Praise God for the faithful who proclaimed the Good News of Jesus for the hearts that were ministered to by the Gospel! Easter is always a special time in the church. It is the biggest Sunday theologically, and also with attendance. This also means it can be the most exhausting time for pastors. I hope and pray you took extra time to rest after Easter and recover emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I encourage you in self-care and to surround yourself with people who can pour into you.
Before we return to “normal,” take time to reflect on Easter worship. Be a curious investigator and ask yourself questions. Most people will say, “It was good,” but what does that mean? I trust everyone shared the Good Word of God that brings new life. So what else was good?
Everyone usually points to attendance. But the attendance number alone doesn’t tell the full story. It is like reading the introduction of a book and saying I have read the book. You need to dig deeper, get more data, to understand the story so you can decide what the next chapter of the story will be. Here are some questions to help.
What was in-person and online attendance? What was the difference between two years ago and previous Sundays? Who came and who didn’t, out of members and regular attenders – and why? How many guests? Were guests locals, out-of-town visitors, friends or family of regulars, new to the area, Lutherans looking for a Lutheran church, or the ones you only see on the holidays?
You want to determine how guests hear of or know about your ministry and why they came. What promotional material was effective for getting the word out about your ministry (i.e. internet, church sign, yard signs, mailer, invite card, etc.). This tells you what people think of your ministry and who your ministry is for. Many will say we are here for the community but the community never comes. Maybe we are sending a different message to the community. What was the percentage of guests? Is this higher or lower than previous years? Why or why not? Did you have any pre-Christians or people wanting to be baptized or seekers of the faith? What are the God wins?
Another area to look into is volunteers. Did we have enough volunteers? Did our volunteers understand and execute their responsibilities correctly? Did the volunteers have the right resources for their responsibility? Were there any balls dropped, and why?
How much is COVID a factor in your culture? How many wore masks or were very strict on keeping distance etc.? What is your church’s risk level? This is important to see what other ministry your church or community is ready for. If your church has a high fear factor, it will be very difficult to invite or have guests or do other ministries. This has implications that need to be factored for your future ministry decisions.
If you do not have a system for reaching out, welcoming and connecting to guests, or helping guests make a next step in their faith walk, then I invite you to contact me about having a consultation, workshop, or joining the Leverage Network. We can help you be more intentional about your ministry so you understand what is effective and not. You are the local expert; we want to help you leverage your gifts and resources for God’s Kingdom.
by: Rev. Jason Scheler, Mission Executive of the LCMS Southern District