At this time of the year, I’m sure you are super busy with Easter preparations and what may very well be your biggest church event. I truly hope that your services go well and that you bask in the hope this day represents.
However, I’ve noticed some tendencies that may not do the day, or Christ, justice and I wanted to express those to you in consideration of the day that celebrates the one signifying event of Christianity – the resurrection of Christ.
You know that this is the one time of the year where people buy new clothes and attend a church that goes neglected throughout the year (except for Christmas). You may be tempted to turn up the volume and make the church really attractive by putting on a good production. Bright lights and flashy shows may impress people and want them to come back. But it also conditions them to expect that Christianity must be cool because it has good entertainment. That is not the point – on Easter or any other Sunday. Actually, it can be kind of deceptive to do something different on Easter than you do the rest of the year…and a bit dishonest.
You may be tempted to look at the swelled crowd as an opportunity to grow your church and pull off those numbers that mean you hit it big. You may think that a large crowd gathered at the altar in response to say a prayer means that you are succeeding. But remember that church growth comes through discipleship, intentional involvement in people’s lives 365 days of the year. Don’t put all your eggs into the Easter basket. Success is in the faithfulness to Christ and his word not how many people suddenly surge on one day out of the year. Besides, the Lord adds to the church anyway.
Speaking of the gospel, it really should be articulated well in clear concise language. You may be concerned that unregenerate visitors may not be able to handle the whole truth or that you may bore them with specifics. But really, response to the gospel depends on presenting it wholly and accurately. Let it speak for itself. It is the power of God unto salvation after all. No actually, response to the gospel depends on the work of the Holy Spirit. No one comes to the Father except he draw them. Don’t forget that.
The gospel can stand on it’s own. Please don’t muddle the it with stories of ancillary characters because it will detract from the main character of God’s story, which is Jesus. It is his story. People should know that and that is what the bible says. So open it, read from it and explain it. People are not stupid and the Word can speak for itself too.
And please don’t bog down his story with opposition to the resurrection on Sunday or why Easter is a pagan holiday and shouldn’t be called that. The word Sunday itself has its roots in paganism. These are distracting details. There is a time and place to discuss that, but not on Sunday.
Finally, please remember that it is not your church. It belongs to Christ. You may be tempted to see the crowds and think it is because you are so special and your techniques are so great. But a church built on good marketing is not the right foundation and will only compel more techniques to keep it going. The church already has a foundation built on the prophets and apostles who testified to the risen Christ.
He is the one who offers hope and the forgiveness of sins. He is the one who left is throne of glory to take on sinful flesh though he himself knew no sin. He is the one who demonstrated the heart of God to the people he encountered – the poor, the weak, the outcasts and rejected (note that he rejected the proud and those who insisted on doing things their own way). He is the one who paid the penalty for a sin debt that we all owe and can never repay. He is the one who arose by God’s mighty power so that new life can be experienced in his name. He is the one who has gathered people in to be in communion with one another, a persistent model of his temple that grows together to represent him. Regardless of how many people show up on Easter, or don’t show up, Christ is to be proclaimed (Colossians 1:28). Though I’m sure you already know that.
So I pray for your strength and your services. I pray that distractions will be minimal and you can focus on the main thing. I pray that you will preach the gospel boldly and clearly and enjoy the fruits that only God can bring, repentant hearts accepting the good news of Jesus Christ. The ones who come back will be looking for more of him. I pray that is who you show them.