If you’re anything like me, keeping the momentum going in the weeks after Lent is an annual challenge. After all, Lent is one of my favorite seasons to plan for in the church calendar. Yes, Ash Wednesday always comes too quickly and each year I find myself scrambling in January to pull everything together. But the structure of Lent – with its clear kickoff, a lovely 6-week duration, and an epic conclusion – makes for a great season of creativity and innovation.
But what about those weeks that follow between Easter and Pentecost? Often these weeks couldn’t feel MORE difficult to plan for. Not only can it be deflating to see worship attendance peak and fall after Easter, but at times I have felt like it didn’t matter what I planned, people simply were not going to show up.
So, in the spirit of Resurrection and Hope that Easter heralds, here are 5 ideas to keep the momentum going in that nebulous season after Lent:
1. Capitalize on the Energy of Easter
Easter brings a flurry of energy and crowds to our worship services. Are there ways that you can intentionally and personally extend invitations for the crowd to return after Lent? Does your community have a big Spring event scheduled? If not, consider setting a target date when you can focus your energy on re-gathering your flock again. This could be a Graduation Sunday, Confirmation Sunday, Pentecost, or another significant day in the life of your church. Make a big announcement (“reveal”) of this event in worship on Easter Sunday. Stuff the bulletins with paper invitations or magnets that can be displayed on refrigerators. Or, mail these invitations toward the end of Holy Week so they hit mailboxes right after Easter. For a personal touch, include a handwritten note along with hand addressed and stamped envelopes to visitors or members who you haven’t seen in a while.
2. Experiment with Short Term Small Groups After Lent
Don’t be fooled – in all actuality the season after Lent is just another season on the calendar. It lasts a short amount of time and has a clear beginning (Easter) and ending (Pentecost). Your church may have just wrapped up a Lent small group series, so you may be hesitant to launch another round of sermon series or book study small groups. But what if, instead, you launched a more experimental season of small groups? Last year we launched small groups that met for four weeks in the month of May. While some of the groups included a few book studies, the most popular groups were ones that invited folks to build community in local gardens, new (to us) neighborhoods, and even in a parking lot turned CrossFit class. These groups all had a discipleship component, but their primary purpose focused on community and intergenerational relationships.
3. Accept the Reality of the Season
It really can be tough to gather even your regular attenders for typical gatherings immediately after Lent. Spring games are amping up, graduations are being planned, and – let’s face it – the appeal of brunch on a patio or a family hike on a beautiful Sunday morning can be strong. So, could it be that another way to not lose the momentum of Easter is found more in accepting the reality of this challenging season and, then, leveraging it? Maybe you pick a few games or graduations to show up to, in mass. Or create a resource that makes it easy for each person in the pews to choose one game or spring concert to go and support. Can you imagine the look on the middle school boy’s face when the couple who sits behind him in church each week shows up at his baseball game? Okay, fine. He might not give them much of a reaction. But I can guarantee that inside he is thrilled. And, who knows? Maybe the next week he might actually speak to the couple at church!
4. Dive into Fall Recruiting
Alright, so this one is not so much in the “fun” idea category but, rather, it’s a realistic (and eventually ministry sustaining!) way to spend the season. If you haven’t already begun your volunteer recruiting for the Fall, this season after Lent is the time to dive in. Perhaps you have a celebratory Sunday scheduled already (Senior Sunday, Confirmation Sunday, and Teacher Appreciation Sunday all come to mind). Consider following it up with a dedicated volunteer recruitment initiative. Nothing inspires people to want to volunteer more than knowing they have and will make a difference! You may not know every single Fall volunteer you need just yet, but invest time now to compile that list. From the list, write out as many job descriptions as you can, develop a volunteer recruitment pool, and hit the phones with your requests. This work will pay dividends in the coming months. Let’s face it – if we think it’s hard to track folks down now, it will just become more difficult as folks scatter in the summer months.
And – If you’re looking for some support as you move toward fall recruiting, I’d encourage you to check out Ministry Architect’s Volunteer Accelerator and read more about why in a blog post here!
Or schedule a FREE DEMO now to find out how the Volunteer Accelerator makes volunteer recruiting easier than ever.
5. Embrace the Joy Both During AND After Lent!
Last but not least, embrace this season after Lent as a season of Joy! We are Easter people after all and this is Resurrection Season! Are there ways that you can intentionally sprinkle joy into your already scheduled programming or worship services? There are times that I put sprinkles on my toddler’s food just for the heck of it. She delights in the surprise (let’s be honest, what’s not to love about sprinkles?)! How about surprise popsicles at Sunday School? Small plants delivered to homebound members by the children? A video message of greeting in worship from a beloved community or staff member who has moved away? You’ll have to develop the ideas for your community, but the ideas are endless.
My prayer is that some of these ideas get your brain spinning as you begin to plan for after Lent. What other tips do you have for keeping the momentum going? I’d love to hear your ideas! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.