Over the past twelve months, how we do church has changed significantly. With capacity regulations and health requirements, it’s been difficult to gather as a community.
Most churches have, at least in part, moved to online services and small groups over Zoom. Where the weather is warm, some congregations have created outdoor, socially-distanced services, but in many parts of the country, that isn’t an option because of space restraints and the climate.
Easter is coming, and we all want it to feel special. The celebration of the resurrection is at the core of our faith. It’s our hope for the future, and it’s absolutely central to the gospel message we proclaim. So how can we give Easter its due when with lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions still in force in many parts of the country?
Will Easter look different this year? Probably. But that doesn’t mean it has to be any less meaningful. Here are a few ways to celebrate Easter with your church family this year:
1. Make your online services extra special. You’re probably already doing livestreaming your Sunday services, but Easter shouldn’t be the same old, same old. For example, if your church normally has a sunrise service, stream your service from a beautiful outdoor location and keep that tradition alive. Make sure the planning is just as intense, even though you won’t all be in the same building.
2. Consider a drive-thru communion service and drive-in Easter. Commemorating the Lord’s Supper is an essential part of grappling with the truth of Good Friday and the immeasurable grace of Resurrection Sunday. Many churches have found hosting a drive-thru communion service on Good Friday to be a meaningful and fun way to remember the body and blood of Jesus as a community. On Easter Sunday, consider hosting a drive-in experience. Being able to gather while respecting social-distancing guidelines is a win-win, and is sure to be welcome by your community. An FM transmitter will allow everyone to listen from their cars, using the radio.
3. Create a Holy Week activity pack for families. While many activities that would normally take place during Easter week are now too difficult to pull off because of health restrictions, many families in your church are still eager to focus on all that the week means for their faith. Equip these families with a Bible reading plan, devotional readings and videos, craft activities, games, and lessons for the little ones, worship song selections, and more.
Some churches have gone as far as to create an Easter-in-a-box experience, designed to be used in conjunction with online services. Ask people to sign up beforehand, then send them palm branches for Palm Sunday, communion elements, printed Scripture readings, and other essentials to make church at home still feel like gathering together.
Your imagination and budget are your only limitations. Whatever you decided, be sure to use social media to make it a truly interactive experience.
4. Start every morning of Holy Week with prayer. Using Zoom or other video conferencing software, invite everyone in your church to gather from their homes for morning prayer. You may want to begin with a short teaching from Scripture designed to focus your prayer on a particular aspect of the Passion and resurrection narratives, or ask the prayer warriors in your church to take turns leading.
5. Celebrate hope. Hosting an Easter egg hunt may be a challenge in some places, but everyone can participate in a “hope hunt.” Ask your congregation to snap pictures of anything that’s bringing them hope—a flower in bloom, a kindness on display, Scripture or crosses in public—and then post them on social media with a hashtag unique to your church.
6. Get on the phone. For those who will be alone or who are struggling with health issues, Easter can be an especially difficult time. As a community, be sure these folks are being loved, even if it has to be from a distance. Organize a call list to make sure these members of your community are receiving a personal touch from their brothers and sisters in Christ.
7. Create an Easter playlist. Using Spotify or your music app of choice, create a playlist of songs that focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then invite your congregation to listen, meditate, and worship.
8. Record mini-messages to keep the focus on Jesus. One of the blessings of not being able to gather together in person is that people crave connection more than ever before. By recording short video messages each day leading up to Easter, you can help everyone focus on Jesus, no matter what else is going on in life. Social media is a great conduit for spreading these around, but you may also want to consider using your church’s app (if you have one), so that everyone gets a notification when a new video is available.
Over to you
This year’s Easter celebration will be different, so as you think about what you can do within your community to make the most important day on the calendar truly special, think about what you will miss the most, then craft your plans with that “missing element” as your focus.