Pastors' Forum


Easter Evaluation

I would love to hear feedback about how other churches do their Easter weekend services. What do they do that’s special, different? How many churches add extra services for that weekend? What kind of special advertising or marketing is done? How do pastors get the congregation involved in inviting guests? Are pastors generally pleased with the results they see on Easter weekend? Are there any strategies that churches have to get Easter visitors to come back on a regular basis? Based on your experience from this and previous Easter weekends, what do you plan to do different next year?


Pastor Mike Cameneti – Canton, OH

Q. What do they do that’s special, different?
A. Our Easter services don’t vary much from our regular weekend worship experiences, except for the time immediately before the altar call. On Easter we usually incorporate a compelling song or video to drive home the point of the message, which always focuses on God’s great love for us, His mercy, His forgiveness, and His grace.

Q. How many churches add extra services for that weekend?
A. Since moving into our new facility in 2010, we’ve not needed to add services, but we are considering adding a service for 2017.

Q. What kind of special advertising or marketing is done?
A. The thrust of our advertising is done through our congregation.

  • We provide social media imagery for our church family to share on Instagram and Facebook.
  • We make Easter service invitation cards available to our church family to hand out to those they invite.
  • We provide posters for our church family to post at their places of employment, business, and so forth.

Outside of our congregation, we do a billboard run in the local area and we advertise our Easter services at the close of our television broadcast and on our website.

Q. How do pastors get the congregation involved in inviting guests?
A. We have created an invite culture in our church. Our staff and volunteers are devoted to making everyone feel welcome. In turn, that gives our congregation the confidence to invite their un-churched friends, neighbors, and co-workers of varying backgrounds, ages, and experiences.

We also provide a visual aid. About a month in advance of Easter, we begin asking our congregation to write down the name(s) of the person(s) they are inviting to Easter service. We’ve filled chalk walls with names and covered crosses in post-its with names. Each week more and more names are added and prayed for by our staff and our congregation.

Lastly, we have the Easter invitation cards our church family can use. We are careful to explain we do not want them to blanket their neighborhoods with the cards or leave them in random places. We want them to give the cards to the people they’ve personally reached out to and invited.

Q. Are pastors generally pleased with the results they see on Easter weekend?
A. In recent years, I am pleased. Our Easter altar calls now result in more salvations and rededications in one weekend than we were seeing in a year’s worth of altar calls in the not-so-distant past.

Q. Are there any strategies that churches have to get Easter visitors to come back on a regular basis?
A. We are intentional about inviting our guests back and have two primary hooks.

1. We schedule a water baptism for the weekend after Easter and announce it during the Easter service. We invite all who respond to the altar call to participate in the baptism as well as anyone in the congregation (attender or visitor) who hasn’t taken that step in their walk with God.

2. We begin a new series the weekend after Easter and advertise that series at the end of the Easter service. We have cards we hand out after service with the series imagery on it to serve as an invitation and a reminder to our guests. The new series is always strategic – something most everyone can relate to.  For example, this year we began the series entitled Labels. It deals with removing the unfavorable labels we may have received from others (or slapped on ourselves) and embracing who God says we are.

Q. Based on your experience from this and previous Easter weekends, what do you plan to do different next year?
A. For 2017, we plan to add an additional service to allow for ample parking and improved traffic flow.

We do a number of things differently on Easter weekend. In the early years, we added a drama component to get people involved. And we learned that we had a lot more come because people will turn out to see their spouses, children, family and friends do things. It helped us add a lot of new people to our fellowship early in the life of our church through connecting well within the relational circle of our members.

Now, we intentionally ramp up advertising, creativity for the service and we encourage everybody to be a ‘bringer.’ Luke 14 makes us a wonderful promise concerning God’s house being full if we’ll bring the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind to experience God’s presence with us. We do add a service because it’s necessary to create room in our Second Sunday morning service.

Jeff & Beth Jones – Portage, MI

Here’s our story…

Ever been frustrated with those who only come to church twice a year? We understand, but over the years, we’ve learned to welcome the Poinsettia and Lily crowd and intentionally cater to them during our Christmas and Easter services. Sure, we want them there every week, but we’re still committed to investing everything we have to present the gospel message to those who show up, even if it’s only once or twice a year. Everybody needs Jesus, so we do our best to make sure they hear about Him in a way they can understand, with the hope that they’ll return in the next few weeks—or down the road, in their time of need.

This past Easter, our Kidamazoo Ministry Staff, led by Richard and Tori Pilger, who have a track record of writing great holiday productions for the VFC kids, wrote an original full-length, live production called, “The Story: To Eternity and Beyond” (loosely based on the hit movie, Toy Story.) They were planning to present this production to all of the kids who would be attending our Kidamazoo Easter services, but when they presented the script, stage design, costume and music concepts, we thought it was so outstanding, we decided to have them do the live production for the entire church!

So, over Easter Weekend—the kids and adults were together in our main sanctuary for all four services and our Kids Ministry team took charge. It was a winner!

We learned a few great lessons:

  • Families love free productions for their kids!
  • Our Kids Ministry staff and volunteers loved the challenge! They felt valued and trusted as they stepped up to the plate to carry the weight of one of our biggest and most important weekends!
  • People respond to “parables!”

Using the Toy Story theme to share the parable of “The Story: To Eternity and Beyond” made it easy for our congregation to invite their friends and easy for their friends to say, “Yes!”

As you know, telling a story with a heavenly meaning is a great way to share the Gospel with others! Using a parable allows a person to identify with one of the characters or the situation that is unfolding while the story is being told. Once they feel connected to the story, they can begin to understand the true spiritual meaning behind the parable.

God’s helped us for years to successfully use parables to communicate our Christmas and Easter messages in a way that many in our community embrace! But this year, we saw a fresh enthusiasm among our congregation when it came to inviting their family, coworkers and friends to Easter. Intentionally creating a nonthreatening environment helped us help our congregation to apply the “each one win one” mindset.

In preparation for this outreach service, we added additional service times (2 on Saturday night and 2 on Sunday morning) and converted our entire atrium and sanctuary into scenes straight out of the movie Toy Story. All of this helped to generate momentum in the weeks leading up to Easter. Members were encouraged to invite their friends and we helped get the word out by purchasing billboards throughout our community, giving away free tickets, going door-to-door with invite hangers and working a social media blitz.

As a result, we saw our highest recorded attendance on a holiday weekend ever, and with hundreds of people raising their hands to receive Christ. Since then, we’ve also added many new families and the fruit is still coming in.

We highly recommend this approach for those who are interested. To do big “parable” productions requires creative and organized leaders, advance planning, an all-in attitude from staff and volunteers and some extra rehearsals, but the pay off in seeing people coming to Christ and the eternal win felt by everyone in the church is more than worth it!

For those interested in more info or in purchasing any of our Kidamazoo Production bundles, we invite you to contact

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA

It has been said that the “average church attender” in the U.S. finds his or her way to a weekend church service 1.4 times per month. When surveyed, these attenders considered themselves to be amongst the group of church supporters they ranked to be as “committed.” With that said, it’s always nice to think about the holiday weekends where we’re sure to be blessed with guests, visitors, walk-ins, AND, thankfully, the committed!

The Holiday Service is an amazing phenomena. At least in my experience, our regulars are joined during the holidays by people from all over the planet. The building seems to magically fill up with friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors…not sure how these people even got in here! As I’ve observed this unfolding of events over the years, and I am in NO WAY complaining about the trend, I came to a very strange realization. (I’d like to think that it was a Rhema-moment! It probably was not … but I’m inclined to just continue to suggest that it WAS!) It became painfully obvious to me that these record breaking crowds were in NO WAY the result of the pre-service planning performed by our team of highly skilled geniuses (we have that team, by the way). However, the masses who were flocking to the joint on the Holiday Weekends … both friend and foe … were coming NOT for our singing Christmas Tree or the insanely powerful sermon series which I was personally launching on any given holiday weekend. We have actually reproduced those same things on other dates without even getting close to the same attendance results. I learned that the people coming to our Easter Weekend were coming because of ONE reason and ONE reason only. Because it was EASTER! The holiday attender doesn’t actually care WHAT we’re doing…he’s just coming. I believe the holiday crowd is one of the easiest crowds to satisfy throughout the year BECAUSE they’re so generous with their expectations. They aren’t planning for weeks to hear or see anything in particular…they’re expectations aren’t nearly as high as their HOPEs. They hope to be welcomed. They hope to be encouraged. They hope to be celebrated. So our only plan for the holiday service is to address those specific hopes. We welcome with enthusiasm. We encourage with passion. We celebrate each and every person. Then we go to work on what we’ve found to be a tremendous breakthrough in our belief system!

Now check this out! I spend as little time as possible prepping for the Holiday Weekend in the traditional sense of preparation. I get my team of highly skilled geniuses to plan THE WEEKEND AFTER. Together, we PLAN, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! We build the best promotional media we can build all with one thought in mind. GET THEM TO COME BACK NEXT WEEKEND! If the average church attender comes to church 1.4 times per month … he should be there on Easter. How do I get him back here NEXT WEEKEND? If the building is going to be filled with guests on Easter … how do I get them back next weekend?

We have had AMAZING success with this philosophy. We went so far as to take the budget that we prepared for Easter, for example, and have started using it to develop the weekend after Easter. Our Easter numbers are still growing. More importantly—that HUGE drop-off that normally occurs the weekend after DOESN’T! We’ve done a number of Weekend After Events now, and I’m totally convinced that we’re making much greater strides by simply allowing the holiday to basically take care of itself and turning our focus to the following opportunity. We’ve given away bicycles to every kid between the ages of 8 and 12 who attended the WEEKEND AFTER. That weekend after was HUGE! Just this year our Weekend After included a petting zoo, pony rides, cotton candy, ice cream and hotdogs, and family photos. HUGE!

This is how we handle the Holidays. We plan the Weekend After! And it WORKS!!!

Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI

Easter Sunday has to be a pastor’s favorite Sunday of the year. For us, it is the most attended Sunday of the year. It’s the weeks that follow that can be filled with frustration because all those guests came, but they all didn’t come back. I have to learn to celebrate more! Celebrate those who came, the lives that were impacted for eternity, those who received hope through Jesus. The new families that came to the church are all worth celebrating. This Easter, I talked to a young mother who told me that she had been to our church before, and her son begs her to come back. She said she has been “shopping” for a church and this is the only church her son begs to come back to. Made me smile.

A couple thoughts about Easter services:

  1. Do something special—but not “too” special. You want to give people a picture of what goes on every Sunday. The lesson learned is: make every weekend service special!
  2. Highlight your children’s ministry during Easter weekend. Family is the number one value of the generation our church is going after, and it will be good for our guests to hear that we highly value and invest in families.
  3. We normally hand out invitations for the congregation to use for Easter Sunday. This year I wrote a little book that we put the invitations in and we gave that book out to the congregation as a tool for them to bless and invite people. They gave out 10,000 books in about two weeks.
  4. As a follow-up to Easter, we will continue to saturate our community with another 10,000 books and invites.
  5. We also plan a series that will speak to guests that will start the week after Easter.
  6. Mostly what we do is to pray and provide an opportunity for each guest to encounter Jesus. There is nothing more compelling to bring people back the next week than an encounter with the supernatural power of God! Lead them to the throne of grace… the only place they can obtain help, mercy, and grace.

Pastor Jerry Weinzierl – Sterling Heights, MI

I would love to hear feedback about how other churches do their Easter weekend services. What do they do that’s special, different? 

First, we make Palm Sunday a big deal (this year with a special choir and communion).

Second, we now (the last 6 years) have a Good Friday service from 12-1pm. It involves our Children’s Ministry Worship Team, Jr. High Worship Team, and Sr. High Worship Team. Then, we finish with the adult team. I only welcome and speak about 7-10 minutes about something like, ‘What’s So Good About It?’ There are scripture readings between each worship set that reads through the story of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. The idea is to get every department involved, and they will invite family and friends to come watch their part. It works VERY well.

Easter Weekend was prefaced by three weeks of ‘push’ with special printed invite cards and a humorous video each week (Skit Guys) showing people how NOT to invite someone to church. Then I verbally push at the close of the service. Our DNA has become such that people know if you invite someone to Grace, they’ll be given a clear explanation of the gospel and an opportunity to become a Christian. A couple dozen just about every weekend do so.

Our Creative Team plans out the whole stretch of services sometime in October. They walk through the theme and any special segments. I’m never a part of these meetings. We add lots of special effect lighting, change up certain aspects of the service order, and this year, they (Creative Team) asked me to do a formal ‘come to the front’ altar call on Easter Weekend. We had approximately 200 people come forward in the three services. It was dramatic and emotional! A GREAT Easter at Grace!!!

Pastor Jack Yurus – West Harrison, NY

I will start out by saying, I am an evangelist at heart that God called to be a pastor. With that said, I would like to share a few thoughts.

If you live in an area like New York where the majority of people are Catholic, Easter morning may not be the best time to do an evangelistic outreach. It is one of the two times people go to church. Whatever you do should not conflict with their services.

The second point that I would like to bring out, after many years of studying this subject, is that a very high percentage of people (probably in the 90’s) come to church because a friend invited them. Most people already invited the friends they are in touch with. So the challenge now is how do we get people to make new friends? Eavesdropping—secretly listen to a conversation. The best way to meet people is to be aware of what is going on around you. Look to meet people, not just convert them or preach to them. It is like hunting. You don’t just take a gun and start shooting. We have to teach people how to be led by the Spirit. He will let you know who to talk to and what to say.

Another observation I made over the years is that what is taught and said from the pulpit is a good starting point, but if you want people to really get it, you have to take smaller groups where you can answer questions. Then you have to go with them and show them by precept and examples. There are programs and other factors in growing a church, but the best way is to train and teach people that they are called to the ministry of reconciliation and that we all are commanded to make disciples. It is not just for the people with outgoing personalities.