Easter Worship Service: Different, Yet The Same


easter_crossA Great Opportunity

Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas tend to be days when attendance at our worship gatherings increases. Generally, these are the times when we roll out our red carpets and bring out the fanfare and “productions” to attract attenders. Many churches put on cantatas, plays and musicals. Other churches dust off the seasonal songs for the worship set list.

While, there is a time and a place for special elements of celebration and elaborate production in our worship, I believe that these seasonal gatherings are the most under utilized days on our church calendars. Why? Because we put a lot of focus on creating these extravagant specials and really don’t take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself in a very simple and dynamic way right in front of our eyes each year.

There is something to be said for familiarity. Oh, I’m not talking about getting into a rut and not budging. I’m not even talking about routine, as much as I am talking about creating rhythm. A rhythm that people who are far from God can approach, observe, and eventually participate in.

Come Back Next Week For Something Totally…Different?

You see, we tend to pull out the best worship “china” and put on our seasonal “Sunday best” during these times of the year instead of just being who we are. Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to musicals, plays, cantatas, or flaming sword juggling if it’s done well and for the glory of God, but I see such an opportunity to include all of these new faces, all of these unchurched, all of these “far from God” people in a way that runs counter to what we’ve done for so long.

We tend to bring out the fireworks on the big day and then the next week, if any of the new guests decided to come back, it’s a total let down. Where are the flying angels, the guys in fake beards and dresses, or the soldiers from Gladiator?

Come Back Next Week For More of The Same Goodness

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could honestly tell guests on Easter that when they come back next week, the experience they had that day would be the same next week? Wouldn’t it be something if they actually wanted to come back? Wouldn’t it be nice if they felt that they could come “just as they were” without the hoopla of the seasonal celebration?

Hear me when I say (again) that we SHOULD incorporate the arts into our celebration. I think God delights in our efforts to reflect His glory in spectacular ways. I just think that for years we’ve been putting on these circus type events during the holidays and experiencing great attendance…

…until the next week.

Consider This

In my experience, people are comfortable coming back and plugging in when they know what they are getting in to. When we reserve those big days for our special shindigs people come for the first time and really have no clue who we really are as a faith family. We’ve done a pretty good job at the church I’m working with to create an Resurrection oriented service that fits within the parameters of our “normal” Sunday gathering. Sure, we go all out, sure we add elements that we wouldn’t normally do (we’re using a hydraulic lift to illustrate a point), but ultimately it’s not a different element from what we would normally do because we use illustrative props all the time.

When people join us for our Easter celebration, we can confidently say, “When you come back next week, everything will look the same, the energy and music will be the same, the service will be the same length, and you’ll enjoy it just as much next week as today.”

Something to consider.

  • Great minds…?

    Right on target, in my opinion. The only thing we do differently on Easter is possibly to color-coordinate the choir’s clothing color.

    I think this is like a beautiful lady dressing up for a wedding with an elaborate hairstyle that looks absolutely nothing like her hair has looked at any point in her life; definitely not the hairstyle that she had when she and the groom first met.

    Most of the time, I believe people “outside” would be more touched by authenticity than pageantry.

    I’m not pointing fingers at anyone who might be doing something big for Easter! Just noting where I personally stand on it all. Our staff and my team is on the same page with me (which is, of course, huge).

  • I couldn’t agree more. What we do on Easter Sunday is very similar to what we do every Sunday. We usually continue on right through the series we are in, with some ties to the meaning of the day in the sermon, and of course song selection that is geared towards resurrection and such. But even these are songs that we usually sing together. Songs our congregation knows. Nothing new, no special performances. We want visitors to know that when they walk through the door, they are seeing and experiencing who we are and what we are about just like they would on any other Sunday.
    Of course we will make certain accommodations to handle a higher volume of people, but why do something different than what you normally do? Who are you trying to impress?

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  • We fell into the trap in our early days of putting on this huge event that required extra services, longer services and weeks of preparation. Oh how I love the simplicity of excellence! We do it well (to the best of our abilities), we focus on the message and we plan a series after Easter that we tie into that day.

    I agree with you Russ!

  • Right on Russ. Love your spirit here.

    We used to do a very large outreach on Easter Sunday. Pleas hear me…I am not opposed to anything like that, but what we found was we put a lot of effort, time and money into a one time event and then the following weekend or weekends was watered down.

    For the last 3 years, we have stayed on campus and intentionally held a service that was not “extra” or “more than”. It’s what it always is, a heart felt, love poured into excellent service. But whether you come Easter, christmas or June 23rd, you get the same energy, passion and excellence.

    We found that people love that when they come to a “special” event, they get us, pure and simple. then the following week when they come bck and bring their friends…it’s still us.

  • Russ,
    As good an article as I’ve read – I totally relate to it – thanks so much for sharing this, man … I hope more people will read this – I’ve scheduled it to “tweet” every few hours the next few days.

  • Thanks for the article. We have always done exactly what you said in your article… But this year I was trying to push myself for something bigger because there seemed to be pressure to do so. Your article reminded me and brought me back to the simple message we speak out every week…that Jesus loves us and died for us! What better excitement could we bring to Easter Sunday Morning? A church full of people with a passion and love for our God who is alive will speak volumes to anyone attending! Thank You for writing this.

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