The article is a part of the Easter Aftermath series.
Nobody would say a marriage is a success because two people exchanged vows. That’s simply the starting point. A successful marriage should be gauged by how healthy the relationship is. It isn’t something that can be effectively measured without time and effort. But we can do things to ensure a marriage starts healthy and grows in a healthy direction. Pre-marital counseling. Consistent prayer and hard work toward strengthening the relationship. A biblical view of the roles of husband and wife. We see the model for this in the Scripture, so we don’t have to make it up ourselves. 1 Corinthians clarifies biblical love. Ephesians 5 clarifies love and respect from the couple in a growing healthy marriage. Even so, in the US 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.
But what does that have to do with gauging the success of Easter and other highly attended services in our churches? We celebrate these days in the same way we would a marriage: sharing pictures, posting attendance and decision numbers and hoping everything progresses toward successful growth both spiritually and numerically. But all too often we make the same mistake many make in marriage by not focusing on the health and growth of the people afterward.
Celebrating decisions without a plan for making disciples is like celebrating the wedding without planning to help people through the marriage. This is not a process the church should emulate. People need to be discipled, just like Jesus discipled Peter, James, and John. Just like He built biblical community with the twelve.Celebrating decisions without a plan for making disciples is like celebrating the wedding without planning to help people through the marriage. This is not a process the church should emulate. Click To Tweet
When it comes to Easter, most churches look forward to a spike in attendance, an uptick in new guests, and fresh excitement for a new series. But it can be difficult to see how all of these elements impact the ongoing life of the church. Even the best follow-up strategies can fall short. But we must press into this issue if we honestly want to gauge effectiveness.
I’m not writing about the follow-up process itself. Whether you call or visit or email every visitor you had on Easter or any highly attended gathering for that matter, there is something critical we can miss with our processes if we aren’t careful. We must learn to focus on where we want to go as intently as we focus on where we have been. The excitement of one great week must be matched with the excitement of what can happen as a result of effective disciple-making. We should absolutely celebrate every win, but not lose sight of the ongoing call to make disciples. To do that, we must be laser-focused on the next steps of our people.The excitement of one great week must be matched with the excitement of what can happen as a result of effective disciple-making. Click To Tweet
While this may not sound groundbreaking, it can make all the difference in how successful highly attended days are in our churches. When it comes to personal spiritual growth, the next step is too often implied. We must make it clear and simple while providing a plan, or pathway for every individual. It must transcend joining the church. Moving people to their next step should be an integral part of every facet of our ministries.
Here are four ways next steps help us gauge the success of highly attended days like Easter:
Focus on Equipping believers.
Ephesians 4 is clear on what the role of church leadership is: Equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. And yet we often find it easier to do it all ourselves. This results in tired, burned out pastors who bear the bulk of the work. It was never supposed to be this way. Having clear and simple next steps means helping all those who attend or make decisions on highly attended days move toward becoming doers of the ministry rather than consumers. The next step model says, “Let us equip you for ministry,” instead of simply welcoming folks to occupy a chair in weekly services.
Discipleship is not optional.
Following Jesus is a lifetime journey of learning and growing. It is putting into practice all that He has commanded. Too often our churches indicate the finish line as the baptismal waters. But that’s just the beginning. While a new believer’s next step is certainly baptism, it’s not the final step. Christ calls us to join Him in His kingdom work here and now, not just after we leave this earth. Moving people from decision to discipleship should be a hallmark of our ministries, not an exception. Highly attended days like Easter are perfect opportunities to help people plug into a lifestyle of discipleship, investing their lives in others to become more like Jesus.Moving people from decision to discipleship should be a hallmark of our ministries, not an exception. Click To Tweet
Biblical community is critical.
Our worship services, at their best, offer opportunities to lift the name of Jesus high in musical worship, focus on preaching the word of God and gathering together with one goal of glorifying Christ. But there is little biblical community in a large room focused on a stage. We must gather in groups where lives can be shared, people can bring their issues, and brothers and sisters in Christ can bear one another’s burdens practicing the “one another’s “ spelled out in God’s word. This next step most typically happens in a Sunday school class or small group gathering. Success on highly attended days like Easter should move people on a clear and simple pathway towards biblical community.Take a moment and see how many of those baptized moved into this life-giving environment to really gauge the effectiveness of the day.Success on highly attended days like Easter should move people on a clear and simple pathway towards biblical community. Click To Tweet
Multiplication is the goal.
Addition is so easy. Not just in math, but also in church work. Adding a few new faces doesn’t take much more than a holiday like Easter, or a new series, or an invite from a friend. Multiplication, on the other hand, is much more difficult. Multiplication relies on the people, equipped with the word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God to invest themselves in the lives of others who will then go and do the same. I vaguely remember Jesus doing something like this… All kidding aside, when we provide the next step of biblical disciple-making, all of our people are equipped with the Jesus authorized ministry of multiplying themselves in the lives of others. Ask this question: How did Easter or any other highly attended day result in multiplication? If all you saw was addition, then you must inspect your model of ministry.
While next steps are nothing new, intentionally helping people see and understand their next step is invaluable to maximize the impact of highly attended days like Easter, and really, any day you gather to worship. By evaluating the weeks following those big days, you will see the fruit of your existing model. Is it producing the results you think it should be? Does it resemble Jesus’ method of making disciples? Were your Easter services really a success?