I have never forgotten a statistic I read years ago by the Barna organization that of the non-Christians who were asked why Christians celebrate Easter, 46% could not give a correct answer. This statistic has huge implications for us as we plan our church communications for the Easter season and in the following article, I’ll talk about why this is and how to use the tools we have today to help people understand the true meaning of Easter.
Why we have this challenge
To begin, the term “Easter” itself to most non-churchgoer’s today means chocolate bunnies, sugar eggs, and the Easter bunny. Look around stores filled with Easter goodies. You seldom see the chocolate crosses that were sold in the past—today, it’s all bunnies and chickies and happy little candy eggs. Even more than at Christmas time, we need to remind our communities that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Easter is the pivotal point of our faith. It is the turning point of all history when the God who became man in Jesus died on the cross and ROSE from the grave. That is what we celebrate, not a bunny dispensing chocolate eggs.
Clarify the meaning of Easter
When you use the term “Easter” as in “Easter Concert” it means nothing to unchurched people this time of year. Just because the term “Easter” is a big deal to you, doesn’t mean it is a big deal to any of the folks in your community. Instead of using the term “Easter” lots of churches refer to it as Resurrection Sunday. That at least gives people a hint of what we are celebrating.
In anything that you use to advertise events, or at the event itself, take the time and space to clearly let people know what you are celebrating. For example, instead of just an ad on your “Easter Concert” and in the program at the event, take the time and space for perhaps the pastor to do a brief article that starts out something like this: “For many of us, we have come to assume Easter is all about chocolate and Easter bunnies, but originally it was the celebration of the Christian church to commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He did that on his own power as the God who had come into human history in human form and died on the cross to redeem people from their sins. In all of history, no one had ever made that claim before. Because of this fact, history was split in two; the Christian church was started, and the disciples who ran away in fear after the cross became the fearless messengers of this message.” The pastor could continue by saying something like:
“Many people today believe that life goes on after death and we would agree with that, but we also think it is important to share that though we believe that God created everyone to live eternally, we won’t all live in the same neighborhood. Not only do we believe that because of Jesus we can spend eternity in heaven, but we also believe that those who do not trust Jesus will spend eternity separated from God in conscious torment forever. Join us for our Easter service and learn how you can choose to live in the neighborhood of joy forever.”
A message like this clarifies that Easter is about personal salvation and we never know how God can use it to touch someone to explore the message more deeply. We do know that if we don’t clearly get our message out there, people will not be able to respond to it.
Use all the tools of social media and technology to implement these suggestions
Website: think of your website as a place to say all the things you could say to people if you had time to explain the Christian faith and what Easter is all about, such as:
- Articles about the meaning of Easter, the history of Easter written from the viewpoint of someone new to the church.
- Ideas on how to celebrate Easter with kids like the Jelly Bean Prayer and Resurrection Cookies.
- Questions about the Resurrection of Jesus, why you believe it’s true and links to apologetic websites
- Complete and clear schedules and directions to all Easter events—this is so basic and important and so often forgotten. Being sure all the details are easily available on your website is one of the greatest ways to show you love your church family and community.
YouTube: You don’t have to have perfect production values to get some church videos up on YouTube—you just have to have something significant to say. There are few messages more important than the message of Easter—that we are forgiven and will live forever because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Shoot short videos of people in your church sharing what this means to them, how Easter changed their life; what they wish their friends knew about Easter.
Instagram and Pinterest: Because these are so highly visual you should post your Easter outreach materials or great Easter graphics with clear captions and links back to your church website.
Facebook and Twitter: Make the obvious announcements and encourage people to come to Easter events—but always remember that these two forms of media are like rivers that flow past your house—and you can’t always remember something that quickly streams by. The application here is that be sure anything you post on Facebook and Twitter, you also have detailed information about it on your website so that when people forget the time of the kids Easter Egg event or the Maundy Thursday service they can look it up.
Media is wonderful but some of the best things you can do to communicate the meaning of Easter is to provide in all your technical communications, ways to interact with humans. Have email addresses of your pastor and others who are willing to interact via email about the messages of salvation. Consider an invitation to “latte with the pastor” at a local coffee shop, a dessert time at someone’s home, or other setting where people are invited to come and ask any question they might have about the Christian faith. Provide a phone number where people can call if they have questions about the meaning of Easter or if they would simply like someone to pray for them.
The Apostle Paul talked about how he “became all things to all people that he might win some” Let his words challenge you this Easter season to use every technological and human tool you have to share Jesus and the joy of His resurrection.