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Making The Most of Lent and Spring

Like Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter are an opportunity to connect with people who may come to our churches this time of year. Here is a brief video and outline of opportunities that churches are taking to reach new people during this time of the year. You can see and hear a brief comment about each one at the minute marker next to the item.

  • Springtime sports (11:40 in video) for children and youth are staring up. Many pastors and laity are connecting with parents at home games as a way of reintroducing their church to the community. Rev. Emily Moore of Warsaw UMC offers a blessing of the bats at the start of the little league season. You can click on the video below to hear about her experience.
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    Warsaw UMC "How to reach new people" Workshop
  • Ash Wednesday (2:15 in video): Many churches will take Ash Wednesday out to public places such as train stations, busy streets or highways, or a nearby restaurant.   Offer food, ashes, a small pamphlet about Ash Wednesday and a list of your upcoming church events.
    • Here is another video about offering Ashes at McDonald’s and four other locations:
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      Ashes at McDonalds

      And here a pastor reflecting on the experience of drive through ashes at his church:

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      Drive-through Ashes In Old Metairie
  • Lenten Study (4:20 in video): If your church is offering some sort of Lenten study offer it in a public place like a restaurant or a coffee shop.   Make it a topic that is very “accessible” to the general public.
  • For a Lenten discipline, ask every board, committee and group in the church to meet outside the church building for the six weeks of Lent.
  • Offer a Prayer Labyrinth in a public space (9:50 in video).
  • Elbow activities: This is the time to do smaller, elbow activities, build relationships and then invite, pick up and bring guests to Holy Week events.
  • 6 weeks of “Love” Wednesdays (or any day of the week) (6:10 in video). Pick out a day of the week and for the six weeks of Lent go out and bring a lunch to a different group in the community to thank them for their service (Examples include local businesses, fire department, police department, local school teachers, etc.)  Have members invite friends to help make the meals and deliver them and you now have a member/guest activity as well.
  • One church (7:04 in video), instead of a Maundy Thursday service in their church, hosted a dinner at the community center and thanked all the town workers for their service.
  • Another church had a one-day VBS on Good Friday, as many students were out school but their parents had to work. Here are some Good Friday activities for children (Pinterest Link).
  • Good Friday (9:00 in video): Most church Good Friday services are poorly attended. If that has been your history then invite people to go on a prayer walk with you and pray for the community, or set up a labyrinth in a public place.
  • Easter Egg Hunt (10:23 in video): Relocate your Easter Egg Hunt to a park and see how many more people attend.
  • Easter Sunrise: Again, do this service in a public place and ask your members to invite, pick up and bring guests.  Have refreshments at the service (rather than breakfast back at the church which only members go to) and people will linger and talk.
  • We now have a dozen or more churches that deliver complete Easter dinners to people who have to work on Easter morning (hotel, gas station, police, etc.)
  • Invite guest musicians you know in the community and ask them to play during Holy Week. Friends and family will come to hear them play.
  • For any and all worship and activities, make sure you have outstanding guest hospitality services, as this may be our one opportunity to greet people well.
  • Depending on the time of Easter, don’t forget to see what springtime events are happening in your community and connect with them (Little Baseball season, town spring fairs, school vacation times, etc.)
  • Finally, you can increase your overall average for worship attendance for the year by not surrendering on the Sunday after Easter but instead scheduling a special service that will attract people. Many churches offer a children’s choir performance the Sunday after Easter and have attendance almost twice what they previously experienced on that traditional “down” Sunday.

At Easter we experience the incredible grace of abundant new life.  Help as many people in your community as possible, experience it with you.

Click the image below to download a printable copy of these best practices.

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