The Week After Easter

April 3, 2005 by

My fears were confirmed this week when I went to church.

Just seven days ago, I was enthralled in the excitement of a spectacular Easter celebration service. The choir was lively, the music was grand, the message was direct, and the congregation showed up in record numbers (we had to add a fourth service). Smiles were everywhere as I was greeted, visitors were abundant, and from the look of the giant games and activities in the parking lot, the kids’ church appeared to be competing with Disney Land.

Welcome to the week after Easter. Not only was the church empty (more than usual), there was NO choir, NO band (it was a fill-in worship leader with a guitar), and the speaker was not the main pastor (nor will it be for the next five weeks!). The mood was as if Good Friday was supposed to come after Easter! Come on!

I blogged last week about the significance of the big let down from going all out for Easter and then not being able to sustain its impact. In other words, we make a great first impression, but follow it up with not just service as usual, but service as not-so-usual.

While I really do like my church and I believe the intentions and hearts of the leadership are right, I think they’re missing the bigger picture here. Without the sustainable impact of a great service, we can’t expect people will want to keep coming back for something they think will happen again.

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Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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7 Responses to “The Week After Easter”

  • mike atkinson
    April 4, 2005

    Hey Brad: I brought this up at the men’s prayer group I meet with from my church every Monday. It was the same at our church yesterday as well.
    The older guys had a problem with your perspective because it seems to come only from the visitor’s perspective.
    Their view is that the church calendar is rhythmic and Easter is one of our seasonal crescendos. Many churches promote Easter as a “special” service, which seems to calm some expectations. But it’s a climactic celebration after a somber Lenten period.
    Many churches see a dip in attendance on the Sunday after Easter (and not a dip in comparison to Easter attendance, but to pre-Easter attendances, which tend to slowly grow leading up to Easter). Is it like a post-adenaline rush low? Maybe.
    Also, I’ve never liked it when the pastor takes a week or two off after Easter. Many people come (or come back) to our church because of him. But from knowing him as a friend, I know he’s hanging by a thread after Lent and Easter are over. What does it communicate to the Body if we force him to go just a couple extra miles and try to hang on?
    In fact, our church gives him more than the 5 weeks off in the summer, we force him to take Sundays off (either gone from church or attending but not preaching) to help him keep his sanity. So many people have commented on how that models the pace and way of life we preach.
    So, there are many issues. But I see your point on what could be perceived a ‘bait & switch.’

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  • Teevio
    April 5, 2005

    I can’t say better things about my church. We had an extremely powerful Easter service, but what I was amazed with is that the following Sunday, I was blown away even more by the love of God in the service.
    The Sunday after Easter was back to normal, but our normal is powerful every week. The pastor is adament about having the congregation serve and help bear the load of the intricacies of any service. So while Easter was “bigger” than normal, he didn’t have to take on more stress, the congregation stepped up to the plate to fill the gap.
    As to the church being empty the week after Easter, ours was much more empty than normal, at least in the early service. But you have to expect that when daylight savings rolls around. I almost missed the first service because of that.

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  • Mary Frieg
    April 5, 2005

    This is a big issue. In our church we do look at the weeks following Easter and Christmas as important so our senior minister preaches, the band is there, and so is our full choir (110 on Easter, 70-80 on other Sundays. We sing three services every Sunday, 52 weeks a year, plus Christmas eve and other special times).So we look at those weeks following the big ones as being very important because people will often return after Christmas and Easter and we don’t want it to be a “down” week.Our senior minister and our music minister are fully on board so they postpone their time off even tho they are exhausted after Lent and Holy Week. The choir is exhausted too but we are there in force because we don’t want to miss an opportunity to reach people.
    Mary Frieg
    First Prebyterian Church in Colorado Springs.

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  • Anthony D. Coppedge
    April 5, 2005

    I hear the concern for those who are ‘exhausted’ after an Easter weekend. When Mike wrote:

    “I’ve never liked it when the pastor takes a week or two off after Easter. Many people come (or come back) to our church because of him. But from knowing him as a friend, I know he’s hanging by a thread after Lent and Easter are over. What does it communicate to the Body if we force him to go just a couple extra miles and try to hang on?”

    If church leadership would consider changing the paradigm of their role in planning for weekend services, then when a ‘big weekend’ like Easter rolls around, they increase in workload is a small speed bump and not a major mountain.

    What I’m talking about is Creative Planning for Weekend Experiences.

    The concept is simple: the teaching Pastor/Senior Pastor takes a week or two sabbatical and seeks God’s direction for message series topics. I suggest trying for 3 to 6 month’s worth of sermon series/titles and brining this direction back to a Creative Planning Team that helps flesh out the possibilities for each week of a series. The combined creative input comes from a staple of staff and/or volunteers who are involved in the planning every week. The rest of the team is comprised of rotating staff and/or volunteers to keep the ideas fresh and the mix lively.

    This is particularly helpful for the music, staging and technical teams of the church, where more TIME (Today Isn’t More than Enough!{tm}) means more possibilities. Furthermore, the coordination allow for teams of other volunteers, such as parking lot helpers, greeters, ushers and hospitality folks can be plugged into a known schedule that fits the context of the series.

    When Pastors finally learn the value of this model, sustaining “Easter weekend type” services is realistic. They won’t be exhausted unless a bunch of extra services are added to accommodate the crowds. And even then, by delegating and working as a team (as usual with Creative Planning Teams), the sacrifice of time for these extra services is worth it.

    I simply don’t accept that the “C and E” crowd force us to be different on these two weekends from any other weekend – other than perhaps coordinating some extra content and ensuring a new sermon series starts on these days or by adding extra services for the influx of visitors.

    2 more cents on the pile,
    Anthony D. Coppedge
    Church Media Consultant

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  • Zeljko Skorup
    April 11, 2009

    We had a great service here and I understand there is a temptation to holiday but we need to remember why Easter is important above all things and that our time off work was designed for this particular seasonal worship.

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  • Cathie Oggs
    April 27, 2011

    I’m gonna be there…..I promise!

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  • John Lohmann
    May 2, 2011

    There’s a reason the Church has traditionally called the week after Easter and Christmas “low Sunday.” I don’t think it has a great deal to do with the pastor being gone. Many people are “trying a church out” on these two Sundays every year.

    When there are less than a normal amount of people who show up it is actually showing that a number of people normally not involved did work to help, especially during Holy Week in Lent. Many churches have several extra services during the week prior to Easter.

    Being a pastor, I’ve never liked the idea that even my regular crowd doesn’t show up the week after Easter. But, out of love for them, I realize some of these people have gone to all of the extra services, helped in special ways around the church during those events, and still work full time jobs in the world.

    These two Sundays are natural breaks in the church calendar that allow the pastor some down time, since there will not be as many people in church those weeks, no matter what we do to try to recreate the Easter excitement.

    I’d love to think all of the people who come on C & E would come every week. Unfortunately, it is just not reality. However, this all being said, if someone has a way to get all of these people back to church the next Sunday more power to you! Send me an email if it works!

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