One of the questions people love to ask me is “what is your church doing special for Easter?” My response? Nothing. That’s right. Nothing. Ok, that’s not totally true. We do an egg hunt like everyone else and we have some special songs picked out just for Easter. But our service on Easter will be 90% like every other Sunday.
If you keep up with the other churches around your town, you know that is a rare strategy. Today it seems like everyone is going to have “the most amazing Easter ever!” Churches drop eggs from helicopters, have kids “eggstraviganzas,” Easter dramas, and offer the most outrageous prizes to give away. (One church is giving away a cruise this Easter!) As I see what lengths people go to outdo each other or draw the biggest crowd in history on Easter, it only reinforces why I do not necessarily want our service to be “special.”
Here is why:
1. The world sees that we are competing for guests. Churches go out of their way to invite people on Easter. People they never interact with otherwise. We do a big push because there is pressure for Easter to be our biggest crowd of the year. For the small church, this isn’t always true. (Read this great article about that here) This past week I went door to door to pass out our Easter flier on a street we have adopted as place where we focus our ministry. As I passed out fliers, I realized that more than one church had already been there. I am sure after the 3rd or 4th knock on the door, they got sick of it. One neighbor sent me a nasty email to say so. I am afraid our Easter push for guest turns people we should be blessing into customers were attracting. We’re all selling something. We are selling Easter. And were competing for the same people.
2. The other 51 weeks aren’t “special.” I have heard it said, that what you attract them with you must keep them with. There is wisdom there. What happens when all your guests come the week after Easter and the lights, eggs, dramas and choirs are gone? When our service is “special” it can create a false sense of who our church is. I want people to see us. Because who we really are is pretty amazing. I don’t want to cover that up with a bunch of false impressions of who our church is.
3. It reinforces our complaint about the Christmas & Easter Crowd. For years the church has complained about families who only come on big Sundays. Perhaps we are to blame. Perhaps the church encourages people to come on Easter and Christmas because we show them by our special services that they are the only ones that matter?
4. Every Sunday is Easter. I am not being glib. It is true. Every Sunday is a celebration of the death of Christ and power of resurrection. Every Sunday we sing about those same themes. Every Sunday, people are introduced to the God who saves and forgives. It sends a message that Easter is for getting people saved and the other 51 services are for the other stuff.
5. Easter should also be for the already saved. If we spend too much energy on Easter for the lost, we neglect the found who come on Easter to celebrate too. In my five years as a pastor, I have often wondered during my Easter sermon if I am leaving out the rest of the people. Especially when to my knowledge there aren’t any unbelievers actually there! We can send a message that Easter is not for them when Easter becomes solely on inviting and preaching to lost people. Easter should be a celebration for the saved and an invitation for the lost to join them.
I suppose I could be wrong about this. Attractional churches seem to be successful with this strategy. But for the small church, its hard to keep up with the church across the street who is dropping 40,000 eggs on Sunday. The average church like ours need only to be true to who we are. In the end, whoever comes will experience a real church and the real way we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus every week.
( This article discusses some of these reasons as well)