Easter: It’s only the beginning

Meredith Flynn —  April 9, 2014

Nate_Adams_blog_callout_AprilCOMMENTARY | Nate Adams

In churches both here and around the world, so much preparation goes into getting ready for Easter. Of course, that’s as it should be. Easter is arguably the church’s greatest single day of celebration. Though surrounded by distractions like bunnies, egg hunts and new spring fashions, it suffers far less
secularization than Christmas. And because Easter is always Sunday, it gives every local church a special opportunity to shine in its own community. Yet, in an effective, evangelistic church, Easter is only the beginning.

Several years ago, I was part of a group that helped start a new church in the suburbs of Chicago. We decided to hold our first public worship service on Easter Sunday. We called it our church’s birthday.

Prior to that “launch Sunday,” we had prepared for a full year. For weeks, four families prayed and studied and planned. Then three neighborhood Bible studies grew into a core group of about 40. Then we met for weeks in teams to plan ministries and outreach strategies and worship services that would be relevant and inviting to our community.

In the days leading up to Easter, we stuffed envelopes, hung door hangers, and placed ads in the local papers. And on Easter Sunday, 182 people came to the grade school gym where we held our first Easter celebration.

But Easter was only the beginning. Because that first Sunday was our new church’s “birth,” we decided that birthday cakes would be great welcome gifts for all our first time guests. So we baked birthday cakes – dozens of them. And for hours after we packed up our portable church that afternoon, our core group delivered both a welcome and a friendly witness to those who lived in our Jerusalem.

Across North America, including right here in Illinois, new churches often still choose Easter to begin a new witness in a new Jerusalem. But even in churches like yours and mine that have been around a while, Easter can be preceded by special preparations that invite new people to come and meet Christ, and followed by tireless effort to make them feel welcome, both at church and in the family of God.

Do you feel comfortable, even enthusiastic, inviting your friends and neighbors to come to your church? Are you confident in what they will experience there? Is your church ready, not only to welcome and accept first time guests, but also to go the extra mile to understand their needs and questions, and respond with compassion to their imperfect lives?

It takes love and great intentionality to continually invite new people to church, and even more to be truly ready for them when they find the courage to come. The great thing is that Easter Sunday gives a church one of its best opportunities all year to welcome new people, and even churches that do little
inviting are often blessed with first-time guests on that special Sunday.

Let’s be ready this Easter. In fact, let’s be ready each and every Lord’s Day. Let’s be winsome and sensitive and compassionate and good listeners. Let’s
make sure we prepare and invite, and that the Gospel message is clear, and lovingly delivered in multiple ways. And let’s not let Sunday lunch be the end of it.

For the early church, Easter was not the grand finale; it was the start of something big. The risen, ascended, and returning Lord sent His Spirit to fill His
disciples with power, and with boldness. And He said they would be His witnesses, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

It’s the same for us today. The ends of the earth still really need the Gospel, and so do the people who live in our Jerusalems. Again this year, Easter is only the beginning.

Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.