Though we celebrate the resurrection power of Jesus every week, Easter Sunday is special. Not only do we set it aside to focus primarily on the resurrection, but it’s also a unique evangelistic opportunity. It’s one of the few mornings when the unchurched come to us.
As such, how might worship leaders best prepare to lead believers and non-believers alike?
In an interview with worship leader Mark Swayze, we gained valuable insight on planning for Easter services. Mark is a longtime worship leader with a heart to see God’s people praise Him.
What does Easter look like at your church?
The Harvest service (where I lead), a gathering at the Woodlands United Methodist Church, will welcome 6,000 people this weekend at Easter. We have two Good Friday services and four Easter services.
Note: This article was originally published in March 2018.
How do you prepare for an Easter service differently than a regular Sunday? Or is it the same as other Sundays?
We really have moved our Holy Week services from attractional to missional. Though we recognize that creative inspiration and excellence is vitally important, our main focus is on the community’s worship. We pick simple worship songs that have appropriate themes for each particular service. But we do pride ourselves on “simple,” and have seen growth every year because of it.
We pray as a community for God’s tangible presence on Easter weekend. God is what people need and what they (whether they recognize it or not) long for. We want to nurture an environment where people meet God.
Do you lead with visitors in mind? Do you speak differently from the mic that morning because of the different crowd? What about song choice?
A vital, growing, engaged community is incredibly attractive to those who only enter our community several times a year. We want everyone to sing LOUDLY.
If we can pick Easter songs our congregation recognizes or knows, it really helps lift the room Godward, since they are able to focus on worshipping rather than following the song. Practically speaking, that means four of five songs are familiar.
How much extra time goes into trying to make Easter morning impactful?
Of course, we want our team to feel prepared, so we rehearse an extra time during the week. If we can get to where we aren’t focusing on what notes to play or lyrics to sing, it will help us become more engaged with those we are leading. We have seen great testimony arise out of this weekend. Someone who does not regularly attend church will come to an Easter weekend service and experience true life change.
We believe this weekend is great for evangelism. So we want to be prepared, but we want to pray for God to move, because at the end of day, His presence is the most attractive and important part. It’s about the simple gospel, presented in the environment of simple worship.
How basic, yet how profound. Keeping it simple helps us focus on our Savior. Let’s center on the resurrection power of Jesus. Let’s lead the church and let newcomers be impressed not by our swagger but by our Savior. And let’s lead mostly familiar songs, such that regular attenders can pour their hearts out and the new folks can wonder who this Jesus is they’re singing to so passionately.
Learn more about Mark Swayze at markswayze.com.