Easter (the historical event) is a big deal. As Paul forcefully notes, if there is no resurrection, this is all pointless. Easter (the pageant/celebration/event/experience/weekend/invitation that happened yesterday) was too. On Easter we want people to embrace Easter.
It seems though, that as church leaders, we put an awful lot of hope in the one day (out of 2-3) Americans generally flock to church buildings. We had it happen here too. People came out of the woodwork. I am grateful for that, for the opportunity to talk about the Gospel, for what God did in people’s hearts. In no way do I want to deride that. I want to celebrate it. I would dare say that thousands of people opened their hearts to the Gospel yesterday through the efforts of thousands of churches. Seriously, Hallelujah!
But if our calling is to make disciples, people who imitate Jesus by imitating us, why do we pour so much extra energy (and money) into a special day? Twitter was abuzz this past week with pastoral notations (approving, I might add) regarding the number of headless chickens getting ready for Easter. As a pastor who felt my own swell of something resembling pride at our headless chickens (myself included), I have a question out of that: Do we believe that the ‘Christmas and Easter Christians’ will finally “stick” this year? That this will be the year when people who’s entire frame for Christianity is 2 services where we pull out every creative stop will somehow “get it?” I’ll gladly go on record as saying that if someone genuinely began following Jesus, then all that effort is unquestionably worth it. We need to be as culturally adept as possible at putting the Gospel in terms that speak to people’s hearts and longings. Otherwise we fail at our missiological task.
But, and here’s the question I’m asking myself this year, what if we just asked them to join our church culture instead of following Jesus? And if we did, what do we need to do differently so we make the right invitation?
I’ll explore that next.