7 Sure Ways to Ensure an Incredible Experience This Easter

Easter Experience Someone once said that Easter is the “Superbowl” of Christianity – the biggest event of the year.

Typically, on this day we have no problem attracting people to our churches.  However, the challenge before us is to create such an experience that our visitors increase their visits from one time of year to multiple times a year — to eventually become active members of the Church.

As pastors, we MUST commit to planning earlier for our Easter services.  Treating this day like any other Sunday would be a missed evangelistic opportunity.

Many churches that are seeing increases in membership, plan for these services a year in advance.  This demonstrates that they are being not only evangelistic, but ‘intentional.’

With just a couple of weeks before Easter, I believe we still can put together some new things to have a successful evangelistic Easter Service.

 

Here are 7 things we can do right away to ensure great experience this Easter:

Theologians – Making Mountains out of MoleHills?

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This blog addresses a few criticism I received on a play I wrote and produced called, “The Cup.”  The drama ran on Thursday and Friday of Holy week (Easter).  This year marked its second year in production.  I am thrilled to report it was packed house on both nights.

The play depicted Jesus time and agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I unpacked the figurative ‘Cup’ that Jesus asked God to remove from Him – exploring the types of sin that was in each of the cups with special attention given to the last cup that brought Jesus down to His knees making Him sweat drops of blood.

God really showed up as we attempted to display Jesus’ love, His compassion and ultimate sacrifice for you and for me.

Of course there is always a critic – and that’s okay!

Now let me say it this way, I (we) received many compliments about how great the production was.  It warmed my heart, as well as the cast of plus 60 and all those who worked behind the scenes.

But there were those who found fault with the production.   Let me me first say that “We won’t grow if everyone is constantly saying to us, “How Great Thou Art.”   You can not improve upon perfection because perfection is the ultimate. And I admit I am no where near perfection.

Constructive criticism is always helpful because the motivation behind it is that the person really wants to see you do better.  But then there are what I call  ‘Modern Day Pharisees – MDPs.’ In biblical times Pharisees gave Jesus a hard time rebuking Him for not washing His hands, not making His disciples fast or healing people on the Sabbath Day.

In other words, they were sweating over the small stuff!

Explore Creative Ways to Educate on Tithing

Giving

Telling people that it is their duty to pay tithes and offering and demanding that they give can be met with some resistance.  Consider some softer and more creative ways and approaches to educate your congregations on the subject of tithing. You can consider a tithing story before taking up your offering.

Here is an example:

The Pastor and the Successful Young Man

The story went similar to this.  There once was a man who was mentored by a pastor at a very young age. The pastor taught him how to tithe, he took him to the altar one day and pronounced a blessing over him that God would always take care of him for his obedience.

When the man was a boy at the tender age of five,  he received his first $1 for an allowance and proudly put in his .10 cents.  As he got older he got $5 and devotedly put in his .50 cents.  He got his first job working yard work and got $50 and without question put in his $5.00.  He then got a job working in a restaurant and received $200 and obediently tithed $20.

Well the story goes on to say the young man  grew up, graduated from college, sought out employment and continued to advance in his chosen profession. The man was well traveled, but still kept in touch with the pastor and remained faithful to his commitment to tithe.

One day the man was about to write his tithe check when it dawned on him just how much he was giving to the church.

He was now making in excess of $250,000 a year – that would be $25,000 to the church!

He quickly got on the phone and asked to meet with the pastor. The two went into the sanctuary.  The man told the pastor how faithful he had been tithing ALL of these years – since he was five  years old and that he never had a problem with giving before.

The pastor listened intently merely saying, “Hmm. I see.”  The man continued, “Pastor, do you know how much that is? It’s $25,000!”  The pastor said for the two of them to go back to the altar to pray.  The two went and knelt down at the altar to seek guidance.

The pastor began to pray, “Lord, this young man has been faithful to you since the age of five when he was given his first dollar.

check writingYou have blessed him with increase all of these years and he has grown up to be a successful young man.  But now, Father, he is having some uncertainties about his giving.  So we ask you God to reduce his pay back to the amount where he had no worries, but…”

Before the pastor could finish, the man jumped up, pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for $26,000.

Explore Creative Ways to Educate our Congregation on Tithing

This story could be shared as in just story telling from your pulpits or you could even put together a quick skit to give your congregation a visual aid.  It could be as minimal as getting (2) characters and a narrator to as elaborate as getting (7) people – getting a child to represent times the young man had no trouble giving.

The point is this story whether told or acted out in a skit could be done in five minutes before offering and would resonate with your congregation for a lifetime and will most likely yield a better outcome.

Do you use creative approaches in educating your congregation on the subject of tithing? Care to share?

 

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Sermons: How Long is Too Long?

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Sermons: How Long is Too Long?

Just how long should your average Sunday morning sermon be? There is no real ‘right’ answer to this question because it largely depends on you and the congregation you serve.

I say this because I have heard well-prepared pastors speak over an hour and have left me wanting more. Then again, I have heard pastors speak as few as 10-15 minutes and it seemed like the longest sermon ever.

On-Line Survey Reports

You may find the results of this online survey which reported how long pastors typically preach, of interest, especially in determining where you rate compared to the average.

  • 49% preached 20-25 minutes
  • 44% preached 30-45 minutes
  • 7% preached greater than 45 minutes

Facts About Human Behavior & Response

I thought it would be helpful is sharing some research about human behavior and response in order to assist us in getting a grip on what is reasonable considering the times we live in.

No one knows people like the media giants, especially in terms of what it takes to get people to buy. They study human behavior and responses to a variety of sensory inputs such as sound, sight, color, etc.  Did you know that 40 years ago commercials use to be as long as 90 seconds and now the average commercial is only 15 seconds long? That’s more than an 80% reduction!

Can you guess why?

If you guessed budget you are partly correct, but the main reason they cut the length of commercials is because of the shorten attention span of the public viewers. 

Attention span is the amount of time that a person can concentrate on a task before becoming distracted.

It seems people would glance at the commercial and move on whether it was for a bathroom break, to get a snack or to change the channel.  The media moguls had to make the necessary adjustments based on people’s behavior, and had to come to terms with the approaches which ONCE worked were NO longer working.

As a result, they created more attention grabbing clips, used clever and more innovative ways to attract views to their products all in less time. This forced them to focus on what was important.

Shrinking Attention Span – Growing Epidemic

If the world has determined that the attention span of its viewers is shrinking overall and has made certain adjustments, doesn’t it make sense that the CHURCH would have to do NO less?ADD-Squirrel

We are living in a mobile media technological age where the Internet, smart phones, tablets and computers are all competing for our attention.

Gone are the days where we can even expect people to give us two hours of their undivided attention as we preach long auditory sermons from our pulpits.

I read an article that stated that we are processing information at 400 times the rate of our ancestors. Everything is quick and instant. We text messages in short hand and tweet in 140 characters or less.  It is no wonder that more and more people young as well as old are being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.

A Different Generation

We are in front of a different generation of people – people who are consumed with social media which, by the way, is ONLY 8 years old.

Don’t let them get bored or believe me they will be Facebooking, texting, tweeting, etc. in your church services or worse yet, you will simply start seeing your attendance decline where they have stopped coming altogether.

That being said, let’s be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. I challenge you to be like the media giants to a degree.  Find creative ways to respond to human behavior.

Here are some suggestions

  1. Always prepare and plan your sermons
  2. Aim for a goal of 20-25 minute sermons
  3. Consider some visual aids (props or video clips) to accompany your sermons
  4. Consider implementing a 2 minute skit before or into your sermon
  5. A good rule of thumb is for a 2 hour service, 25% dedicated to ‘audible’ sermon (30 minutes tops)

How long are your sermons? Do you know many pastors who regularly preach greater than 45 minutes and keep their congregation’s attention?  If so, are they using any of the above suggestions?

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8 Ideas for a Great Church Holiday Service

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8 Ideas for a Great Church Holiday Service

As stated in previous posts, holiday services are excellent evangelistic opportunities for any church.  I read a blog that said if services were football games, Christmas and Easter would be the Super Bowls.

If we want to make sure we take advantage of these types of days,in terms of moving a visitor into a member, it is important to keep in mind the individuals that come out only three times a year.

It is important for them to be ‘wowed’ by what they see, what they hear and what they experience.  If your program is set up like your average Sunday morning service, they will call themselves doing their religious duty until the next significant holiday.

Here are some ideas that you should consider in determining your holiday service format.

1) Don’t be Afraid to Decorate

Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year,  There’s a sense of joy and energy in the air. A decorated lobby gives visitors the sense that the church is engaged with the holiday spirit.

Many churches embrace the spirit of festivities by decorating their entrance way of the lobby with a Christmas tree full of lights surrounded by beautifully decorated empty gift boxes.

Some even decorate their sanctuaries with the altar filled with beautiful azaleas, candles and a manger scenes.

2) Assign Your Best Greeters at the Door

Assign a team of people to greet visitors as they arrive at your church. Make sure the people you choose to do this job have the natural gift of hospitality.

Greeting people as they enter the facility is more than a handshake and a smile.  It is an opportunity to express God’s love through Christ and helps to set the tone for the upcoming worship service.

3) Evaluate Your Music

The use of contemporary, energetic music goes a long way.  You may have have a habit of not getting involved in the area of music, but I encourage you to get involved on these days.

You want music with a messages of joy and hope.  On these days make sure you work together with your musical team to come up with a plan for this service.

4) Calling All Actors

Consider infusing a skit or a monologue into this service.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  A five minute skit or monologue can go a long way in helping people understand the message.

5) Story Tellers wanted

Consider reading  a relevant story. Jesus told lots of stories because they work to help people understand the message.

Make sure that the one who reads is gifted in interpretive reading that will engage the interest of the congregation.

6) Lights, Camera, Action!

A 2-3 minute relevant video clip will also serve to go a long way in setting the stage for your sermon.  Web sites such as WingClips, Sermonspice, BlueFishTv  offer some excellent options to choose from.

7) Preach!

Well planned and relevant sermons are essential to the service. This is worth saying because some pastors take the position that they know the Christmas and Easter story inside and out and that they don’t need to prepare.

Spending time in prayer will allow God to help stimulate your creative juices to provide the message with more impact.

8) Assemble a ‘Creative’ Team

Consider the input of others by assembling a ‘Creative’ Team. At minimum, the following people need to be a part of this team: your music team, drama team, audio/video team, assistant pastor and or lay ministry team.

Tell the team that you want this to be the best Christmas, Easter or Mother’s Day event ever.  Let them know that what you are thinking and your theme if you have it.

Inviting others into creative process will yield you positive results.  Soliciting the input of others will take your ministry to a whole other level.

 

What other ideas has your church implemented to ensure a great holiday service?

 

 

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