It’s the signs ‘n’ invitations time of year.
Our church has given each member a minimum of five invitations so that we can invite visitors to the Easter church services; some other churches have given their members yard signs announcing Easter service times and dates. They’re popping up all over my town, and I’m glad. If someone feels compelled to seek out an Easter Sunday service that they wouldn’t normally attend, I want them to have the information they need as conveniently as they can get it.
But we’re making a mistake if we think passing out some glossy cards or pushing a sign into our yard is the height of ministry, outreach, or even Christian service at this time of year. Here are some Easter suggestions to add some depth to the season. They require more effort, but they’re more satisfying, too:
1. Consider Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. It’s de rigeur to invite people to Easter Sunday service, which makes sense: it’s one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar and the message of salvation is central. With all that being said, my (Methodist) church holds Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, and I find them more reflective, moving, and intimate than the Easter Sunday service by far. If you want to invite someone to these, it might not be a bad idea, especially if you think they might be intimidated by the Easter hoopla and crowds.
2. Invite someone to dinner, or take them to brunch. Yes, certainly the unchurched – but also others who might be lonely or needing connection this time of year. Adopt an isolated member of your congregation: a single mother, an elderly person, a college student. Invite them to be a part of your family on a celebratory day, and make them feel at home.
3. Help someone with spring cleaning/spring projects. This is the time of year that many folks are starting to clean and also doing the regular outside-the-house chores that come with warmer weather. Offer to lend a hand! This is especially great if you have very busy or much older neighbors who might need the help. You can even offer to walk a dog or watch the kids so they can get everything done that they need to do.
4. Start a new Christian habit. Maybe you’ve been meaning to refrain from criticizing people so much for a while. Maybe you want to start a new Bible study. Maybe you want to be more of an encourager. Maybe you’ve been meaning to build a relationship with that new family you just met. Whatever it is, make Easter your starting point and use it to define a new beginning. Celebrate the resurrection with meaningful, motivated action.
5. Take Easter service elsewhere. Is there a place that needs Easter? Sometimes, instead of inviting people in, we need to go out. Maybe that means buying breakfast biscuits for some homeless people in your area, talking with them, and sharing some celebratory prayer on Easter Sunday. Maybe it means going to a local assisted living facility or nursing home or hosting an event for a local college group. You don’t have to come up with an elaborate message or a set message. Warmth, a willing spirit, and the realization that “He is risen!” is more than enough.
I hope, as Easter approaches, you’re coming to new revelations about your Christian walk and how you live it and grow closer to God daily. This is one of my favorite times of years; it’s worthwhile to celebrate it in as many different ways as we possibly can.