance has been — should assume they are going to have more Easter worshipers than ever before and make plans accordingly.
One of the great benefits of adding a service, even if a modification of service times is required, is that it makes possible an array of communication options that may not be used otherwise. Indeed, such worship schedule changes require widespread publicity about the times and offers an opportunity to explain that you are making the change to permit more people to experience Easter worship.
One church that doubled their Easter attendance did so by a combination of adding a second worship service along with a telephone calling plan to all church members and their visitors from the past year. Previously, the church had difficulty in recruiting volunteers to make calls on behalf of church activities. For this project, they had no trouble. The callers felt as if they were doing the members a favor rather than asking them for something. The message was, “Next Sunday is Easter, and we wanted to make sure all our members know that we will have two worship services instead of one. In order to make it possible for more to worship on this special day, there will be services at 9 and 11 a.m.”
All churches — no matter what their past attendance has been — should assume they are going to have more Easter worshipers than ever before and make plans accordingly. Even if your church is a long way from needing to add services on a regular basis, Easter may provide an opportunity to schedule an extra service to reach more people with the Easter message.
This material is adapted from Overflow: Increase Worship Attendance and Bear More Fruit (Abingdon, 2013) by Lovett H. Weems, Jr., and Tom Berlin and used by permission. The book is available through Cokesbury and Amazon.
- Overflow: Increase Worship Attendance and Bear More Fruit by Lovett H. Weems, Jr., and Tom Berlin
- Reaching Others Through Worship Video Tool Kit
- Palms in the Park on Palm Sunday by Laura Heikes