Easter Service Soon To Grace Your Campus
Easter is one of the two-biggest attended services of the year. So it’s an incredibly important day for churches to put their best foot forward and deliver a powerful message that can possibly bring people back on a more consistent basis.
For campus pastors working with multisites, this means thinking about all aspects of the service early—with everything from the look, sound and message being planned in advance, so that all team members are on the same page, and each site has a cohesive appearance and worship experience ahead.
Shane Duffey, lead pastor of campuses for NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, with 15 church sites throughout the area, has planned Easter services for approximately 20 years.
“The key is to have things prepared with all your staff and volunteer teams ready for more cars in the parking lot, more kids, and more people in general,” he says. “We need to have volunteers ready to watch the kids, more ushers and enough people prepared for a response time at the end of the service.”
Duffey understands that this one day will bring more visitors to the sites than normal, so it’s vital to make the experience as easy and accessible as possible, which starts in the parking lot and ends when they leave.
“If you’re not ready for a larger-than-normal crowd, the experience is probably not going to be what you want it to be,” he cautions. “On days like that, the easiest thing to do is to service content, the harder thing to do is care for people well and give them a good experience because it’s a high-attendance day.”
Trey Brunson, campus pastor and multisite director at the Church of Eleven22, based in Green Coves Spring, Florida, runs 10 sites under the guidance of lead pastor Joby Martin. And Brunson says Eastertime is an opportunity to help others who may not be aware of how the church works, and then get them on board for the future.
“The thing that has stood out to me the last two years is how aware Pastor Joby is in his sermon, specifically at Easter, with the non-believers and seekers. So I’ve been trying to coach our guys [on] how important it is to be aware,” he notes. “These are the high-attended weekends—they might not know where the bathroom is, they might not understand some of our language, I need you to be uber-aware of what they are doing and help be there and answer questions.”
When handling different sites, Duffey notes it’s most important to be consistent so that everyone has the same level of Easter service, be it the kids’ ministry, the gathering itself, the hospitality level or other areas.
“The one thing that may make Easter a little more complicated for multisites is [that] you have a larger-than-expected crowd, sometimes the turnover in the parking lot can take longer, and that makes it harder for people to get in and out if you have more than one service,” he finds. “That means you may have to delay one service, and if you do a multisite where you are delaying the broadcast campus, you may throw off every other campus.”
Something like that isn’t very common, but when running a same-live broadcast message, you need to have a plan in place for what to do if something like that happens.
Brunson notes that campus pastors also need to ask themselves whether things have to be 100% the same at all sites for Easter.
“We would say that we are a nine out of 10 with each campus being the same, and you would experience the same thing, but that one out of 10, it has some uniqueness,” he says. “Two of our sites are in schools, so those are going to be a little different because of the environment of what we can and can’t do.”
Still, Brunson pulls everyone together to be ready for what comes after Easter, forming groups for anyone who wants to take part, and that involves having the tables ready, videos planned and getting ready for the questions that are to come.
“If you’re headed into Easter and you are a campus staff member, you should be asking a lot of questions,” he suggests. “Questions like, ‘What does this look like in your mind?’ or ‘What resources do I have to make this happen?’ or ‘What obstacles do you see on Easter—parking, child care space and seats for what we are projecting.’”
Thinking of all these vital elements ahead of time, and coming up with solutions surrounding each of them, are key in giving the impression that you care. And this, to a guest, speaks volumes.
While an Easter service is always something special, a church doesn’t necessarily need to make things bigger and better every year—but simply a day that people will enjoy, remember and look back on fondly.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say we didn’t want to put our best foot forward, because we want to make sure that on a day when a lot of people bring family and friends, some who aren’t regular attendees, that we make sure the gospel is super clear, that we make the service as God-focused as we can, and at the same time, make sure there are handles for everyone no matter what their previous church experience has been,” Duffey says. “We always make sure to invite everyone back—not just to church, but how we could potentially be a service to their family, whether it be their kids or Bible study or events.”
One lesson Duffey has learned in his long history of planning Easter services for multisite campuses is not to overload a new campus and try to pull off a higher level of production or creative elements than are possible. But instead, he focuses on creating an experience that is proportional for the size and age of the site.
“If this is the first time someone is doing Easter in multiple locations, you need to take a little extra time and preparation,” Duffey says. “The other thing that might be a challenge is depending on the size and scope and access to resources that each campus has, you need to embrace the fact that what you do at one campus, you may not be able to do at another, and that’s ok. You don’t want to overload a campus by stretching them too far, too fast.”
Brunson has seen churches roll out the red carpet on Easter and make it a show, thinking through both the day and season leading up to it.
“This year, for us, we will start a new series that is [on] the next book Pastor Joby is releasing soon, Anything Is Possible, that walks in the miracles and the Gospel of John,” he notes. “He will start with the miracle of the resurrection and go back and work through the miracles Jesus performed.”