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Easter is one of the most exciting holidays, bringing together friends, families, and church communities to celebrate Jesus’ triumph over death and the hope of new life. In fact, more people attend Easter services than any other time of the year, making Easter an exciting opportunity to share the gospel message with a wider audience!
Pastors know that in order to reach the most people possible, they need to connect both in person and online. According to the Pew Research Center, 27% of churchgoers regularly attend church online. This means that over a quarter of your Easter attendees may be people attending online this year.
This raises an important question for pastors: Should you invest your time and energy in holding Easter services in person, online, or both?
Easter hybrid services—what are they & how do they work?
The truth is that churches that meet exclusively in person or only online are at risk of alienating people who want to attend their Easter service. Fortunately, churches don’t have to choose between one or the other!
Hybrid Easter services help you create a unified experience for your church community, both online and in person. This allows your church to reach the most people possible with the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, engage them, and stay connected with them all year long.
Running a successful hybrid Easter service relies on having the right tools in place and making the right preparations. Let’s take a look at planning your hybrid Easter services and the online tools needed for success.
1. Select your Easter theme
Your Easter theme will set the tone for your celebration. Before selecting a theme, consider what season your church is going through. For example, are they going through a period of hope, disappointment, peace, or anxiety? Select a theme that will resonate with your church community, such as:
The hope of Easter
The empty tomb
From death to life
Victory over the grave
All things new
Choosing the right theme builds excitement, creates expectations, and ultimately attracts more people to join your worship services on Easter!
2. Design your graphics & media
Now that you’ve selected this year’s Easter theme, you can begin to prepare your design. Seasonal media is meant to capture people’s attention and visually represent your church, so be sure that any images, graphics, and messaging are consistent with your church’s brand.
Before your big celebration starts, here are some ideas you can use for creating content that will build anticipation and prepare your community for your Easter celebration.
Daily prayer prompts offer your community specific and actionable ways to engage every day throughout Holy Week. Consider offering daily prayer prompts in a variety of places in order to reach your community wherever they’re at—your church website and custom mobile app, through push notifications, and on social media.
The Chosen video series is available at no cost to add to your Subsplash mobile and tablet apps. Your church will love watching the gospel story unfold through the vivid storytelling of Jesus’ life and ministry. You also get custom small group discussion guides to help people go even deeper.
Bible reading plans are an effective way to invite your community to focus during this season of Lent. Taking time to meditate and reflect on scripture is an important practice of the discipleship journey. A.W. Tozer’s “From the Grave” devotional and The Village Church’s "Lent Guide" are good resources to suggest to your community this season, and they can serve as inspiration for developing your own Bible reading plans.
Update your website & mobile app. Start by creating a special Easter section on your website and mobile app containing all the important information about your Easter services: service times, event calendars, contact information, prayer request forms, and so on.
Test your live stream. Before you start streaming Easter morning, be sure that your live streaming service is ready and your equipment (e.g., mics, cameras, lighting, etc.) is properly functioning.
Prepare your online connection cards. Get ready to help visitors get connected with digital welcome forms. It’s also a good idea to offer other forms for prayer requests, membership classes, and volunteer opportunities.
Assign a person or team to monitor live chats. The best church messaging tools, like Subsplash Messaging, make it easy for your volunteers to welcome online visitors in your live chat. You’ll want to provide your team with questions to start conversations with your online visitors, as well as instructions for handling any distracting comments.
5. Strategize your in-person Easter service
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s visiting your church for the first time. How comfortable would you feel? Would you see closed doors or friendly smiles waiting to welcome you? Could you find your way around the building without asking a stranger for help?
The experience you provide for your Easter guests will have a major impact on their decision to return again to your church. Here are some practical steps you can take to help your visitors feel at home and want to return again:
Make sure your volunteers are ready. Door greeters, ushers, nursery workers, and the people refilling the coffee pots—each and every one of your volunteers represents your church. Be sure they’re trained on how to welcome guests, direct people to the right places, and answer basic questions about your church. If possible, give your volunteers name badges or matching shirts that identify them as someone who is there to help.
Create a welcome booth. Most visitors will naturally look for a welcome booth or visitors station to learn more information about your church. Set up a booth, stand, or a table that’s fully staffed and ready to welcome your guests and provide them with helpful information.
Set up clear signage. Nobody likes to feel lost. Be sure that your church has prominent and clear signage that directs attendees to important areas like restrooms, classrooms, the lobby, and the main sanctuary.
Print welcome cards. Similar to your online connection cards, provide your visitors with welcome cards that can be filled out during their visit. Don’t forget to include instructions about where they should be submitted!
Prepare your welcoming remarks. To make a good first impression—and avoid a poorly planned or awkward greeting from the pulpit—be sure to recognize first-time and returning visitors, and welcome those who are attending online. Keep it simple by briefly introducing yourself and your church’s mission, vision, and values. You can also explain what to expect during the service, how people can get to know more about your church, and invite them to fill out their welcome cards.
Plan something fun! Create some excitement with a fun event or activity. For example, you might create a photo backdrop where people can take pictures on Easter or arrange an egg hunt for the kids after the service. If you have a play or drama during your service, have the actors stay in their costumes and greet people after the service. Remember, it doesn’t have to be something big to be something special.
Having an amazing Easter theme, beautiful graphics, engaging content, the right digital tools, and a well planned in-person experience will make your Easter hybrid service a success.
The above playbook is one section taken from the ebook, How to Successfully Run a Hybrid Easter Service. To get even more useful insights about running a hybrid church service, pro tips, and practical checklists, download your free copy of the ebook today!
To speak with a ministry consultant and learn more about using Subsplash One to better engage your community in-person and online, [.blog-contact-cta]let’s chat![.blog-contact-cta]
Jeff lives in Austin, TX and is a husband, father, and bonsai enthusiast. He’s served churches for over 20 years as a pastor, teacher, and missionary. He also holds a MBA from George Fox University and is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.
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