LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH

Pastor John

Pastor John

21 Things I Liked About Easter 2021

  1. That we actually had in-person Easter services—whether outdoors or inside buildings!
  2. The stunning number of people who showed up for the 7:15am outdoor Sunrise service. 516 people came to that service alone! I’ll be the first to admit that is over double what I expected. Oh me of little faith.
  3. The volunteer teams at both campuses were absolutely incredible. I’ve heard reports that several volunteers who just stepped up to help for Easter now plan to make serving a regular part of their church experience. That is a win/win every time!
  4. The New Here? Centers did their job and then some. We had a total of 60 new families stop by our New Here? Centers at Apopka and Lake County. The new gift we gave out helped, but the strategic locations ofNew Here? Centers and an intentional strategy to connect people to them was on point.
  5. The total onsite, in-person attendance was 2,853 (2,559 @ Apopka, 294 @ Lake County). To put that in perspective, that’s 60% of what our last Easter in-person attendance was in 2019. I was hoping for 50% so I’m thrilled with that turnout.
  6. Even with the higher in-person numbers, our online community saw a 64% increase over the average online audience for the year. We created a special online-only Easter worship experience and people responded to it in ways that exceeded our expectations. I included a special challenge at the end of my message for our online audience to comment or chat that “My hope is in Jesus” and dozens of people lit up our platforms proclaiming that hope.
  7. A man attended the 10AM worship service at Apopka. He asked about being baptized at the New Here? Center after the service and then went home. But the conviction to respond to the Lord was so great, he got back in his car and drove back to our Apopka campus and was baptized at the end of the 11:30am service. Only God does stuff like that folks.
  8. Because of his obedience to the Lord’s prompting, a woman at the 11:30 service heard his story, witnessed his baptism and said, “I want to be baptized too” and plans to be baptized this Sunday. Again, only God.
  9. The music was the “best ever” for an Easter Sunday. Our worship teams covered all the bases and touched every heart. There was a high-energy gospel opener, an old-school Gaither throwback tune, and an innovative digital choir singing behind a live band. Wow! Just wow! If you didn’t get see the digital choir, click here to watch it.
  10. 10. The branding, marketing and messaging for Easter was the most connected, most integrated for any Easter I’ve been a part of. I’m talking about everything from the graphics, the invite cards, the message bumper, the videos, the social media invite tools and digital advertising—everything connected to everything else. A huge shout out for this to our Communications Team led by Tiana Perez and our Media Director, Mark Wilson.
  11. Journey Kids at both locations were ready and responded beautifully to whatever number showed up at each of the services, whether they were low or high. At one service in Apopka, three additional classrooms were opened in a matter of minutes to make room for kids. That’s on-the-spot leadership at its finest. Thanks Tammy Joseph, Melanie Confusione, and Sarah Stephens for being difference makers for so many families.
  12. The parking lot crew and door greeters did a great job of welcoming, identifying new people, and directing them to connect at the appropriate places. Kas Conley at Apopka and Julie Jenks at Lake County did an amazing job organizing all things Connections related and were at the top of their game.
  13. The special Easter photo backdrop spots literally had a line before and after almost every service. And may I say we have a high number of extremely photogenic families!
  14. The volunteers who served coffee were busy, friendly and helpful…and that’s a great combination.
  15. Leah Dunn’s video testimony was so impactful. It was sincere and relatable and a great reason to go through Rooted if you haven’t already. If you didn’t get a chance to see Leah’s video, you can do so by clicking here.
  16. Snacks and refreshments for volunteers and staff were well stocked and heavily used and take it from me, being at church from 7AM to 2:30PM makes for a very LONG DAY.
  17. Naps. Nuff’ said.
  18. I am one blessed pastor to get to serve with so many talented and willing people.
  19. Seeing SO many people back in person that I haven’t seen in over a year. “You can’t blow bubbles online.” (Ask Pastor Eddie what that means.)
  20. Celebrating my 40th Easter sermon. Even as I type that, I’m stunned. 40 years of preaching on Easter Sunday. What an unbelievable blessing.
  21. Getting to do it again this Sunday…without all the Easter only elements and services, of course. Are you ready to Shift Your If…from “if only” regrets to “what if” possibilities? Let’s do this.

Loving the still-celebrating Journey,

Pastor John