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  • Jordan Stowe

A Pastor's Life Leading to Easter

Easter is truly the greatest day in the year for a believer and a church. It represents the very heart of the Gospel message that saves us all and brings us together. Not surprisingly, it is most often the largest attended church service for the year. You have a good percentage of your members that show up on the same week (seemingly a rare occurrence), and many of those members will have family members come with them that may or may not be believers or members of another church. You will have people that are believers that haven’t really been connected to a church regularly but come on Easter. And you have lost people that are visiting on this seemingly important Sunday.

All that means that as pastors there are decisions to be made and work to be done.

Do you do something special and different on Easter to better draw the potential new people?

Or does that create a problem because it does not represent what your service is normally like?

Do you do things as normal but concentrate on the Easter story?

Do you lead the service with a focus on discipling the believers or more on evangelizing to the lost?

How do you get people to show up?

How do you get them to come back?

How do you let them know what type of church you are in this potential once a year opportunity to see them?

Lots of questions that need answered. I have done things differently in different years but have a few common beliefs that weave through each Easter. First, like most every pastor, I want to concentrate on the message of the Gospel and our risen Savior. This is both valuable in discipleship of the believer and evangelizing to the unbeliever. I also believe that the worship service is intended for believers, but being aware of the potential for increased lost souls in the service will be even more cognizant of sharing the Gospel and giving opportunity for response.

I also want to make sure that enough of what we do is our normal way of doing things so that when those people come back, they do not feel like they are walking into a completely different church than the week before.

And so came this year's plans. One thing that was on my mind, and that of our other pastors, was the power of the Good Friday service. We had done one each year and it was very impactful in reminding us of the weight of our sin and the great price Jesus was willing to pay for us. To some degree it helps us reflect on the bad news (our sin and it’s cost) that makes the Good News of the Gospel that much more powerful.

The only problem is that a pretty small percentage of the people that come to Easter will have come to the Good Friday service. So we wondered how we could both stay true to our convictions about an Easter service but also add the impact of what the Good Friday service had. Again, more decisions that lead to more work. Wonderful work but work indeed.

So this year we decided to create somewhat of a passion week walkthrough that everyone would experience right before the service. Ambitious, as we haven’t done anything like that before, but potentially incredibly impactful for all who come. This decision was made months ago and the beginnings of planning started.

Planning meetings, pastor meetings, conversations with volunteers, set design, asking other churches for help, more conversations with volunteers, creating props, more meetings… all with the hope that God will use this to impact people with His Gospel. I personally took the lead in making things happen alongside some incredible people. Long days led to not seeing my family as much in the lead up to Easter. Late nights at church, late nights at home planning, thinking, writing, talking, and then spending time from after lunch until almost 10p on Saturday evening before the big day. Waking up feeling sick the night of and struggling to turn your mind off to get the needed rest.

And then the morning comes. Last minute changes needed, volunteers who didn’t make it, problems with sound or sets, walking through things with the team, making sure the live animals are ready to go, praying and trusting God, visiting with people… and all of the sudden it is time to start.

And God shined through! He reached people and impacted in ways we couldn’t have done.

Why say all of this? One, I remember wondering about how things happened at church before I was a pastor. This gives a small glimpse into that world. But also as a reminder that many churches and pastors take each week seriously, especially Easter, and even though things look different, it is not for a lack of care. Leading can be tricky but in the end we all hope to just be faithful and watch God work.

At Angus this year we saw God work. Lives were impacted by the power of the service and the walkthrough experience. People’s lives were changed, walking out different than they came in. We worshiped God together in a beautiful way all while keeping most of the service the same as normal.

We also had one of, if not THE, largest attended services in like a decade for Angus Church. We are trusting that God reached each person as He needed to. We hope that many will come back. We’ll see.

In the end, I just want people to know how incredible God is, unimaginably gracious and merciful. If some long weeks, sleepless nights, and sweaty work days are the price to pay to help people come to know God better, then sign me up. That’s NOTHING compared to what God deserves!

I can’t wait to see everyone next week, and I am already looking forward to and planning next Easter!

See you soon!

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