FARMINGTON — Easter is one of the few times the pews at churches fill up.

Even people who don't go to services most Sundays find their way into churches to listen to sermons. For pastors, this provides an opportunity to reach out to these people and, perhaps, convince them to attend church more frequently.

The Kingdom Connection Cowboy Church, 5878 U.S. Highway 64 in Bloomfield, will host its service outside, surrounding the arena. The Rev. Benny Cogburn said he expects a couple thousand people to attend, which is a lot more than the church's normal 150 attendants.

"My Easter sermon is a salvation sermon," Cogburn said.

The focus of the sermon will be taken from the Gospel of John and will center around Lazarus and how Jesus said he was the resurrection and the life, Cogburn said.

"We (the church) set a goal to see 1000 souls saved this Easter weekend," Cogburn said.

Last year, between a church barbecue and the Easter service, Kingdom Connection added five or six families to its congregation, he said.

Cogburn said a lot of people who go to Kingdom Connection are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Once they experience the love of God, they are able to transform their lives, he said.

Saving souls is the easy part, Cogburn said. Mentoring them is the challenge.

One of the ways Kingdom Connection provides that mentoring is a summer program that allows youth to work with horses. The church also focuses on developing the skills different members have and using them to mentor new members, Cogburn said.

Stephen Marquez, the pastor at Farmington's New Life in Christ Ministries, 1108 N. Dustin Ave., said returning to church is a choice everyone makes. Getting people to return to church is about getting them to understand that we need each other, he said.

"Being on earth together is a fellowship of togetherness," Marquez said.

Marquez's Easter sermon will focus on Romans 8:28, which says: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

The verse isn't generally used as an Easter passage, he said. Marquez said he wants people to understand that because of Jesus, there is a plan for salvation.

In addition to the sermon, New Life will be bringing in David Velasquez, a Christian musician, for the second consecutive year.

Kathy Potter, the pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Bloomfield, 1105 N. First St.
The Rev. Benny Cogburn with the Kingdom Connnection Cowboy Church sets up for a Easter Weekend church service and rodeo on Friday.
The Rev. Benny Cogburn with the Kingdom Connnection Cowboy Church sets up for a Easter Weekend church service and rodeo on Friday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
, said her sermon is going to be entitled "Jesus Still Finds Us" and will focus on passages found in the Gospel of Luke.

Potter said most of the congregation comes regularly, however the church gets numerous visitors on Easter Sunday. She said the church members let the visitors know that God loves them.

"We serve a living God," Potter said. "He is aware of where we are at all times."

At Aztec Baptist Church, 1219 S. Main Ave. in Aztec, the Rev. John McEver said his sermon will be focusing on the third chapter of Acts, in which Peter, one of Jesus' followers, preaches to the Jewish community and tells them about Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

McEver said he believes when new people attend the church, God gives him an opportunity, and the congregation tries to look on the newcomers with compassion.

The message he hopes to present on Easter is about the cross and its connection to Easter. He said it's impossible to talk about the crucifixion without talking about the resurrection.

The resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from any other world religion, he said. No one else other than Jesus has ever risen from the dead, he added.

"You miss the purpose of Christianity if you focus too much on the cross," McEver said.

Hannah Grover can be reached at; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover.