Easter Is the Second-Most Important Sunday of the Year
As a minister, you’re likely to take one of two views on Easter. View #1 is that Easter will produce big crowds of nominal Christians. Folks who’ll require much work to accommodate with extra chairs and more rolls of toilet paper in the bathrooms, but who will, by-and-large, give their annual nod to God and not darken your doors for another 51 weeks. Sure you’ll pull out all the stops for Easter, but you really don’t believe it’s going to yield much lasting fruit, because frankly it just never has at your church.
View #2 is that Easter is one of the key weeks of the year to reach the very fringe of the faith. Hundreds of guests will come for Easter and this is your opportunity to show not only everything that your church has to offer, but to clearly articulate the Gospel and join the work of the Holy Spirit as Christ draws people to Himself through your ministries, preaching and people. Easter is a day when everyone you’ve prayed would step into your church most likely will, and your heart is passionate about God opening His floodgates on that day.
Now I’m gonna be frank here. If you’re a View #1 kinda person, then you’re not firing on all cylinders. Sorry, no other way to say it. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. If your initial thought is to bristle at the prospect of giving Easter a big hug and digging in for all your worth, then perhaps you’re too much of a cynic or you need to pray for a renewal of passion for the lost–seriously. Easter is the very best evangelism opportunity for your church all year–though Christmas Eve is coming up fast and may eventually be just as powerful an outreach time. If you live to see the Gospel proclaimed to lost people, then you’ve just gotta embrace and make the very most of Easter.
You’ve got to be thoughtful about your message to this crowd—how are you going to present the Good News of salvation? You’ve got to think about how to be original and creative and at the same time not go way out there with your service content. You must transcend boredom and pique interest without offending. And you’ve got to do this with limited resources. It’s a tall order and it’s going to take blood, sweat, tears and prayer. Because Easter is the second most important Sunday of the year.
Why second-most? Because the most important Sunday is the very next one. The Sunday after Easter. That’s the day that the View #2 people like me—who worked their guts out on Easter—are most likely to back off. But that’s the day we need to be on our knees asking God let the words of the gospel we spoke last week marinate in the heads of all those guests. That’s the week we need to be just as excited and prepared to welcome all those preschoolers and students with vibrant programming for young people. And that’s the Sunday we need to hit the ground running with solid Bible teaching and worship that connects.
Easter isn’t the pinnacle. Easter is the baseline. Few churches need to work hard to get a crowd on Easter. Despite the religious decline of our nation, masses still see Easter as an attendance obligation. Most churches, though, put the effort and polish into Easter because of the crowds, when on reflection that same level of attention would not be too much more difficult to achieve each and every Sunday. I imagine most ministers will have a great Easter Sunday. Lots of people, smiles, worship that rocked, teaching that rocked even more. And they’ll get in their cars and head home for family lunch and at the red light stop to reflect on the morning. They’ll think something along the lines of “I sure wish every Sunday could by like today.”
Which begs a simple question. What are we doing to make that wish a reality? What are we going to do on Monday morning to retain and grow the Easter energy into the coming week? Yes, there’s going to be fewer people next week—probably—but does that mean we should be any less prepared personally, organizationally or spiritually? We’ve all read the articles about mega-churches that baptize hundreds on Easter or see thousands come to Christ as a result of Easter services and we must think at some level, “Why not at my church?” Let me submit to you that one reason Easter is so successful an outreach at some churches is that they are viewing each and every Sunday as Easter Sunday, and God is richly blessing the effort of committed, prayerful, humble and persistent people.
Think about answering three key questions within your Easter services. First, “What do I need to know and do to be free of my sin and have a relationship with God?” That’s the gospel and you’ve gotta share it. Second, “What is the next step in ministry and service for me as a member of this church?” That is living out your church’s mission and you’ve got to be ready for it. Finally, “What are we doing next Sunday to prepare to teach and reach our guests?” That’s the joy of ministry at Easter, and it’s an attitude in leadership that you can build around each and every Sunday of the year.
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.