Easter week is here, and it will be like no other in our lifetime.
None of us could have anticipated or predicted COVID-19, but it did not catch God by surprise. That does not suggest that God set it in motion, but that He is still God, and He is with us.
There have been countless forecasts about how severe or how long it will go. Those who focus on health seem to talk about severity, and those who focus on the economy seem to talk about duration. Both elements are essential.
It's impossible for projections to be fully accurate, but I'm grateful for expert forecasts because we need them. It helps us all know how to prepare, prioritize and respond.
Every day we learn more, and that is good.
Ultimately, however, we don't have the answers, and we don't know the outcomes. That is, in large part, what is behind the growing sense of unease, concerns, worry, anxiety and, in many cases, fear.
Though we would never have desired it this way, there could not be a better time to present the hope of Christ.
Before we look at five ideas that can strengthen your Easter, we know there is an untold number of personal and individual fears right now, but three have risen to the top.
The Top 3 "Macro" Fears
- Health: Let's be honest; everyone has wondered for at least a moment, Will I get it? That's not fear; that's being aware and human.
Many are considering big questions like the length of life and eternity. Dwelling on that can produce worry or fear if they are unsure of their destiny.
Even if your concern is not for yourself but someone in your family or a friend, the thought is present in us all.
- Finance: Our physical security on this planet is connected to money. We can be honest about that.
Money is not the source of inner peace, happiness or the most important things, but remove it, and life becomes difficult.
Many have already been impacted and are worried or fearful about how they will pay their bills.
But where does our real security come from?
- Future: What does the future hold? What does it look like?
Even though we were never in control of the future, there was a certain level of comfort in thinking we were. That's normal and natural. But we have been reminded that even if we are in charge, we are not in control.
Leaders, in particular, are thinking about the future. What will the church look like "after..."?
The gospel encompasses all three concerns.
I'm not suggesting that you should focus entirely on these concerns—not at all.
But to omit or overlook them is to miss current reality.
And remember, the gospel is Good News!
5 Ideas to Strengthen Your Easter
- The simple truth of the gospel: The good news is that we don't need anything highly produced for Easter to have a big impact. The name of Jesus and the truth of His promise presented clearly will alone change lives.
We may miss the enjoyable traditions that make the Easter celebration great, but this year we all understand. And we may be better off by allowing this global disruption of tradition to remind us of what is core to our faith.
Don't stress over what you wanted to do on Easter but can't; lean into your potential to reach more people than ever this year.
The likely simplicity of your service compared to what is typical for you is not an excuse for "B"-level work. Excellence can be found in simplicity.
The truth of the Resurrection holds the power to set us free from all that imprisons us, including fear, anxiety and a sense of hopelessness. This is good news!
- Leadership that is authentically confident: Whoever steps up as a primary communicator on Easter must be able to communicate confidence but in an authentic manner.
Some leaders struggle with being overconfident; others wrestle with being underconfident. Both are a problem. Now more than ever is a time to be authentically confident in your leadership.
That means there is no need to pretend as if all is well, you have no concerns, and there is no reason to pull back with doubt and hesitation.
Communicating, for example, confidence in faith over fear does not mean the absence of any concerns or questions about the future.
Your confidence rests in the fact that you know the one who has the answers, and His love for us is profoundly evident.
Your ability to be real, honest and simultaneously confident matters now more than ever.
This morning, Palm Sunday, my friend Dr. Sam Chand delivered an incredible message captured in the phrase, "We are bent but not broken." He was confident yet real and honest. The hope of Christ is powerful! You can watch it here.
This is not only true for on-stage communicators, but for all of us who carry the name, Christian.
- Vision for "the other side": The sole focus of Easter is the person and message of Easter, but some expression of your faith in the future will likely include a vision for what comes after COVID-19.
The great difficulty is that no one can know for sure what that will look like! So be careful about declaring the future.
Instead, simply acknowledging that there will be a future, we'll be in it together and God is with us is a great place to start.
Again, Easter is not all about COVID-19, but we can't ignore it.
No leader can predict the future, but we can talk about how much better that future will be with Jesus.
- Engagement over attendance: We hear great reports of strong online attendance over the last three weekends. That is wonderful, and I pray it continues.
But a strong attendance alone, while we are grateful, is not the primary goal.
In what ways are you inviting people to actually engage rather than merely watch your service?
Are there creative ways they can participate?
How will you extend an invitation with a way for people to respond?
How will you follow up with "guests," and what will you invite them to? This isn't easy, but it is the opportunity before us.
One of our strongest opportunities remains: our ability to invite others for Easter! This year our friends, neighbors and coworkers don't have to show up. They can attend the "pajama" service, and the Holy Spirit still knows what to do.
Yes, it will be messy, and that's OK. Pray with enthusiasm that God will do beyond what we could imagine!
- Technology that is tested and reliable: This point may seem a bit anticlimactic, but candidly, it's critical.
You can spend 40 hours on a brilliant biblical message, but if your system goes down, it won't matter.
If you have a concern, it's not too late. There are experts you can talk with. Maybe some in your congregation.
I'm asking you to consider whether or not your delivery system is as strong as your message. Let's pray together for the greatest global response to the person and message of Christ ever!
Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.
For the original article, visit danreiland.com.
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