Easter Afterglow and Outreach

Suddenly, it’s done. After all the Holy Week planning, preparing, promoting, and presiding. It’s over. Post-Easter Monday began with a round of golf with some fellow pastors. It was good to get away. Now, that we’re on the other side of Easter Sunday:
1. What do I need to be doing now? Prioritize and get busy!
2. What went well from Lent & Easter? Build on it for next year.
3. What could have been done better? Learn from, adapt, or change.

What do I need to be doing now?

I’m going to devote as many hours as necessary this week for follow ups. My schedule is cleared of evening meetings the whole week. The goal is that not a single visitor from the community will slip through the cracks. If they left an address but no phone number, that’s a “drive-by”. If they wrote down only an email address, they will be added to the weekly “Our Savior’s Family & Friends” email with its minute meditation and “taste” of what to expect for upcoming Sunday’s worship. To receive precious prospect contact information and do nothing with it is to dig a hole and bury the friendship registers in the ground similar to the lazy servant of Jesus’ parable.

I also need to intentionally share prospect follow up with my church members. A part of me wants to do all the follow up because I like it and am comfortable it. God’s incredible blessing of a 150+ visitors will make that impossible. I will need my follow up team with me. There is the opportunity for members to make connections with prospects. Some live in the same subdivisions together. Others will relate better by age or the geographical area from where they relocated.

There will be plenty of prospect follow up for the pastor with those who indicated, “Would like pastor to call” or “New to the community” or “Interested in membership”. I’m on them like crazy.

What went well from Lent & Easter?

I believe our sunrise service has undiscovered potential for the future due to its location within the community. Easter sunrise service was held at a gorgeous botanical gardens located in the central part of our community. Dating back to the early 1800s, the original sugar mill plantation ruins still stand. Unlike other years, our sunrise service was held directly in front of those old ruins with the sunrise and a message of new life in Christ in the background. In addition to our usual, professionally-done, Easter mass mailing (5,000), we hand-delivered 1,000 flyers to homes in the immediate vicinity with the invite (the summarized gist), “Easter Sunrise … Bring your coffee.” Seventy-five percent of the attendees were non-members. A full one-third came from the 1,000 home-made flyer campaign that cost a total of $18. It was cheap but not cheesy, home-produced but with a quality message of, “This is especially done for you, neighbor.”

What could have been done better?

I forgot to bring the friendship registers to the off-site sunrise location. I could kick myself. Sure, all our contact information was printed out for them in the service folder. But my memory lapse cost me the valuable driver’s seat of prospect follow up. Now I’m helplessly in the backseat praying some of dozens will somehow follow up on my church. Note to self: DON’T DO THAT AGAIN!

Also, we won’t ask them to bring their coffee to Easter sunrise but have fresh-brewed coffee ready for them upon arrival. It will make for a little more work and planning, but will only add to the early morning appeal. I can see it already: a line of early morning worshippers getting a service folder in one hand and a cup of java in the other to help speed their steps as we race to see the empty tomb!

We need to capitalize on the uniqueness of our sunrise service. Note to self: Next year, call the Daytona Beach News Journal and invite them to report and publish an article with photos on our church-hosted, “Sugar Mill Sunrise Service.” Then, ask if it can be part of the Saturday edition (the day before Easter). It doesn’t matter that the local Baptist churches have a lock on the beach side sunrise services attended by the hundreds. Ours is a closer and more central alternative for the remaining tens of thousands.
The timing of the distribution for the sunrise service flyer affected turn-out. While believers plan to attend Easter, unchurched don’t. Many simply react instantaneously: “Hey, that sunrise thing sounds neat. Let’s do it tomorrow morning.” As weird as it may sound, another note to self: plan on 2,500 door-to-door sunrise service flyers to be hand-delivered Thursday through Saturday of Holy Week next year. It can be done: 3 days, 2 hours a day, and 10 volunteers each day. It can be done.

Suddenly, Easter is not done. It’s just beginning. Happy prospecting in the Easter afterglow!

Note to self for next blog entry: How different will a repeat visitor’s worship experience be the Sundays after Easter? As if to say to the visitor, “Sorry, we had you in mind last Sunday, but now we need to get back to our ‘normal’ worship?” Without changing worship, what features can be carried over from high festivals that will benefit the repeat worship visitor?
How can we promote the upcoming Good Shepherd, Ascension, and Pentecost experiences?

Rev. Donn Dobberstein

Donn Dobberstein serves as pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Port Orange, FL. He also serves as the chairman of the WELS Commission on Evangelism, and as a presenter with the WELS School of Outreach.

Full biography »