Every church hits a wall in growth, that attendance barrier your church can’t seem to get past. Maybe it’s 50, 100, 1,000, or 10,000. It doesn’t matter. One of the best chances you’ll have all year to pass that barrier is at Easter.
Special days-like Easter, Christmas, anniversaries, and other celebrations- have been crucial to Saddleback’s growth over the past 30 years. The only way to break through barriers is to do so quickly. You don’t gradually make it over an attendance barrier. You do it all at once.
When I started Saddleback, I thought the opposite was true. I actually worked out a chart and figured out that we’d make it to 20,000 in attendance in 40 years if we just added two people a week, starting with Kay and me. I can still show you the paper with that chart on it!
But the premise is totally false. The history of Saddleback has demonstrated just the opposite. We grew to about 15 people in a Bible study in the first 12 weeks. Then on Easter Sunday, we prayed, planned, advertised, and worked our hearts out. We managed to get 205 people to show up for a service. Over the next month we averaged a little more than a hundred in attendance. It sounds like we lost a bunch. I don’t see it like that. I’d say I gained 100 - from 15 to about 115. Six months later we invented a special day -Saddleback Valley Day- and we crossed the 300 barrier. By the end of the year we were averaging around 165. Again, that was still up from where we were before the special day.
Usually church growth looks more like stair steps than a straight line. You have a big day and afterwards you go down -but not as far down as you were before. Then you grow again all at once … then drop a bit afterwards.
So what does this mean for you this Easter?
Leverage the day. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward that weekend. Promote Easter as much as possible and then make sure you’re ready for the people when they come.
Also, give people something for their heart, for their head, and for their hand. Give them inspiring music for their heart. Give them a practical message for their head. And you put something in their hand they can take home.
Finally, start a series at Easter. This will encourage your Easter guests to come back the next week because they want to hear what’s next in the series. Pick something that connects with your community. You know what they’re dealing with. Tell them what the Bible says about it and provide practical help.
This Easter can be huge for your church. It can be just what you need to take your church to the next level.
Are you ready?