It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I just finished some sermon preparation for this coming weekend. We’re starting a new series, Field of Dreams, and it’s going to be awesome. However, if I’m completely honest, I’ve been a little distracted. I’m still buzzing from what happened at Vertical Church on Easter Sunday. It was our biggest Easter EVER! Not only in attendance, but we also saw a record number of salvations, and let’s face it, that’s far and away the most important number for the day.
I’ve been trying to figure out what was different, and I think I’ve discovered it. Want to know?
We did nothing for Easter Sunday that we couldn’t repeat each and every week. Now that doesn’t mean we did nothing. I actually think we could look back and see four things we did intentionally that really positioned us for an awesome Easter. Obviously, all credit goes to God for everything that happened. We simply operated in His power… but we still operated. As I’ve heard Perry Noble ask before, if God’s will is for every church to grow, why aren’t all churches growing? That’s why I want to share these 4 decisions we made that made all the difference.
- We sought God. Starting back in March, we began a 21-day period of focused prayer and scripture reading. I’ve rarely been as encouraged as a pastor as I was when I saw people sharing photos of our prayer card as they took the step to own our Easter through prayer. Just like all of life begins and ends with God, so our Easter experience began and ended with God. I just think it began way before Easter.
- We showed up. As a pastor, I’ve come to the realization that on any given Sunday only about 60% – 75% of the people who consider our church home actually attend. I’m not trying to be overly negative or fuss… there are a variety of reasons for this. Many people work on Sundays. That’s just a fact of life. Living close to the beach and a pretty good amusement park doesn’t help either, especially when the weather warms up. But on those days when attendance climbs to something more 90% – 95%, it really makes a difference.
- We stepped out. So many people sacrificed their time to serve and make the day happen. We had people in rolls that we’d been dreaming and talking about for a while, and they shined. It made a difference too. Guests weren’t just greeted at the door, but they were greeted in the hallways, in the auditorium, walking their kids to different theaters. They were smiled at, welcomed, shown a seat. From our production team to kids, we had people stepping up all over the place.
- We shared a lot. Did you know that nearly every first-time guest (not all, but a whole lot) was personally invited? It makes a huge difference when each of us takes ownership of the growth of the church. Sure we did a little bit of advertising online, but far and away the number one reason people gave for attending was personal invitation. And I know we did the fun “Egg Your Neighbor” boxes, but that was just to encourage more personal invitations.
That’s it, really. Even when it came to the adult and kids’ worship experiences, we didn’t really do anything out-of-the-box. We didn’t fly in helicopters, sky dive from airplanes, or fill the Regal parking lot with exotic animals (no criticism if you or your church did any or all of those things). In fact, we opened the adult experience with the Gaither song, “Because He Lives.” How’s that for innovative? We did what we do every Sunday. We sang worship songs, preached the gospel, and gave people an opportunity to respond. And they did!
So here’s what I’m thinking, especially if you’re reading this and you call Vertical Church home.
Let’s do it again!
Let’s not stop seeking God, showing up, stepping out, and sharing a lot. We don’t need it to be Easter to do those. They don’t cost a dime. Let’s build on the miracles God performed this past Sunday, and let’s step fully into the purpose He has for our church. I’m not trying to compare or compete with any other church, but you need to know – what happened Sunday IS NOT NORMAL! I know of plenty of churches that had 2 or 3 times as many people attend, but didn’t see a tenth of the number of salvations or recommitments we saw. That’s not to say anything negative about them but to simply underscore the unique opportunity God is presenting to us.
If God is pouring out His Spirit…
If revival is rising…
If salvation is springing forth…
Then let’s take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us. For we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Let’s do it again!