When I was a kid, I was enamored with stunt performer Evel Knievel. He was famous for doing all these crazy jumps with his motorcycle. I had his little toy that you could wind up, and it would launch him and his bike forward. I remember setting up little ramps and trying to get him to jump stuff. It didn’t work at all like the commercial said it would, but I loved it. In one of Knievel’s most famous jumps, or infamous jumps, he crashed on the landing and was hurt pretty bad. He was attempting to jump 12 cars and a cargo van. The crash was a result of not having enough distance on the takeoff, keeping him from getting up to the speed needed to clear all the vehicles. The image of him crashing was shown over and over. Oddly enough, the crash got him the publicity required to launch a successful career. People wanted to watch knowing the danger and the high risk of a potential crash. The failed stunt also taught the valuable lesson that he needed to ensure there was more room to take off successfully.
One key feature about all of Evel Knievel’s jumps was that he never had a problem with the launch ramps. The real challenge was the landing, the offramp. Just about anyone can guide a motorcycle up a ramp but the landing, that’s where skill, and planning, and just the right amount of stunt knowledge was put to the test. No one was interested in the takeoff; everyone wanted to see the landing. This same principle applies to effective ministry in our churches. We can start well, do everything right on the front end, but if we don’t have effective offramps, well, the ensuing crash can be ugly.
Easter will provide an onramp for your church. People will attend more, we know. More of the committed folks in our churches will step up to serve and mobilize for the day. But we must have effective offramps if we want to see ongoing health and growth. If not, we will see a surge in attendance for a few weeks, and that’s it. In order to ensure the effectiveness of all our efforts on Easter, we must focus on the offramps.
Offramps are the opportunities we have to move people into active, ongoing ministry. The question we must ask is: What will people do after they attend on Easter Sunday? We can plan an excellent preaching series that encourages people to return. That’s a significant first step, but we have to think about more than just getting people to come back. People need more than a creative hook to connect with the church. They need to know what to do next, and those next steps must meet four essential criteria:People need more than a creative hook to connect with the church. They need to know what to do next. Click To Tweet
People need to see how the next steps move them toward spiritual growth. We aren’t talking about checking a box and being “done”, but an ongoing process that helps them make sense of why they are doing it in the first place. Movement toward community, accountability, and multiplication is critical if we want people to take the journey.
In order to have offramps that are effective, we must show how they connect everyone in the family across all ministries. Your offramps need to connect with every area of the church. It is crucial that people see how the steps are vital for them, their spouse, their children, etc. Evaluate what you are asking people to do and determine how it all connects in your church.
The offramps you develop must be clear. Clarity comes from precision. If there is a hodge-podge of various offerings, they won’t know where to begin. Worse, without clarity, people will more easily fall through the cracks of various opportunities. This is how we make it easy for people to go out the back door rather than connect in effective ministry.
No matter what your offramps are, they need to have simple, easy to understand next steps. For example, you want to see everyone who attends on Easter find a small group for biblical community. Are you preparing ways for them to find this information on Easter Sunday? How will you follow up with them about this next step? Are your group leaders prepared for new people who may never have attended groups before? If people don’t make that simple connection on Easter, you have already potentially lost them. Whatever the offramps are, make sure there is an easy step for everyone to engage with on Easter Sunday. Whether it’s a video, you show explaining things, or a card or brochure they get when they arrive. Plan ahead so that the opportunities aren’t missed.
Take some time with your leadership to navigate these four elements of offramps before Easter. Develop a plan so that you are prepared to connect those who visit. You want to help stick the landing on a big day like this in your church. If not, much like Evel Knievel’s crash landings, our efforts will conclude in a mess. We can only control so much when it comes to our programming and processes as a church. We know and trust that God will move and do what only He can do. But we can count the cost, and be as prepared as possible to maximize the opportunities He brings our way. Why would He bring us more people if we are not prepared to effectively minister to them? Prayerfully, we will engage in the preparation before Easter so that we are ready to respond to every opportunity.Why would He bring us more people if we are not prepared to effectively minister to them? Click To Tweet