Easter Foolishness

Here are twelve things we church leaders do on Easter Sunday that undermine our own effectiveness in reaching people for the Lord Jesus….

1) We fuss at those who come.

“Well, good morning! We would like to welcome those of you we’ve not seen since Christmas!  Hope you had a good winter!”

I put this in the same category as those who begin a worship service by rebuking the congregation.  You’ve heard this, and possibly done it (I have): “Well, good morning, church!”  And then, “Oh, come on.  You can do better than that.  Good morning, church!”  Oh great.  We begin the greatest hour of the week by fussing at the people of God.

2) We put on a “dog and pony show” instead of preaching the gospel.

Whatever we do to attract people to our church will be required to keep them. So, if we put on a spectacular to get people in but follow it with our normal run-of-the-mill uninspired preaching/singing/etc., we are doing no one any good.

3) Cantatas.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, some churches will forego the usual service on Easter Sunday and give the choir the entire hour for their program.  While I love the choir and rejoice when worship music is done well, this of all days is the time to open God’s Word and read it (slowly, thoughtfully, reverently!) and preach its message.

4) Do nothing.

Business as usual (translation: boring) on this greatest of all days on the Christian calendar.

5) Make it about eggs and bunnies.

Enough said.  (If you’re going to have an egg hunt, do it on Saturday and somewhere other than the church yard.)

6) Preach an unclear sermon on the resurrection of Jesus.

If you have doubts about the physical resurrection of the Lord, you’d better deal with them fast, preacher. But the pulpit is no place for that foolishness.  (See Psalm 73 for a testimony of one who thought about spreading his doubts, then wised up and did something far better: He took his doubts to the Lord in worship and received the answer he needed.)

Scripture says, “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (I Corinthians 14:8)

Whatever you do, worship leader, do not come into the service planning to say such foolishness as “There is evidence that Jesus did not know He was going to be raised from the dead” (as I have heard it preached) or equally bad, “There is no evidence that Jesus’s physical body was raised from the dead, but He was raised only in a spiritual sense.”  In both cases, Scripture calls you a liar and you will do well to keep silent if you have nothing better to say about the resurrection of Jesus than this.

For any preacher/teacher doubting the resurrection of Jesus, I suggest you do two things:  read and re-read the gospels on the subject, followed by I Corinthians chapter 15, and then buy a book, almost any book, by Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell.

7) Fail to get a record of all who attended.

It’s not enough to get a head count. You want the names and addresses–all contact information–on every newcomer.

In welcoming guests, do not say “someone will be contacting you “as a result of filling out that card.  Some people are not ready to be contacted and you’ve just guaranteed they won’t be writing anything on your little card.

Furthermore, if you promise they will be contacted and your people don’t get around to everyone, in the minds of some you’ve made a promise you did not keep, and some will be disappointed.  Better not to say such a thing.  Just welcome them warmly, and tell them you’d love to know who they are, if they’d be so good as to fill out that card and drop into the offering plate.

8) Vary your preaching approach too much.

Repeating number 2 above, whatever you do to attract people, you will have to continue to keep them.  Just preach the word, pastor, and give it your best!

Remember the adage: “Never serve your company an untried recipe.”  (Ask any wife or chef!)

9) Going ga-ga over women’s hats and children’s Easter outfits.

A friend mentioned this as a favorite peeve.  Personally, I love women in hats and have made a point of calling attention to them on Easter Sunday.  The point is not to overdo it. A pastor should never forget those in the congregation who would love to buy new outfits for this wonderful day, but are unable.  (As a child, my family was among those.  Fortunately, in a mining camp or farming community, no one had money for new clothes, so this was never an issue.)  So, take care of business, pastor.

10) Welcoming your guests to a poorly kept building and a neglected campus.

Once in a while, pastors should walk the campus during Sunday School with another leader or two.  Tour the parking lot.  Is it clean? Is there litter? Have the leaves been cleared from sidewalks?  Is it obvious this area has not been cleaned in weeks?  Are the buildings attractive?  Is there a blight anywhere? Is the dumpster misplaced (or surrounded by overflowing boxes, etc.)?  Is there sufficient paper in the bathroom?  Do any rooms need painting?

The first impression guests have on arriving at your church could be the only one they will ever have.

11)  Fail to pray for yourself, your team, the congregation and those newcomers who will walk into the buildings next Sunday.

If indeed we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then we also believe He is among us in worship and cares a great deal how His word is preached and how His people are taught. So, seek His will, His guidance, His strength.

12) Fail to follow up in a creative, non-intrusive way with every newcomer.

Need ideas on this?  Call a friend who serves on staff in a growing church that does this right and pick his/her brain.

This is a great day, friend.  Enjoy it!!

5 thoughts on “Easter Foolishness

  1. I wish I’d read this twenty-something years ago. About 20 years ago I actually made the statement– “We’re glad to see you this Easter, but if you aren’t planning on coming back between now and next Easter, why bother?”

    Needless to say, that insensitive comment, made in jest, did not come across that way because there was a lot of feeling behind it.

    Thanks, Brother Joe, for some good tips.

  2. Yesterday, on Palm Sunday, our church Choir and orchestra at Oakhurst United Methodist Church presented a cantata entitled “There is a Redeemer.” It was as powerful and gospel-centered as any preacher could have presented. Music has the power to reach our minds and emotions that spoken words do not have.

    • While I agree that music is powerful, the church is called to PREACH THE WORD… it is the preaching of the Word by which men are saved.

      While, I am not against cantatas (we had a special music presentation at Christmastime, and indeed will have some special music moments on Easter) there still needs to be the opening of God’s Word– which some cantatas manage to do to some extent.

      God has chosen the “foolishness” of preaching to be the means to bring people to salvation. How they shall they believe unless they hear and how shall they hear without a preacher!

  3. I have tragically seen the “do nothing” Easter service. I regretted attending.

    May I add failing to read the text of the resurrection. The gospel is plain on it. Avoiding it is not how to deal with not liking Easter.

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