Seven Insights from Churches about the Recent Easter Weekend

We’ve done a lot of listening and learning the week after Easter. We at Church Answers are grateful for consulting and coaching clients and for the large community at Church Answers Central.

Though our information is more anecdotal rather than data-based, it is nevertheless insightful. Here are seven key takeaways we gleaned from church leaders about the recent Easter weekend:

1. A surprising number of unchurched persons attended Good Friday services. More churches are offering Good Friday services than in the past. For the first time, we heard that unchurched persons attended these services in surprisingly greater numbers. In fact, some church leaders indicated that they had more unchurched in Good Friday services than Easter services.

2. There seems to be a greater spiritual hunger in the communities the churches serve. Obviously, there is a relationship between the first two points. And while it’s difficult to measure spiritual hunger, church leaders heard enough comments and had sufficient people respond to them the week after Easter to make this observation confidently.

3. Simplicity was effective and appropriate. Fewer church leaders reported that they had major Easter productions or pageants. Their services were simple yet profound. For many churches today, Easter is more of a time of reflection and quiet celebration than a major production.

4. Evangelism was more intentional. The trend about increasing evangelistic intentionality preceded the most recent Easter weekend. But this intentionality continued through Easter. Many church leaders reported more people choosing to follow Christ than they can recall for an Easter weekend.

5. Most churches did not have record attendance. In fact, among our small sample, fewer than one of ten churches reported that this Easter was a day of highest attendance. And seven in ten reported that their attendance was slightly lower than the previous year’s Easter attendance.

6. Easter Sunday attendees were primarily church members. Once again, Easter Sunday seems to be the unofficial reunion day when most of the members show up on the same day. As noted in number one, more churches reported unchurched persons on Good Friday than Easter Sunday.

7. Digital streaming services attendance continues to decline in most churches. This trend continued on Easter Sunday.

Keep in mind that our observations are anecdotal. I do appreciate those who spoke to us, wrote to us, or contributed to the community at Church Answers Central. We would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

What was your Easter weekend like at your church?


P. S. Consider joining our community at Church Answers. Nearly 2,000 church leaders are with us every day:

Posted on April 17, 2023

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • RevMikeyMac says on

    We also had lower attendance on Easter than we did last year; our Easter Sunday attendance was less than Palm Sunday attendance (our children sang on Palm Sunday, which brought in more parents/grandparents)!

    We knew before Easter Sunday that we would have a number of families and individuals away for Easter Sunday. Even a member of our worship team took his family (they have three young kids) to Disney World over Easter weekend! What?!

    But this highlights another reason for our lower attendance: our local public schools had Friday and Monday off, so many families took advantage of the opportunity for a vacation.

    We still had a great Easter service – as you said: simple, no big production. It felt more like a typical “high attendance” Sunday, with a few folks who were visiting family and a few other guests/first time attenders.

  • Michael Pope says on

    I pastor two small congregations in the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination in Saint Charles County, Missouri. Both churches that I pastor are located on a hill within 1 block of State Highway 94 in two separate communities. Emmanuel UCC (EUCC) in Weldon Spring was founded in 1866, while St. Paul UCC (SPUCC) in Defiance was founded in 1906. Paradoxically, the 1866 and the 1906 congregations have nearly identical membership statistics, with approximately 30 active and participating members each and an average attendance of about 20-22 each Sunday. St. Paul’s UCC is located in a more rural, small town, and has more local and residential, multi-family members, and they had three times as many worshippers (60) as EUCC, which has a more suburban, non-residential, and predominantly single-adult membership (23). The SPUCC congregation had three times as many non-members/guests as the EUCC congregation and had a lot of people who visited who were related to the members or who had once attended that church while the EUCC congregation had fewer close relatives attending. The EUCC congregation had one elderly couple with a United Methodist background shopping for another church to join, and they were looking for a more traditional worship style of worship, which is similar to our church.

  • Our church did have a record attendance on Easter. We had over 700 attendees and nearly a hundred adults and kids responded to an invitation to receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
    The only thing special we had was an Easter egg hunt and activities for the kids between our first and second services and between our third and fourth services.
    We are in a fast growing area between a major city and rural town. Tens of thousands of homes are being built all around us.
    What was interesting to me was that our attendance the Sunday after Easter was only a few people less than Easter. Typically there is a drop off to below average the Sunday after Easter but not this time. We did have water baptisms after each service with 20+ people being baptized. We had many guests who came to witness family member’s baptisms.

    • My son-in-law who pastors in a small rural town about twenty miles from us saw a record attendance as well. He too had an above average attendance the Sunday after Easter.

  • John Knox Foster says on


    I am a pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. My evidence is also anecdotal, but very different from what the folks at Church Answers are seeing. My congregation had record attendance, as did my dad’s and another friend of ours (all three EPC churches).

  • Greg Corbin says on

    In suburban Birmingham, Alabama we are seeing some of these trends. We began offering a Good Friday service on Friday evening last year and the attendance for it has greatly exceeded all expectations. Guests present for a Good Friday service. Evidently we defied the trend of lower Easter attendance, as we had 15% more than we had last Easter. The second largest Easter attendance in the last ten years, I believe. Our online live stream viewership has decline preciptiously like most churches. Anecdotally, it seems that most of the people watching are our older members who aren’t able to come but stay connected by watching faithfully each Sunday and some of our most faithful members who watch when they are out of town. Interestingly, in recent months, I have had multiple guests tell me they watched out services online before deciding to come in person. So, it appears that online services do provide an important window for people we have never seen before to take a look.

  • Robin G Jordan says on

    One survey of church attendance in the United Kingdom I read in the last 60 days found that Church of England churches that discontinued livestreaming their services were experiencing poorer in-person attendance than those which continued to livestream their services. I draw attention to that study as a caution to those who are considering discontinuing livestreaming their services due to declining viewership.

    I post two weekly services online–one for Thursday evenings and one for Sundays. They are not livestreamed but consist of prayers, a Scripture reading, and a short message which the viewer must read themselves and videos of hymns and songs to which I provide the lyrics so that the viewer can sing along with the video. It is a low tech approach that I began employing because I found older people had difficulty navigating Zoom and I wanted to offer a kind of service i which viewers could participate. The services are targeted people who are unable to attend a local church, traveling, exploring the Christian faith and way of life , or otherwise might benefit from them. I launched the services at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when the church where I had been preaching suspended its in-person services. The number of viewers has been growing slowly, now averaging 30 to 35 viewers with 40 plus viewers of the Easter Sunday service. The challenge is identifying who are the viewers, where they are located, and who are the repeat viewers and their location. Since there is no discernible interaction between the viewers, I do not classify the website as a online faith community but as an online meeting place.

    I have suggested to viewers that they might use the website as resource for small group worship in someone’s home or some other non-traditional setting. A laptop could be hooked up to a multimedia projector and the prayers , Scripture reading, and hymn and song lyrics projected onto a screen. A member of the group could give the message.

    The idea for these services can be partly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and partly to the splintering we are seeing in a number of denominations. One of the consequences of this splintering is the creation of small pockets of Christians who have no local church in their particular church tradition that they can attend. The planting of a new conventional church may not be a realistic possibility due to the demographics of the particular locality and other factors . A possible solution to this situation which came to my mind is the formation of micro-churches gathering in homes and other non-traditional settings. In some regions these micro-churches might network together for occasional larger gatherings.