How I love the blessed reminder that Jesus Christ left Heaven for earth to make peace between God and man. He accomplished that by dying the cruelest of deaths in our place and rising again three days later, redeeming sin’s hostages, and breaking the power of the inner darkness it creates.
I read with interest an online blog article for pastors and church leaders titled, “Ways to attract people to church on Easter Sunday.”
Suggestions included hosting a family photo booth, using Justin Bieber songs during worship, providing tasty treats to the congregation, hiring an Easter bunny costume, bringing in a moon bouncer and announcing door prizes for attendees.
While I completely understand the motive behind the list, I question the premise that the Church must “lure people in” using secular marketing techniques.
Jesus Christ delivered the most attractive, desirable, joyful, freeing and life-giving message in the universe. Peace with God is possible. Sincerely confessing our sins to God means he fully forgives and forgets them. Death — formerly our worst enemy — no longer holds power over us. For those who embrace Jesus Christ, eternal life and youth are a certainty after death — in a place where sickness, dying and sorrow will be no more.
That news applies no matter who we are, what we’ve done or when we did it. How much sense does it make to downplay it and upstage it with... a moon bouncer?
But for the last several decades, in an effort to get non-believers to attend church, many Western congregations have re-fitted their churches and church programs into mini-versions of the rest of the First World — consumer friendly venues with glam and gliz galore and regular enticements to outsiders to join the “fun”.
And yet, according to recent surveys, it’s not working.
With humility, because the Bible says Christ’s church will triumph, I ask, if Christian churches in the West continue “marketing our product” in the same the way as society in general, will we not be forced to KEEP doing things like the rest of the world. It’s an unwinnable race — but to where?
I’m reminded of a sign I saw on another vehicle while driving one day. “Where are we going again, and what am I doing in this handbasket?”
Jesus’ gave a simple invitation “Come to me, all who are loaded with heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” At the same time, he warned that only a few will choose him — that the way of the cross is hard, and the road narrow and full of persecutors. Christians in the Third World face that reality daily.
When the twice-a-year church attendees show up for Easter Sunday, let’s not present infinitely lesser gifts. Let’s offer what they may not even realize they thirst for. Hope. Meaning. Fulfillment. Let’s show them lives who have been changed by a living Saviour. It’s the most we can offer — inside and outside our church doors.
Let’s give them Jesus — front and centre.