In December we sing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” And when we do, preachers know we’re talking about Christmas…and it is the most wonderful time of year. But for a pastor and communicator of the gospel, what is the most dreaded time of the year? My answer may surprise you, but I believe it is Easter. Think about it. There is something innate in all of us – since this is the most important event in human history and the apex of all we believe – that our Easter sermon has to be our best sermon ever! You talk about pressure! The greatest day merits the greatest sermon – and the greatest sermon produces the greatest invitation with our invitation counseling rooms full of new believers who have just heard the most glorious truth there is. That Jesus Christ is alive – He died, was buried, and rose again to live in our hearts – and by faith through grace, our lives can be changed forever!
Think about it. Talk about making sure you bring your A-Game. If you nail it and the message is memorable and impactful, the reward is that many of them will be back at Christmas. How’s that for pressure? And speaking of the Invitation for folks to make an eternal decision for Jesus Christ, let’s be honest…it’s just you and me here. Don’t we walk away feeling we gave our best, but asking whether there was any fruit for our labor? Now don’t get me wrong – our sermons are not judged by who and how many come forward. But still, on the greatest day in Christianity when our churches are filled to capacity, wouldn’t we like to see our altars full? Sure we would. But what if I told you there is something you can do that would produce that kind of result?
For the past two years, we’ve taken these two steps, and to the glory of God, we have seen hundreds saved on Easter. No tricks, no gimmicks, no manipulations.
1. Change of perception
After you’ve preached the good news of the glorious gospel message, what if you changed from the paradigm of walking forward to walking backward. As folks are leaving the worship center, are they greeted by smiling hosts and hostesses with information about your church, available counseling, a gift, a Bible and a “next steps” guide for follow-up?
2. Commitment of planning
The people are there. You have presented the Gospel. They really do want life change, and they want to tell someone about it. Here’s how you can plan for the response.
1. Put together an Easter Task Force for prayer, planning, and particulars.
2. Purchase some tents and station them at the exits. Staff the stations with friendly, godly folks who greet well and will make those who come to the tent feel loved and accepted. Put the greeters in matching shirts, with a name tag and a big, inviting smile.
3. Have gift bags with a Bible and information about your church describing your ministries, your next sermon series and an invitation to come again at each station.
4. At the conclusion of the sermon, give a clear concise gospel presentation, and invite them right there in their seat to invite Jesus Christ to step out of heaven and step into their heart. We explain what they have just done and that Jesus said, “If you confess Me before men, I will confess you before the Father.”
5. Place decision cards in the pew racks, or do a tear-out section in the bulletin. We ask everyone to tear it out at the same time. Their decision may be a prayer request, or they might like to be contacted for more information, or they may have made a decision for Christ today. Everyone fills it out. It only takes a minute, and they can even fill it out after the service if they choose.
Then we ask those who prayed the prayer today, on the count of three, to stand right where they are, so that we all can rejoice with them. “Are you ready? 1 – 2 – 3.” Just watch the response! As they stand, your folks will clap and shout and rejoice. Then we invite everyone to stand with them, and I say, “If you prayed that prayer today, on your way out you will see some tents and hosts with matching shirts and name tags. Just take your card to them. They know what it is. We have a “next steps” guide and a Bible for you as our gift.”
Of course, you and your church can modify any of this to meet your specific situation and culture. But let me say this. The friends who brought them will help them. Your pastors can also be available at the tent stations to assist if needed. And just watch what God does.
Remember, it is good news! People do want to respond.
You’ve worked hard hearing from God and preaching what He laid on your heart. On this one Sunday, they’ll make decisions like every other Sunday, with one exception. They are walking out to make this life-changing decision – not walking forward.
Try it. Pray – Plan – Preach – and Party. This is going to be your Best Day Ever and your greatest Easter weekend service yet!
If you have questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll help you in any way we can. Just remember this. He is Risen…He is Risen Indeed! Have a great Easter!
Published May 30, 2018