Easter is supposed to be a great time of joy and celebration of the risen Christ. But for some reason, on Easter pastors loose their minds and their focus. It used to be that Easter was a grand celebration of the risen Christ. I remember as a kid wearing our best clothes and showing up to sing “Up from the Grave He Arose!” Now it seems like churches love Easter because it is a chance to fill up the empty seats in our churches and have record crowds. I know. I have been there.
A couple years ago, we had a little growth spurt just before Easter. Easter was only a few weeks away and I could just feel momentum growing. I thought to myself, “Finally, we will break the 100 mark!” The reason I felt that way is because Easter is supposed to be our biggest Sunday of the year for churches. At least that is what all my pastor friends talk about. (Of course they also never tell you that the Sunday after Easter is usually one of the lowest of the year for larger churches!) When Easter Sunday arrived, we actually had a smaller crowd than usual and we were definitely down from what we had just weeks before. I set up all those extra chairs anticipating a record crowd only to have our sanctuary have more empty seats that usual. **sigh**
There I was on what was supposed to be the day I would celebrate our glorious salvation and our amazing Savior who died and rose again in victory. Instead, all I could see from the pulpit was empty seats. I didn’t feel victorious or joyful. I was disappointed, defeated, and depressed. On Easter.
You see, the church world had convinced me that the purpose of Easter was to have record crowds. How foolish! Easter is not supposed to be a means to an end. It is not a tool for church growth. It is not a time to bring out our slickest production and throw money at filling the seats. Easter is about Jesus and about people who want to celebrate his victory over sin and death.
This Easter, I hope you have the opportunity to have new people join in your celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. But please, don’t become overly concerned about your empty seats. Don’t miss the opportunity to truly celebrate Easter this year. Not for how many people showed up or for your lack of empty seats. Celebrate because the people who celebrate with you every Sunday are there once again and love their Savior, their church and their pastor. That is worth celebrating.