This might not be a popular post.
I apologize in advance.
It’s the Friday before Easter and most families in your community have decided what this weekend will look like for them… and many of them made their decision without asking you what they should do. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the fliers you sent out and the facebook ads we all created have a ridiculously small amount of impact on the decisions families are making this weekend.
Easter is a season that I think the church-at-large works against itself more than it does during any other time of the year. Maybe it’s because we love the story of Easter so much. Maybe it’s because the story matters so much. Maybe it’s because we need something to do to compete with the community events going on at this time of the year. Whatever the reason is, I think we tend to program more than we need to and over promote ourselves during a time of the year that we might not have to.
Why do I think this? Let’s look at the two types of families in our communities for the answer.
The majority of our programs during the Easter season are aimed at churched families… or, at least, families that are familiar with church traditions surrounding Easter. Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and even amped-up Easter Services appeal to a very Christian crowd. We know the story – when we celebrate the moments along the way, it gives us a chance to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us. But, if you don’t know the story, you might not be compelled to take time out of your already busy schedule to attend any of these services.
(here’s a bold question: what percent of your visiting families this weekend already have a church home? and… how much does that percentage matter to you?)
Unchurched families have no reason to care about Easter. They should. They don’t. I know that statment is blunt and you might not like it – but, it doesn’t make it less true. And, here’s the even more offensive thing I want you to think about – you can’t trick an unchurched family into loving Easter. If they don’t know the story, they don’t know how much they should care about the story. They might like chocolate and easter eggs and bunny rabbits… but, your community’s rec center is more likely to draw an unchurched crowd to an Easter egg hunt than any Easter egg hunt your church might run.
A Story Worth Telling
The Easter story matters. Nearly 2000 years ago, the Son of God died on a cross for our sins. Then, in one of the most amazing true stories ever told, He came back to life. Jesus defeated death. When our heart stops and our lungs fail, our story isn’t over. Because of Easter, we know that the life we live now isn’t all there is – the hope in the resurrection is a powerful thing for lost and hurting people in our world. There is no better story.
I believe that our energy could be better spent if we taught churched families how to tell that story well. Unless your church is offering free 3D TVs this Easter (this church is… and people are freaking out because of it), unchurched families probably aren’t going to just “show up” this weekend because they got a postcard or saw an ad online. Statistics show that an unchurched family will come to church this weekend because someone invited them.
I’m not convinced that the shows that are about to be put on this weekend at churches across the country are worth their expense. So, I have a proposal – we should stop “just keep going and going and going” and reconsider our Easter strategy. What if, next year, we take the money we were going to spend on guest musicians, Easter flowers, advertisements, Easter egg hunts and other Easter expenses and invest it in teaching our churched families to tell the Easter story well. Easter is a story of hope. A story of bringing Heaven to Earth. We can be more creative than Easter egg hunts. Right?