Five ways to ensure your Easter Sunday guests never return

You know what “the C&E crowd” is, right? It is pastor code for the people who only attend church for Christmas and Easter. These guests present a challenge to church leadership because everyone wants them to attend more often, but no one seems to have a solution.

It could be true that most of these guests have never come to faith in Christ. It may be the adult attendees are merely repeating with their children the pattern of their own childhood. It may be the young adult attendees are mollifying one parent or the other to keep peace in the family. Perhaps Christmas and Easter are the final touch-points of a dwindling faith. Or, there could be other reasons entirely.

What if our Easter guests think a large percentage of those seated around them also only come to church on Easter? Guests do not know who is a guest and who is member. The range of guests’ emotions spans happiness to discomfort to paranoia.

If your are a church leader you might give thought to this: if every Easter brings the same songs, same skits, same sermon, same virtually everything, some guests might rightfully think you are a one-trick pony. Maybe show them something different. Give them reasons to wonder whether Christmas and Easter are really all they need.

Since we can debate forever how to get these particular attendees to return between Christmas and Easter, here are five ways to ensure they never return.

1. Fill the announcements and your sermon with insider comments about the church.
Most Easter guests already know they are on the outside. Keep them away by emphasizing just how far outside they are from the “fellowship” of your church. Keep the outsiders out with obscure references about the church’s life. If you refer to a member from the pulpit make sure to use only their first name as if everyone should know who he or she is.

2. Make reference to “the C&E crowd.”
There is no criticism like criticism from the stage. Be sure–on one of the two days in 2016 they will attend–to brand them publicly, negatively. The more times you can mock the fact that some people only come to church for weddings, funerals, Christmas and Easter the less likely they’ll listen to the parts of the sermon that may contain some gospel.

3. Provide no help in navigating your campus.
Ushers and greeters should be preoccupied with determining who has never been (one cannot hear that too much) rather than a simple, “Can I help you?” Repeated asking, “Is this your first time at our church?” does not make one feel at home. It drives home the reality that they stand out just by showing up.

4. Make sure your guests know it is not okay to just check things out.
The more difficult you make it to get basic information about the church the less likely they are to come back. Make sure your website is not up to date. Check to see that your church Facebook page does not mention any recent activity. Do not publish office phone numbers and email addresses. Give them the impression they should already know everything.

5. Use a greeting style that singles them out as different.
Have them sit while everyone else stands (providing a bird’s eye view of protruding guts and hind parts). Have them stand while everyone else sits (so the congregation can judge them on appearance). Have them raise a hand to receive some kind of visitor card (and make them wonder if the church SWAT team plans to show up unannounced). Generally, make them feel like all eyes are on them.

If you will make sure to do these things, be confident you will return to your normal attendance next Sunday.

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Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • CharliePharis

    Related to #2…so you don’t think it would be a good thing to begin my message with: “As I was saying at Christmas….”? :)

  • Kevin Bussey

    Make sure you tell them you want to be the 1st to wish them Merry Christmas!

  • Patrick

    Don’t put on a show that can’t be recreated the 51 other Sundays of the year. If you’re not having live animals or a full orchestra, or Matt Redman or giving away an iPad every week, why set up that expectation when you have guests?

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