Easter is a big day for every preacher. It is called the super bowl of the Christian calendar. And for good reason. Most churches will see their highest attendance of the year this weekend. Pastors across America are sweating about this weekend, the details, their sermon, trying to come up with something fresh to not miss an opportunity.
The way we preach on Easter, though, should be the way we preach every weekend. Here are some things we should know and do every Easter (and every other weekend) in our sermons:
1. Point people to Jesus.
This seems obvious, but it isn’t. On Easter, we talk about Jesus, point people to Him, and talk about how He is the hero of the story and not us, how He is the answer we are looking for. Do this the other 51 sermons you will preach this year as well.
2. Preach with boldness.
I have sat through too many sermons, and sadly, preached too many sermons as if I or the preacher weren’t sure about what they were saying. Pastors, do your homework, be prayed up, confessed up, and then stand up and say, “This is what the Bible says, and this is why you need to listen.” Then say it and sit down and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
3. Be clear.
Whatever you ask people to do after your message, be clear. Have one or two next steps, that’s it. Be clear. Say, “If you want to respond tonight, here is how to respond _______________.” Leave no doubt as to what they should do next.
4. The Holy Spirit likes to show up when we talk about Jesus.
That’s true, and I don’t know what else to say about it, but it is true.
5. Know that everyone is cheering you on.
On Easter, people in your church will bring someone with them. This might be the first time they've brought someone to your church. While this brings added pressure to every preacher, this is also a comfort. Everyone in your church who brings someone this week or any other week is your biggest fan. They are praying for you, cheering you on, hoping that you will give it your all. They are sitting in that seat next to their friend asking God to move through you for their friend's sake. Always remember, preaching is a team sport.
6. You don’t need to hit a home run.
This seems counterintuitive for Easter, but follow me. The goal every week is to get on base, not to hit a home run. Home runs are great, but home run hitters tend to have a low batting average. Get on base. Each week when you preach, the goal is to help people take one more step in their spiritual journey; that might mean salvation, but it may also mean they just come back next week. Both are a win.
7. Eternities and lives hang in the balance.
There is a weight to preaching that is hard to describe and understand unless you do it. One pastor described it as reaching onto the road to hell and pulling people back. Not theologically accurate, but it is how it feels. When I preach, I think of that guy sitting in the back row who showed up this weekend telling God, “You have one last chance; either move in my life tonight, or I’m not coming back.” There are couples there who are ready to throw in the towel, students who are ready to stop living a life of purity, men and women looking for hope and answers. What you say when you open God’s Word matters.
8. Give them hope.
That is the message of Jesus: hope. We are broken, sinful people who can’t fix ourselves. Trying hard won’t do it. Our only hope is to follow the Man who already completed it.
Those are just a few truths for you to keep in mind this week as you prep to stand before your church and open God’s Word. It is an unbelievable responsibility and a great honor.