Focus on the Family

Seize the Easter Opportunity!

I want to encourage you to share and show the Good News of the gospel this Easter. Let’s seek after those who no longer darken our doors and remind them that they matter, they are missed, and they have a place to belong in Christ.

Each year, pastors and church leaders look forward to the highest-attended weekend of the church year: Easter Sunday. When we call the church to seize this opportunity, it is not at the expense of the Resurrection but rather as a reminder that many will hear this story only once this year. As pastors and church leaders prepare for Easter, an important question we must ask ourselves is how to take advantage of this unique opportunity for evangelism. In other words, how can we tell the story of Christ’s resurrection in our current cultural atmosphere so that those unfamiliar with the gospel narrative will find it compelling? 

The straightforward yet hard-fought answer to this question demands reflection on the patterns and trends we see in our congregations and communities. Given the instability of the past few years, we are witnessing one of the greatest church-shifting events in our lifetime: we are seeing people move from church to church to an unprecedented degree. What does that mean for us now? Beyond the work of integrating new members into our communities, this also reflects a creeping, transitory identity within our churches. People are moving more frequently, seem less invested, and are looking for connection. Understanding the underlying reasons for this shift is essential to our challenge. What are people searching for? Let me explain.  

What people are searching for

If we look closely at the patterns of church life, we are seeing considerable divergence within the congregation. Over the past three years, some people have stepped up to become more involved in church life and events in response to the pandemic and other factors. Some have stayed the same. Some have dropped out entirely. They are all worthy of our consideration. 

I often see those groups as thirds—a third have become more engaged, a third have stayed the same, and a third seem disconnected. While shifts in church participation are nothing new, this trend is concerning when we delve deeper into that last and back third of a typical post-Covid church—the people who have decreased their participation or even dropped out of church life altogether. 

Of course, some of this decline might be due to online attendance or simple demographic changes. But reflecting on this trend as we prepare for Easter, let me offer three exhortations for pastors and church leaders to reach those who may have disconnected or dropped out.

The first step in your preparation must be to reflect on what kind of burdens people bring through your doors.

What is your community experiencing? Where are their political and cultural idols? More than ever, people will come to your church looking for a place where their political opinions are justified and fostered. We must either temper the gospel through these lenses or risk their departure. We should consider how we can use the power of the resurrection to comfort and confront, to encourage and convict, and to find identity and mission. This is a tough tightrope to walk, but a worthy one. I also suggest that we remember that the gospel story, and yes—even the resurrection—has something to say to all of us, no matter how long we have been Christians. How does the resurrection address the body of Christ?

What’s stirring in people’s hearts

Second, we must consider what is stirring in peoples’ hearts right now as we enter a season of unusual spiritual activity. We are seeing a high level of interest in things like revivals and spirituality. Simultaneously, the broader culture is still filled with tumult and turbulence. In the midst of all that, we have lost a significant number of people from our churches. Perhaps you are seeing this in the life of your church—the last third (from above) may represent dozens (or even hundreds of people, depending on the size of the church) who have disconnected. 

It is disingenuous for us to say that North Americans have moved beyond religion or spirituality simply because we are experiencing lower numbers of church attendance.

The truth is that people are still interested in developing their spiritual lives—they just are not always coming to us. For some, this looks like cultivating their Christian life outside the church. For others, it means attempting to revive the folk beliefs of their ancestors. North Americans are still interested in learning about ultimate truth and goodness. 

The Easter promise of newfound life and eternity with God is the perfect entry point for discussing ultimate truth, goodness, and identity with people looking for answers. We have a God who accomplished goodness and salvation for us and continues to guide us with his Spirit today The world around us continues to seek ultimate good, and we know him personally. We have answers to their questions.

Seeking the final third

Third, just because that final third has disconnected or dropped out does not mean they do not exist. In our time of limitless connection, a record number of people experience social isolation. Some of your people might have merely fallen out because they felt disconnected or were unsure of their place in the congregation; you still can tell them that the church is meeting again, and their presence has been missed. Now, some people may still be hesitant because of COVID, and you can encourage them to take some next steps to stay engaged and involved.

Still, the bigger group of people are just people who stopped coming. Across the country, there are millions of people who were engaged in the church’s life at a low level before but who are now not involved at all. What does the Easter message promise these disconnected people? What hope can it provide them, or what about the resurrection should draw them back into the life of the church? How can we encourage them to return without condemnation, shame, or climbing on our high horse?

My appeal for this Easter season is that we not forget this missing third, thinking with care and empathy about how we can seize this unique opportunity to draw them to the resurrection of Jesus. I want to encourage you to share and show the Good News of the gospel this Easter. We must share the work of Christ through his crucifixion and his resurrection! To do that, we must find the missing third.

Let’s seek after those who no longer darken our doors and remind them that they matter, they are missed, and they have a place to belong in Christ. For those who have left the faith, may we prayerfully reach out with compassion so that they might respond by grace and through faith to follow Jesus and recommit their lives to Christ. 

Let’s go make much of Jesus. 


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