Checklist for Easter Sunday

1. Make sure your service time is pinned to the top of your social media pages and websites.
Don’t make it difficult for people to find out vital information like your service times. People who aren’t in the habit of attending church need this information.

2. Take a fresh look at your church’s interior and exterior appearance.
Invite someone who doesn’t attend your church to take a look on Saturday. He or she might see things you don’t see because you’re so used to it.

3. Double-check signage and the welcome center.
Remember, visitors don’t know how things work or where things are. Make sure you make it obvious.

4. Make sure greeters are assigned to entrances.
This is where the extroverts come in handy! Train your greeters to be the kind of people you’d want to meet if you were visiting. It’s not rocket science. You know the people-persons!

5. Create a communication card.
This is your opportunity to learn who these people are and what decisions they have made.

6. Avoid insider speak.
Stay away from language that is coded in the culture of your church. Put your practical, down-to-earth words in the ears of those that don’t usually attend.

7. Gifts are always a good thing. Make them connect to the theme.
Everyone loves gifts, but they are extra-effective if they fit some aspect of your message.

8. Don’t make Easter Sunday so unusual that people have “worship lash” next time they come back.
Easter is special but stay in your lane. In other words, don’t use elements you aren’t using on a monthly basis. The Easter service shouldn’t be a false impression of what you usually do. Make it excellent but not outlandish.

9. Tease them this Sunday.
This is a great opportunity to share ONE thing you’ll do in April.  A sermon series is a great promotional place to start.

10. Don’t forget the main thing.
Don’t forget the main thing – the tomb is empty! Everything you do in an Easter service should revolve around that one revolutionary fact.

11. Follow up!
Use the information you get about those who visit. If you don’t follow up, chances are, you won’t see them until maybe … Christmas.

12. But don’t be creepy.
While you are following up, make sure you aren’t breeching personal space. Give them some room to reflect and find ways to do follow-up that aren’t offensive.

13. Give members tools to promote.
Promoting your church is inexpensive these days! Give your members tools to let people know about your church including art, memes and electronic content they can post and email.

14. Don’t jump Snake River Canyon.
In other words, don’t over-prepare with lots of tricky technical effects that are hard for your people to pull off. For instance, don’t give a guy a five-minute monologue if he has never acted before.

15. Create a thread (in other words, be intentional).
Plan your worship thematically. Weave your worship around the theme of the message. Don’t be afraid to be multi-sensory in your worship.

16. Pray over your space.
Open your worship area on Saturday so that prayer warriors can intercede for everything that will happen on Sunday.

17. Invite change.
Pastors and worship leaders, ask yourself, “What are we challenging the people to change about their lives?” Look at the red letters in your Bible, Jesus is all about change.

18. No one-up-ing allowed.
After Sunday is done, don’t brag on yourself, your church or your attendance. Brag on God. It really is all about Jesus.

Enjoy this free ebook! You might find some things you can use year-round.

Did Jesus Really Have to Die?

With the arrival of Easter season comes a renewed public interest in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. While many pastors are faithful in preaching the crucifixion of Christ each week, most will put sermon series on hold to craft a sermon dedicated entirely to his death and resurrection. However, one thing pastors would do well to remember in their sermon prep is not just that he died, but why he died.

A Question in Need of an Answer

In our culture, there is a prevailing ignorance of sin, its power, and justice. One question I hear frequently goes something like this: “If God is so merciful and forgiving, why did Jesus have to die? Couldn’t He just forgive our sins without the need for His Son to die?” The question is not as far-fetched as it may seem to our modern Christian sensibilities. If asked honestly, it deserves a thoughtful and thorough response – more thorough than a single blog post can offer.

There exist examples in the Gospels of sins being forgiven without someone dying. At one point early in his ministry, Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic before healing him (Mt 9:1-8; Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26). In Luke 7, Jesus forgives a sinful woman then offers a parable of two debtors who have been forgiven their debt (Lk 7:36-50). Jesus also commands his disciples to forgive the sins of their brothers (Mk 11:25; Luke 17:4). In each of these settings, which are but a few examples, we get the sense that sins were forgiven at that moment, not at some future date.

Before we run to the Old Testament sacrificial system, we should note that not every sacrifice required the death of an animal. Even an offering of grain could be given as a sin offering if one was too poor to own any animal (Lv 5:11). On the Day of Atonement, one of the two great festivals the death of Jesus is often associated with (the other being Passover) one goat is sacrificed on the altar while another carries the sins of the nation into the wilderness and not put to death (Lv 16). How do we reconcile this with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians? “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3).

One early influential Christian* argued that since sin brings us under the power of death (Gn 2:17; Rm 7:9; Jm 1:15) repentance and forgiveness is not enough to reverse the process of death at work in our bodies and undo the curse. Something more must be accomplished. A final death by one who lived outside the curse – and only by the one who is the author of life Himself – would be enough to sum up the deaths of all people and break the power of the curse. (Gal 3:13) In doing so, He would restore mankind to its rightful position as image bearers who fellowship with and worship God.

We who believe in Christ share in His death and resurrection. Paul says in Romans 6:

Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Made Alive for a Purpose

The cross of Christ is about more than just being pardoned for our everyday foibles and follies then sent on our merry way. Rather, it is the startling image of God joining Himself with humanity in our plight. We are not merely onlookers to the crucifixion, but partakers in it. And “if we died with Him, we will also live with Him” (2 Tm 2:11). By joining with Jesus in faith, we share in his life, death, and resurrection. We have forsaken the glory and calling of God, submitted ourselves to other powers, and brought the curse of death upon ourselves. (Gn 2:17; Rm 1:21-22) But on the cross, the penalty of death was paid, and the powers we were once beholden to were put to open shame (Col 2:13-15).

With his victory on the cross, Christ began the work of reconciling the world to himself again (Col 1:20), a process which will not be completed until he returns again. Revelation 22 perfectly mirrors Genesis 1. Creation is made new again, the Garden of Eden is restored, and all who are joined with Christ are to have dominion over the earth, just as we were created to do. (Gn 1:28; Rev 22:5).

The death of Christ gives us the restoration of purpose – bearers of God’s image who fill the world with the knowledge and worship of God.

*Athanasius was a 4th Century leader and church father. His life long battle in defense of the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, and Scripture resulted in several exiles from Roman emperors. Today, he is regarded as one of the most important figures in early church history. If you want to learn more, his work, On the Incarnation, is a short, easy to read book on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. 

Silent Saturday

It’s what’s commonly referred to as “Holy Week,” the week leading up the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We just celebrated Palm Sunday and later this week is Maundy Thursday, which gives way to Good Friday, and last, but certainly not least, is Easter Sunday.

In the midst of this busy, significant week, let me suggest a new day for you and I living on this side of the resurrection – Silent Saturday. Allow me to elaborate …

Two thousand years ago the events leading up to what we now call Easter were a whirlwind – to say the least. And things certainly didn’t turn out the way those early Christ-followers envisioned. So there they were, after a bizarre week that began with a celebration and ended with a crucifixion. It was Saturday. The crowds gone. Their minds and hearts numb. And they were not sure what would come next.

Now, on this side of history, we know what’s next – but they didn’t.

Our lives are often the same way – crazy busy – and sometimes bizarre. Our smartphones light up with one notification after another. Great anticipation is often replaced by great disappointment in our careers, in our relationships and even with God.

And then comes Saturday.

Friday was like nothing we’ve ever experienced and the promise of Sunday hasn’t arrived.

So this Saturday, take a moment and be silent. Ask God to calm your heart, your mind and your spirit. Be honest – tell Him that things are not working out like you thought they would. Let Him know you have questions, doubts, and even fears.

But during your talk with God, be sure and include the words of Jesus when He said “not my will but your will be done.”

Then – be silent. Be still. Ask God to give you ears to hear what the Spirit will say.

After a turbulent Friday and before Sunday arrives, Silent Saturday can remind you of who He is and prepare you to receive the power and the promise of Easter Sunday.

The Resurrection Changed Everything

Think about all the ways that the resurrection of Christ turned the world upside-down.

It birthed the largest people of faith in the world – what we call the church.

It changed our calendars.

The resurrection eventually turned the Roman Empire upside down and created a completely new way of engaging with God. The resurrection announced that the barrier between God and man had been broken and we could walk in grace with Him.

Because of the Good News we celebrate this season, as Louisiana Baptists, we’ve made a commitment to do everything we possibly can to reach our state with this message of grace.

In 2013, we committed to action plans to advance the gospel and assist our churches. We called it 2020. As Easter approaches, it’s a great time to update and remind you on all the ways we as Louisiana Baptists are seeking to change our world. If you are a Southern Baptist and your church gives to the cooperative program, be encouraged that God is working through these efforts.

KAIROS # 1Equip churches with a proven evangelistic church growth process.
KAIROS # 2Assist churches with the development of a disciple-making process.
KAIROS # 3Challenge congregations to regularly and intentionally promote Biblical financial stewardship.
KAIROS # 4Engage Louisiana Baptists congregations in compassion ministries.
KAIROS # 5Partner with churches, associations and other Southern Baptist entities to plant healthy, culturally-relevant, biblically-sound, multiplying churches that seek to fulfill the Great Commission.
KAIROS # 6Launch Here for You – a multi-year, multi-platform media strategy designed to provide every person in Louisiana the opportunity to say yes to a relationship with Jesus.
KAIROS # 7Provide training for leaders and churches in the use of social media and the internet.
KAIROS # 8Create mentoring and ministry networks.
KAIROS # 9Increase financial support through the Cooperative Program and the special mission offerings.
KAIROS # 10Lead Louisiana Baptists to maximize their collective influence in the arena of moral and cultural concerns.

It’s been astounding to see so many ministers, churches and ministries working in concert to be more effective and compelling so that the good news of the resurrection could be experienced by more people.

Making Big Plans for Easter

Celebration Church’s St. Bernard Campus has grown from 110 in 2009 to 485 in 2016 in weekly average attendance. Easter Sunday attendance has grown from 206 to 1,380 in that time frame, serving as a great catalyst for overall growth. Patrick Eagan, Celebration St. Bernard’s Campus Pastor, recently spent some time coaching church planters in the Baton Rouge area on how to make the most out of Easter. Get Patrick’s Notes HERE. This can serve as a great playbook for planning Easter or other Big Attendance weekends at your church. Patrick said, “Most of us will not be able to double our weekend attendance by simply praying harder and trying harder.” We need a plan! Here are a few great starter questions for planning from Patrick’s presentation:

  1. What would it look like at your church if the fullness of the power of God met the fullness of the efforts of man?
  2. If you successfully doubled your weekend attendance, would there be room for everyone?
  3. Is it possible to add worship services to your usual line up?
  4. What is the long-term growth vision for your church?
  5. What is the challenging but reasonable goal for your end of year attendance?
  6. How will you identify and follow-up with guests on Easter Sunday?
  7. What specific elements of the worship service will encourage guests to come back?
  8. What post-Easter events can we leverage guests toward?

Get the whole doc and do what you can to get ready for a big weekend of planting seeds and growing God’s kingdom. Always grateful for Celebration Church and their generosity of lessons learned and best practices.

Free Easter Resources: Seven Last Words

During this Easter season we are praying that the message of forgiveness will shake the lives of the unchurched in your house of worship. We want to help you in any way we can. On this page you will find tools that are absolutely free to use and modify in any way you see fit.

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we realize the eternal importance of this season for two reasons.

  1. It is the complete expression of our faith. The price has been paid, the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive!
  2. We are know that if someone who is unchurched is to come to church one Sunday out of the year, chances are, it will be Easter Sunday.

Seven Last Words – PowerPoint

Here’s a PowerPoint presentation of text and graphics based on the seven last words of Jesus.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Free backgrounds are also available that can be used on PowerPoint, ProPresenter, Keynote or any other presentation software.

Let’s spread the news with excellence. He’s alive!

Download Seven Last Words Powerpoint .ppt

Background Images

Want to download the high resolution background images used in the slideshow? Simply right click on the image below and click “Save-As”, or download the zip file below.

Download Complete Easter Image Pack .zip

For more free Easter resources, check out these links.

Easter Sunday Reading Creative Presentation

Easter Sunday Reading: But He Lives

Responsive readings are many times boring, awkward and confusing for worshipers. Here’s an easy worship addition that requires no shuffling of pages and very little direction.

Use this easy responsive worship piece on Easter Sunday morning.

All the congregation needs to say is simply: “But He lives!” This energetic moment gives everyone the opportunity to say what Easter is all about. If the leader reads it enthusiastically the worshipers will follow his or her lead!

Feel free to download and print the script from your computer. To save it to your computer, right click on the download link and click “Save As”.

Download But He Lives . PDF

He Is Risen: An Easter Collection

He Is Risen! And it’s time to celebrate it! We’ve collected and created beautiful background slides, compelling sermon illustrations and more to help your church celebrate this Easter week. Discover a resource!

Videos

web-thecross

The Cross

Runtime: 3:20
From Vimeo: Watch a beautiful masterpiece come to life as you hear the story of how Jesus gave his all so we might live. “His eyes looks on in compassion, for regardless for what these people had done His love for them remained.”
Cost: Free
Download HD or SD

The Cross

web-whoisjesus

Who is Jesus?

Runtime: 2:49
What makes Jesus different? Why do we gather for Easter? What does it matter to you? This quick hitting video beautifully speaks the truth of Jesus through many voices.
Cost: Free
Download HD or SD

Who Is Jesus

web-nobodybutjesus

Nobody but Jesus

Great opening for worship from The Skit Guys
Runtime: 2:10
From Sermon Spice: “Jesus lived a short life, but in that time, he did so much. Perhaps even more than his accomplishments though, what is so profound is his unique ability to be everything we needed and be everything that no one else could. Based on a sermon by Sam Storms”
Cost: $19.98

Nobody but Jesus

 

web-nottheend

Not The End Collection

Awesome modern narrative of Easter featuring Gungor music. This is a collection that can work well for Good Friday and or Easter Sunday Morning.
From Sermon Spice: “The three days of Easter contain the highest and lowest points of humanity. Through a gripping telling of Peter’s story, “Not The End” takes us through those 3 days and allows us to connect with the human condition and the hope of a living savior. Featuring music by Gungor.”

Not The End Collection

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Return of The King

Runtime 4:15
From Worship House Media: “A deeply moving Easter video. Jesus was not the king his people were looking for. Through the lens of the Triumphal Entry, The Cross, and the Garden, “Return of the King” is a powerful proclamation of the power of the resurrection. Long live the king!”
Cost: $19

Return of The King

web-risensavior

Risen Savior Welcome Loop

Add this repeating welcome loop to your introduction on Easter Sunday morning!
ShareFaith.com: “Go and tell the others, I am alive! Proclaim that Jesus is risen using the bright and hopeful image of Christ’s victory in this carefully crafted Easter church intro video.”
Membership Site

Risen Savior Welcome Loop

PowerPoints & Backgrounds

sevenlastwords

Seven Last Words

Here’s a PowerPoint presentation of text and graphics based on the seven last words of Jesus.

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we realize the eternal importance of this season for two reasons. 1. It is the complete expression of our faith. The price has been paid, the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive! 2. We are know that if someone who is unchurched is to come to church one Sunday out of the year, chances are, it will be Easter Sunday.

Seven Last Words

Creative Reading / Responsive Worship

easter-reading-lives

But He Lives

Easter Sunday Reading: Responsive readings are many times boring, awkward and confusing for worshipers. Here’s an easy worship addition that requires no shuffling of pages and very little direction.

But He Lives

passion-web

Passion

Check out this simple and yet powerful remembrance of Christ’s life and sacrifice. You’ll have a powerful presentation that refuses to be forgotten! This drama could be performed as a shadow play and a dramatic reading.

Passion

Easter Week Communion Service Plan

This brief multi-sensory worship plan can be used on Good Friday or Palm Sunday.

Scripture Reading & Prayer

Pastor: Jesus said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

Reader #1: (Praying) Lord, I don’t understand how You, in all Your holiness, could offer Your body as a sacrifice for mine.

Reader #2: I’ve made so many mistakes.

Reader #3: You died for me.

Prayer: When I stand before the righteous throne of God, You will cover my iniquities because before I was even born, the price was already paid. You laid down Your body as a sacrifice for my guilt. I stand clean because You stood in my place.

Prayer: There was never a greater love than the love You had for us when You laid down Your life for Your friend.

Pastor: While they were eating, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take, eat, this is my body.”

(Congregation eats of the bread)

Worship Song

Worship Song:  Revelation Song

Testimony

I have been made clean. The blood that Christ shed on the cross for me gave me freedom when I deserved death. Like Barabbas, I was condemned to die. But Christ took my place.

Every painful scourge should have pierced my back.

Every accusation.

Every mocking blow.

Every thorn.

Every nail.

Every drop of blood.

You stood up for me.

I stand in His presence, free and forgiven.

Prayer

Prayer: Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, Redeemer, we remember the torment, the humiliation, the pain that You endured because You loved us. We remember how You loved even when You knew that You would be betrayed and denied. We remember that You, the spotless Lamb, became sin. We remember that even Your Heavenly Father turned away from You that day. Our minds aren’t capable of comprehending a love that pure, that everlasting. Your love has no bounds. We remember, and our hearts are filled with unspeakable thanksgiving.

Reading

Reader #1: He was pierced for our transgressions.

Reader #2: He was crushed for our iniquities.

Reader #3: The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.

Reader #1: And by His wounds we are healed.

Reader #2: We, all like sheep, have gone astray.

Reader #3: Each of us has turned to his own way.

Reader #2: And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Reader #1: He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.

Reader #2: He was led like a lamb to the slaughter

Reader #3: For me.

Reader #1: For me.

Reader #2: For me.

Reader #1 ,2 & 3: For me.

Worship Song

Soloist: (a capella)  Amazing Grace (Congregation invited to join on the last verse)

(Congregation drinks of the cup.)

Prayer

Prayer: Lord, I want to ask for Your forgiveness. Tonight my eyes were opened as we sang the words to those hymns that I’ve sung thousands of times. For the first time in my life I was struck by the vastness of Your grace and love for me, and it pierced my heart. I looked at my hands that have so many times brought You shame as I have clinched them in anger. As I have pointed the finger of blame at the innocent. As I have held forbidden fruit . . . These hands were never pierced. And yet the loving hands that fed and healed and served—those perfect hands of grace were pierced for me. As we prayed, I touched my forehead and I remembered my moments of rage when I accused and fussed and frowned. But my brow was never pierced. And yet Your brow was pierced by thorns. Your wounded head was bleeding. You shed Your blood for me. Lord, I know that I’ve heard the story a thousand times. I believed it. And it was true. But tonight . . . it was as if for the first time I looked You in the eyes and I felt the holiness of worshiping a God who died. A God who gave His own life for me. My feet have never felt the knawing pain that You endured of the cross that day. My shoulders have never carried the burden of the world in the shape of a cross. I have never been stripped of everything to die a sinner’s death. My back never scourged—my face never spit upon—Oh Lord, the agony, the humiliation, the torment—the love. How could it be? How could You love me that much? Tonight, as we took the bread and drank from the cup, I felt the holy presence of Your love. Thank You, Lord. I don’t understand Your love. I probably never will. But I want You to know that tonight I saw You, and I will never be the same again.

Written by Matt Tullos