by Karen Krueger
“Treat everyone like they are coming home for family dinner, and you’re just happy to see them and catch up. That feeling will dwell deep… and God can do a lot with it,” observed Emily Gantert in a discussion among ELCA communicators about congregations preparing for Easter Sunday.
Statistics indicate you will probably have the joy of sharing space at the table. “More Americans search for ‘church’ around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second,” quotes Scott Vaughan using Google Trends data reporting a 2004-2013 Pew Research Center study. “Tidy up,” is one of his tips in a recent post for churches thinking about hospitality.* “Visually, prepare to make a great first impression.”
Glance over this checklist of more ideas for getting ready, gleaned from online discussions.
- Check your signage – Road signs, church signs, entrance labels, parking spaces… While you’re at it, do you have designated visitor parking? Nice!
- Listed time accuracy – Web site, Facebook page, phone message… All need to clearly tell people when to come and what to expect.
- “Paper” for participation – Enough hymnals, pew envelopes, bulletins, whatever you use… Is your service easy to follow for non-regulars, even those who may not know the Lord’s Prayer by heart?
- Ushers/Greeters – Warm welcomes, plan for overflow, grace for late-comers…. “You never want guests approaching a closed door – unsure of what’s happening on the other side,” says Vaughan who thinks ushers/greeters may want to move outside the front doors. Might even be a good idea to show up 30 minutes early this week, he adds.
- Regular Sunday routines – Sunday School, Adult Forum… Help it be clear to all if these are happening on Easter Sunday, and if so, direct interested visitors (children and adults) to a warm reception.
- Organize Facebook users within your congregation – Ask them to repost something created by the congregation or create their own invitation to your church services including a link to your church website. “Saturate your community,” writes Vaughan when expanding on the idea.
The synod placed an ad in the Washington Post last week that will run again on Saturday before Easter to encourage people to find your doors. May the Easter lilies and our preparations trumpet the Good News.
* “Will your church be ready for guests on Easter Sunday?”from Scott Vaughan Communications, LLC (4/10/17)