In a 1983 study on the religious beliefs of Americans (published as Absolute Confusion), the Barna Research Group asked self-identifying non-Christians throughout the United States if they knew why Christians celebrate Easter. An astonishing forty-six percent could not give an accurate answer! If that were true in 1983, the results seemingly would be exponentially worse today!

Despite this confusion, if an unbeliever were to attend a church service, it would most likely be at Christmas or Easter. How can we prepare our churches for an evangelistic harvest this Easter? Let me suggest five ways.

First, rally your church members for prayer. My church will distribute a Seven Day Prayer Guide to our members in the days leading up to Easter Sunday.

PRAYER GUIDE: Pray that . . .

Day One:  Church members would invite unbelieving friends to the services.

Day Two:  Unbelievers throughout Louisville would be burdened with their need for God.

Day Three:  The Facebook ad would impact people considering attending a church on Easter.

Day Four:  People would sense the love of Christ among our members when they attend.

Day Five:  The Lord would use the gospel message shared to open spiritually blind eyes.

Day Six:  Prodigals would commit to return to the Lord and to His church.

Day Seven:  Attendees would leave the Easter service overflowing with resurrection hope.

Second, prepare “invite” cards to make it easy for your church members to invite their unbelieving family members, friends, neighbors, work associates, classmates, and acquaintances. Include the relevant information about the church’s Easter Sunday activities, but also include basic church information (physical address; phone number; service times; and website information). The easier we make it for our church members to invite others, the more likely they are to invite others!

Thom Rainer’s research project on “The Unchurched Next Door” (published in 2008), surveyed unchurched individuals throughout the United States and Canada. Two of this research study’s remarkable findings included: 1) Less than twenty percent of the unchurched have ever been invited to church; and 2) Eighty-two percent of the unchurched said would likely attend church if they were invited. Rainer’s research reminds us that people are looking for hope in this seemingly hopeless world.

Third, leverage social media to connect with unchurched people. Our church will sponsor a Facebook advertisement with information about our church’s Easter activities to connect with those in our geographical area. That prompt may nudge someone considering attending a church on Easter Sunday to show up at our worship service. The internet and social media increasingly are proving to be the “front door” for people attending church.

Fourth, remind current church members to be “extra welcoming” to guests on Easter Sunday. Our church members do this very well week after week, but a loving reminder to “excel still more” on Easter Sunday never hurts. For some attendees, that may be their first time ever to set foot in a church building. Make sure they feel welcomed and sense the love of Christ in your midst.

Fifth, clearly share the gospel message of the incarnate, crucified, risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. As Paul requested prayer in Colossians 4:2-4 (NASB):

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way that I ought to proclaim it. May each of us who have the privilege of preaching on Easter Sunday make the gospel message (including the necessary response of repentance and faith) crystal clear.

At some point, invite people who have spiritual questions to reach out to the church (I ask persons to email me directly or to check the appropriate box on our Guest Information Card). Have a box of free Bibles available and announce that the church would love to gift a free Bible to anyone who does not have one.

Why do Christians celebrate Easter? Because Jesus Christ rose from the grave! His resurrection confirms that He is the Son of God (Acts 17:31; Romans 1:1-4), and that His offer of forgiveness to all who believe in Him (John 3:16) is still valid today. If any of Barna’s “46%” show up at your church on Easter Sunday, let there be no confusion about why your church is celebrating Easter. “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”